Federal authorities are clueless about the mysterious circumstances in which the dead body of a former Pentagon political appointee in President George W. Bush's administration had landed up in a dumpster.
The body of John P. Wheeler III, 66, was spotted falling out of a Waste Management trash truck by an employee at Cherry Island Landfill in Wilmington, Delaware, on New Year's Eve and his death has been ruled a homicide by Newark, Del., police. They are asking the public's assistance in the case.
The Delaware medical examiner's office has also ruled the death a homicide. The cause of death is still being investigated. The police did not say what injuries Wheeler died of.
Wheeler, a resident of New Castle, had a prominent role in getting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial built in the 1980s and also he worked under the Republican presidential administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
He also served as a special assistant to the Air Force secretary. Wheeler was a staff officer in Vietnam and he was a graduate of West Point, as well as Harvard Business School and Yale Law School.
Most recently, he was a consultant to a defense department contractor.
A spotter observed a body coming out of a truck, said Lt. Mark Farrall of the Newark, Del. police.
The truck had collected trash from specially designated dumpsters in 10 pick-up spots in Newark, Farrall said.
About 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Wheeler was seen in Wilmington in the area of 10th and Orange streets by a member of the public, Farrall said.
Videos shot inside the parking garage of a downtown Wilmington office building showed Wheeler confused and disoriented. The videos showed him in a black suit with no tie, wearing only one shoe even though there was snow outside. He was carrying his other ripped, tasseled burgundy loafer.
According to parking garage attendant Kathleen Boyer, Wheeler looked tired and disheveled and had told her he had been robbed. However, he had refused help from several people who approached him as he wandered around the historic Nemours Building as late as 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
We are asking for the public's assistance in the case, CNN Justice said quoting Farrall. We don't know where the crime scene occurred. The body was dumped within our jurisdiction.
Investigators are now seeking information from anyone who might have seen Wheeler after that time. Tips can been given to Detective Nicholas Sansone at 302-366-7110, ext. 135, or Nick.Sansone@cj.state.de.us, or Crime Stoppers at 800-TIP-3333. Anonymous tips can also be texted to TIP411. Enter 302NPD and the message.
Wheeler's family said in a statement through the Newark Police Department As you must appreciate, this is a tragic time for the family. We are grieving our loss. Please understand that the family has no further comment at this time. We trust that everyone will respect the family's privacy.