KEY POINTS

  • Julie Wheeler was found hiding in her closet after she faked her death
  • Accomplices said Wheeler fell into the New River Gorge National River
  • She was attempting to escape her sentence after being convicted of stealing $300,000 from the VA

A woman in West Virginia who faked her demise to avoid a decade long prison sentence was found hiding in her closet, following a three-day search. 

Julie Wheeler was reported missing Sunday by her husband, Rodney, and 17-year-old son. They claimed she had gone over the main overlook at the New River Gorge National River. The incident led to a massive search and rescue mission coordinated by multiple agencies who brought helicopters, sniffer dogs and even a diving crew. 

During the search, investigators obtained a warrant which they used to confiscate her phones and computer. The evidence amassed showed she was alive and hiding at home in Beaver. 

Wheeler, along with her husband, was placed under arrest Tuesday and charged with conspiracy and false information to the West Virginia State Police. It remains unclear whether the son will also be placed in custody, considering he did assist in planting evidence to make law enforcement believe she fell into the river.

According to the New York Post, officials said, Wheeler pleaded guilty to a federal health care fraud in February after managing to con $300,000 from the Veterans Affairs Department.

She was convicted and could face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. There is a $250,000 fine as well, for her despicable crime. 

Her sentence for that charge is set to be carried out on June 17, though it is not clear whether the couple has legal representation considering their compounded issues. But one thing is clear — the law enforcement and the prosecution’s office will not be lenient on the case. 

Lead investigator, Trooper C.A Dunn told WVVA the whole thing was planned from the beginning. 

males-2512003_640 Police Photo: Pixabay