Cabbie drove Wheeler to Hotel du Pont

Defense consultant and former presidential aide John Wheeler III, who served presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, was found dead in a Wilmington landfill December 31, 2010.

January 25, 2011 3:47:18 PM PST
Action News spoke with a cabbie who says he left John Wheeler off on a corner in downtown Wilmington two days before he turned up dead in a landfill.

It fills another gap in the mystery surrounding Wheeler's bizarre behavior in the days before he died.

Cabbie Roland Spence of Seacoast Cabs didn't want his face shown on television, but wanted to tell his story.

"When I saw his picture in the paper, I said that guy was in my cab," Spence said.

He says John Wheeler got into his cab at the Amtrak station around 9:00 the morning of December 29th.

It was a cold day and Wheeler was wearing just a sportcoat and an open collared white shirt. He wanted to go the Hotel du Pont.

"'You can take me to the Hotel du Pont, but I'm not staying there because it's not worth the money' and he had me drop him off at 11th and Orange," Spence said.

And that's where Spence last saw him, looking lost, just standing on the corner.

"He was just a lonely sort of guy. He just started walking," Spence said.

Spence says Wheeler was holding a small briefcase at the time.

Wheeler would show up later that day at a parking garage claiming he had been mugged and his briefcase was stolen.

But before Wheeler showed up in the parking garage, he apparently went back to his home in New Castle.

Around 6:00 p.m., he went into Happy Harry's drug store and asked for a ride back to Wilmington.

He didn't get the ride, but showed up in the parking garage in Wilmington 40 minutes later.

He was dressed the same as he was when he rode in Spence's cab that morning, but was disheveled and carried a shoe in his hand.

He seemed confused and told an attendant he was looking for his car and that he had been robbed of his briefcase.

He also said he was staying at an old hotel, but couldn't remember the name.

The next day, Thursday, December 30th, Wheeler showed up again near the Hotel du Pont Hotel, this time at 10th and Orange streets.

He was later seen on surveillance video inside the Nemours building across the street, and then again, later that night, walking toward Rodney Square on 11th Street.

The next morning his body was found in the Cherry Island landfill.

During this entire odyssey, Wheeler's car remained parked in a garage across from the train station where he left it two weeks earlier.

The police are still reviewing surveillance video from Wilmington and Newark, but so far, they don't know who killed Wheeler or why.