John Wheeler Seen Alive Less Than 24 Hours Before Body Found in Landfill
DOVER, Del. (CBS/AP) Newark police have confirmed a report that prominent national defense consultant, John P. Wheeler III, was seen alive in downtown Wilmington, Del. as few at 24 hours before his body was found in a Wilmington-area landfill, Dec. 31, but they still aren't sure how he got to Wilmington or how his body ended up in the landfill.
Newark Police Lt. Mark Farrall said the information about Wheeler's whereabouts before he died came from a caller's tip that police have since confirmed.
The tipster said they saw Wheeler around 3:30 p.m. Thursday near the Hotel du Pont, about two blocks from the office of an attorney who was representing him and his wife in a property dispute.
Farrall said police also were reviewing video surveillance tapes from downtown Newark, Del. Wheeler's body was discovered in a truck that had collected all its trash from about 10 commercial disposal bins in Newark, several miles from Wheeler's home in the historic district of New Castle, Del.
Farrall said Newark police have consulted with the FBI about the case but wouldn't say what assistance, if any, federal investigators are providing.
Wheeler, 66, who served three Republican presidents and helped to get the Vietnam Veterans Memorial built, was never reported missing by family or friends prior to the discovery of his body and many friends have come forward to say they even traded emails back and forth with Wheeler in the days leading up to his death.
Ron Roark, who has lived next door to Wheeler in New Castle for seven months, said Monday he had met Wheeler only once and rarely saw him. But for four days around Christmas, he said he and his family heard a loud television in Wheeler's home that was constantly on, but no one appeared to be home, The News Journal of Wilmington reported.
"It was so loud, we could hear it through the walls, and we found that strange," Roark told the paper.
The house in New Castle was dark Monday night and no one answered the door. Yellow police evidence tape was stretched across two wooden chairs in the kitchen, where several wooden floorboards were missing. Though the police have searched the home, it is not considered a crime scene, Farrall said.
Although Wheeler's death has been ruled a homicide, cause of death has not yet been determined as officials are awaiting toxicology results, the News Journal reported.
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