Video shows Wheeler in Del. parking garage

January 5, 2011 2:19:43 PM PST
Police are making progress piecing together the final days of murdered defense consultant and former presidential aide John Wheeler III.

Action News has obtained surveillance video of Wheeler inside a parking garage on the night of Wednesday, December 29th - two days before he was found dead in a landfill.

Watch the surveillance video of Wheeler in the garage

As of now, here is the sequence of events police investigation has determined thus far:

On December 13th, Wheeler parked his car in his customary spot at a garage across the street from the Wilmington train station.

Police believe he returned from Washington D.C. on Tuesday, December 28th and somehow made it to his hometown of New Castle without his car.

On the evening of Wednesday the 29th, he showed up at a Happy Harry's pharmacy in New Castle a half mile from his home.

He asked a pharmacist for a ride to Wilmington.

Wheeler left without the ride, but somehow ended up in Wilmington less than an hour later.

At 6:42 p.m., he stumbled into the Hypark parking garage next to the New Castle County Courthouse holding one shoe in his hand and looking for his car.

He told several people he had been robbed of his briefcase including parking attendant Iman Goldsborough.

Goldsborough told Action News that Wheeler seemed dazed and cold. He had no overcoat on and had one of his shoes in his hand and the other on his foot.

"He kind of looked disoriented," she said.

She said he told her he had just come off a train from Washington - the train station is four blocks from the garage.

A security guard at the New Castle County Courthouse, Kathleen Boyer, was on duty at the courthouse that night before 7:00 p.m. when she says John Wheeler stumbled in saying he was looking for a car he rented from Hertz and wanted to know how to get to Front Street. He told her and two of her colleagues that he had been robbed. She says he appeared drugged, dazed, and confused.

The next day, Thursday the 30th, Wheeler was spotted at the Namours Building at 10th and Orange streets in Wilmington where several people approached and asked if he needed help.

He had apparently gone somewhere overnight to change his clothes.

Wheeler was last seen on video surveillance in Wilmington at 8:30 Thursday night.

Eight hours later he was dead in a dumpster in Newark.

Wheeler's body was discovered as it tumbled from a trash truck at the Cherry Island landfill around 10:00 a.m. on Friday, December 31st.

Police believe Wheeler's body was dumped in one of ten garbage bins collected on New Year's Eve in Newark, Delaware. They do not know where Wheeler was murdered, and police are not releasing a cause of death.

Investigators are treating his death as a homicide.

The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that Wheeler was being investigated in connection with an arson attempt. Someone started fires in at least five separate locations in a new home under construction in New Castle.

That home, belonging to Frank and Regina Marini of Hockessin, is across the street from Wheeler's house. He had a lawsuit pending, challenging the zoning approval for the house because it partially blocked his view of Battery Park and the Delaware River.

A Delaware Chancery Court judge denied Wheeler's application for a temporary restraining order on December 13th.

Police are looking into that long-running feud as part of this investigation, saying they are not ruling anything out.

The Marinis said in a statement that they offered "heartfelt sympathies" to the families of Wheeler and his wife, Katherine Klyce.

Wheeler was a 1966 West Point graduate and Army officer at the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. He later serviced the administrations of the last three Republican presidents. Wheeler helped get the Vietnam War Memorial wall built in Washington. Under George W. Bush, he helped develop an Air Force program to combat cyber attacks on U.S. weapons systems.

More recently, he was a part-time consultant hired to help promote discussions on cyber defense for The Mitre Corp., a nonprofit based in Bedford, Mass., and McLean, Va., that operates federally funded research and development centers.

Police have one crucial time gap left to fill. They're hoping someone might have seen Wheeler after 8:30 p.m. Thursday night when Wheeler left this building.