Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The John Wheeler matter

Philly television has been carrying various stories of the John Wheeler matter. Wheeler, a West Point graduate who held a law degree from Yale, ended up (dead) in the Cherry Island landfill near Wilmington, DE. This fact grouping could be a set up for an episode of NCIS, or of the (now gone) original Law & Order. The tv stories on January 4 included a witness who claimed that Wheeler entered a bank in Wilmington, in a disoriented state, claiming to have been robbed of a briefcase. Another witness claimed to have seen Wheeler, holding one shoe and wearing the other, and in a disoriented state. TV indicated a car of Wheeler's was parked in a parking garage.

If one believed in the omnipresence of outside tv monitors, one suspects that there would be a lot of footage of Wheeler, and a CSI-like analysis would readily track down Wheeler's path in Wilmington.

A post on suggests more sinister doings: Man found in landfill tied to arson attempt

Source: John P. Wheeler 3d planted incendiary devices at a neighbor's home in Del. days before his disappearance.

A different post notes Wheeler was a member of the West Point Class of 1966. IPBiz notes a book was written about that particular West Point class. [The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 By Rick Atkinson. The first chapter, titled "Beast", lets us know that Jack Wheeler was accepted at Yale in 1962, but went to West Point, following in the tradition of his father, Colonel "Big Jack" Wheeler. ] IPBiz readers may also recall: Tom Carhart, Ph.D (Princeton)., graduated from West Point in 1966.

FBI 'assists' Delaware police in John P. Wheeler III investigation

Of the landfill business, further noted:

Sanitation crews used an alternative site at Cherry Island on Tuesday, so that police could comb the area where the body was found without interruption, said F. Michael Parkowski, a spokesman for the Delaware Solid Waste Authority.

Parkowski said it was not surprising that workers had discovered Wheeler's body in time to retrieve it from the landfill. He said truck drivers as well as workers known as "spotters" are trained to watch garbage for suspicious items as it is dumped at the site. (...)

The biggest publicly known clue, Carbonell said, is that the killer or killers apparently tried to hide Wheeler's corpse by placing it in a trash bin.

"Guys who rob and shoot a guy do that and run," Carbonell said. "Somebody went to some extra effort to dispose of the body."

Of the "one shoe" business, note also coverage by the Daily Mail:

The top Pentagon aide found dead at a landfill site was seen in a confused state 48 hours before his death wandering around the wrong car park and wearing only one shoe.
John Wheeler was ‘disorientated’ and not wearing a coat despite the freezing temperature, according to the car park attendant in Wilmington, Delaware.
Asked if he felt OK, the 66-year-old simply responded: ‘No’.
The following day he was also seen wandering around the town in the last sighting before his body was discovered dumped at the tip.

**OF Atkinson's book, see A Moving New Book Helps West Point '66 Bind the Wounds of War and Changing Times which includes the text:

Frequently, their candor was startling. John P. "Jack" Wheeler III, for example, provided such intimate details of his affair, as a cadet, with a New York ballerina, his failed marriage to a fellow seminarian and a later liaison with a San Diego woman that he thought it advisable to brief his mother before she read the book. But he had no misgivings about being frank. "I felt a duty to be accountable," he says. "Anyone who reads the book paid money for us to go to West Point. This is what I did with what you gave me, including the stuff my mom wouldn't have put in."

Wheeler, now a planner at the Environmental Protection Agency, smiles fondly at parts of the book recounting his and his classmates' good times as cadets—"It's a Betty Crocker for raising hell," he says proudly.
[IPBiz notes that Wheeler's mother told him to go to Yale.]

Atkinson has a connection to the University of Chicago.

Video Released In Murder Mystery Of Delaware War Vet

Five More Of John Wheeler's Last Hours Filled In; Delaware Death Still A Mystery
NPR writes o 6 Jan:

"Newark [Del.] police reported Wednesday that John P. Wheeler III was spotted at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 30 as he wandered through a DuPont Co. building [Nemours Bldg., 10th and Orange ], apparently confused and disoriented — filling in five more hours leading up to the discovery of his body in a Wilmington landfill," The News Journal of Wilmington reports this morning.

The newspaper adds that "the former Pentagon official's body was found about 13 hours later, on New Year's Eve, lying in refuse at Wilmington's Cherry Island Landfill."

One commenter wrote: Downtown Wilmington, DE. is not Mayberry by any stretch.

from the Philly Inquirer Bizarre final days and hours of John P. Wheeler 3d

Read more:
Watch sports videos you won't find anywhere else

Goldsborough [parking lot attendant at Colonial Parking next to New Castle County Courthouse] said Wheeler told her he had been driven from the train station by his brother, had been robbed, and was recovering from the recent death of his mother. He declined Goldsborough's offer to contact police, she said.

Dill, Wheeler's neighbor, said that the limp was not new, but that Wheeler's brother and mother "both died some years ago."

While looking for his car, Wheeler encountered two departing courthouse employees who declined Wednesday to be quoted by name, saying they feared losing their jobs. They said that they encountered Wheeler about 7:30 p.m., that he was having trouble locating his vehicle, and that he wondered aloud whether he was in the right garage.

Wheeler said he didn't have his garage ticket because his wallet and briefcase had been stolen. When asked if he needed money, he told the workers that he had $120. He also declined their offer to call police, they said.

All three people who encountered Wheeler described him as clean and neat. His responses to their questions, they said, seemed labored but lucid.

HOWEVER, myfoxphilly attributes the brother/mother story, not to Goldsborough but to Boyer:

Goldsborough said she thought the man seemed like he was suffering from dementia.

Kathleen Boyer, a security guard at the New Castle County Courthouse, said a man she now believes was Wheeler told her he was dropped off by his brother two days prior so he could visit his mother, in Wilmington. The man did not have any apparent injuries but did mention he was robbed of his briefcase. He was looking for a hotel and wanted to know where Front Street was.

Boyer, and two other employees, offered to help him and even offered him some money, which he declined.

** See John Wheeler's death still a puzzle despite new pieces of information for a posting by Wheeler on a "class of 66" page:

Virginia attorney Art Schulcz, a West Point classmate of Wheeler's, said what struck him and others as odd was that Wheeler, 66, failed to respond to a follow-up e-mail on Dec. 29.


Schulcz said he and Wheeler are active on an e-mail forum for 1966 graduates of West Point, and once he heard about Wheeler's death, he went back to find Wheeler's last message.

Wheeler last posted to the forum around 5 p.m. Dec. 28, and while emotional and somewhat angry, his post was "classic Jack," according to Schulcz and other friends.

Wheeler was responding to a conversation thread about West Point and college football.

"And absolute football corrupts absolutely. NCAA is all about football money ... To Hell with the NCAA and its corrupting Money Game ... West Point should pull out of the fraud-ridden NCAA," he wrote.

Schulcz said it took focus and dexterity to compose and send the message, meaning Wheeler was coherent and in control at the time.
Schulcz said Wheeler was addicted to e-mail and "was the kind of guy with machine-gun fingers," who would respond in an instant to an electronic message. So when he failed to answer a message from another person on the forum Dec. 29, "that was unusual."

Private Eye Questions if death was murder

And that apparent disorientation, Fleisher speculated, could have caused Wheeler to voluntarily crawl into a trash Dumpster - either seeking shelter, as happens sometimes among the homeless, or perhaps looking for his reportedly lost papers.

"He may have crawled into the Dumpster looking for his briefcase, or simply to get warm," said Fleisher, who runs a Center City investigations firm, Keystone Intelligence Network.


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