“It is impossible to imagine that John Wheeler could have wandered the streets of Wilmington over the next day without being captured by countless video cameras…Where is the footage?”
The murder of Westpoint Grad, DoD Consultant, US CYBERCOM Official and Presidential Aide John P. Wheeler III on December 30, 2010 remains unsolved. In fact, there has been little to no progress in the investigation since early 2011- that’s if the investigation is still active. Even in the weeks and months following Wheeler’s body being seen falling from a trash truck at the Cherry Island Landfill near Wilmington, Delaware, Newark Police Detectives (the lead agency on the case due to where to body was “collected”) progressed slowly on mostly false leads and theories. Only days after Wheeler’s death was confirmed as a homicide various Law Enforcement and City Council figures made statements that would lead one to think – was this case ever meant to be solved?
On January 8th, 2011, Wilmington City Councilman Kevin Kelley cautioned Wilmington police not to go “overboard” in investigating Wheeler’s death. Kelley said he wants police to find the person responsible for Wheeler’s death, but not at the expense of other investigations. Councilwoman Loretta Walsh, who heads the city’s Public Safety Committee, agreed, saying Kelley’s comments were “absolutely appropriate.” These same officials point out that only half of the cities 27 homicides in 2010 were solved. Perhaps it’s time to start “going overboard”? It is apparent that their nonchalant approach to crime solving is ineffective. The FBI, the US’s “elite” Federal police force, was also tasked with investigating the murder due to Wheeler’s high profile, but apparently had little to add.
Originally posted in full within the article “The Mysterious Murder of John P Wheeler III (Part One)“, the timeline of Jack’s final hours is worth rehashing in part to illuminate the window of time from his last appearance on video to the discovery of his body. For the full timeline, see the previous posting (above link).
2010/12/29 – [9AM] (JW) picked up by taxi cab driver Roland Spence at Wilmington Amtrak Station and asks to be taken to Hotel DuPont. 2010/12/29 – [6PM] Seen by his usual Pharmacist in drugstore (Happy Harry’s) near his home in New Castle asking for ride to Wilmington. 2010/12/29 – [640PM] Seen in Newcastle County Courthouse parking garage, missing shoe, “confused”, claims to have been robbed of briefcase. Pants dirty, eyes red like he was crying. Refused help. (7 miles away from drugstore) 2010/12/29 – [730PM] (JW) is seen by two courthouse employees in parking garage “unable to find his car”. 2010/12/30 – Neighbor R. Dill spots open upstairs window in home of (JW). Going to check things out, Dill finds door ajar and house ransacked: chairs; plants overturned, broken dishes in sink, (JW)s West Point Cadet sword on floor, unsheathed. Nothing was taken and it was unlike (JW) to leave house in that state. 2010/12/30 – [8AM] Wheeler seen in sandwich shop. Employee claimed he was dirty and his eyes were extremely bloodshot, but he acted fairly normal. 2010/12/30 – [Afternoon] – (JW) enters law firm of Connolly, Bove, Lodge & Hutch, 10th floor Nemours, asking for train fare to go ‘North’. One person says he asked for a ride to Philadelphia. 2010/12/30 – [330PM] – Spotted @ 10th & Orange St. Location of DOJ/US Attorney/HQ of Dupont Corp/Hotel DuPont. 2010/12/30 – [845pm] – (JW) shows up on video camera in DuPont/Nemours downtown office building appearing confused; Swapped dirty jacket for blue hooded sweatshirt. Leaves Dupont building heading East on 11th Ave. 2010/12/31 - [4:20AM] - Waste Management Truck starts Newark pickup route. 2010/12/31 – [9:56AM] – Body of John Wheeler spotted by inspector as it is dumped from trash truck at Cherry Island land fill.
MURDER AND DISPOSAL
Sometime after 8:45PM on December 30th, John P Wheeler III was murdered. It has been confirmed that he died of blunt force trauma to the head. Toxicology reports remain sealed (verify?), but it has been indicated by the medical examiner that no abnormal chemicals were found in Wheeler’s body OR did not play a part in his death. This, of course, does not rule out any agents that metabolize quickly or that are immediately invisible after introduction into the body. The body was seen being dumped from a Waste Management Co. trash truck at approximately 9:56AM on December 31st at the Cherry Island Landfill just across from Wilmington, Delaware – the same location Wheeler was last seen. But Wilmington may not be the scene of the crime. This truck’s route was in Newark, Delaware – about 15 miles East Southeast of Wilmington.
To make a dump at around 9:56AM, it’s been estimated that this Waste Management truck starts it’s route at about 4:20-4:30AM. Working backwards from the dump time, it would take around 10-20 minutes to get into the Cherry Island Landfill and 25-35 Minutes of commute time between the Landfill and Newark. The route is around 4.5 miles and will take about 20 – 40 minutes (with lights) just to drive with no stops. Add in the time it takes for the driver to:
- pull up and align with the dumpster,
- open any enclosure surrounding the dumpster (if applicable),
- lift and dump times,
- re-placing the dumpster into original location,
- closure of structure surrounding dumpster (if applicable),
- compaction of trash every few stops
- and navigating away from pick up location
115 College Square
Newark, DE 19711
2. Newark Library (New Castle County Library), Library Avenue
750 Library Avenue,
Newark, DE 19711-7146
3. Gardens of White Chapel (Apartments)
200 East Village Road
Newark, DE 19713
4. Floyd Hudson State Service Center, Ogletown Road
501 Ogletown Road
Newark, DE 19711-5403
5. Newark Toyota, Marrows Road
1344 Marrows Road
Newark, DE 19711-5445
6. McDonald’s, E Main Street
374 East Main Street,
Newark, DE 19711
7. Attila Wings, E Main Street
337 East Main Street
Newark, DE 19711-7152
8. Newark Emergency Center, E Main Street
324 E. Main Street
Newark, DE 19711
9. Bing’s Bakery, E Main Street
253 East Main Street
Newark, DE 19711-7314
10. Goodwill, Newark Shopping Center
230 E Main St
Newark, DE 19711
When the body was seen while being dumped, the spotter indicated that it was towards the ‘back’ of the load, meaning it was loaded either early in the route – OR, it was loaded into the truck by unknown persons before the truck began it’s route. If the latter were the case, the body was either loaded into the truck while it was still in the yard or while the driver was inside. If it was loaded in while the truck was in the yard, there would have to be someone working inside the Waste Management ‘garage’ who had knowledge of how and why the crime occured…or owed someone a favor/got paid off. The other option is that the driver was in on it. The latter is less likely due to the fact that the driver would be at the scene when the body was being dumped and would be questioned by police. This sounds risky. The more likely overall scenario, however, is that the body was dumped in one of the dumpsters on the route between Wheeler’s 8:45PM appearance in Wilmington and the 4:20AM start of the route. This would give the perpetrators around 8 hours to kill, transport and dump Wheeler.
Several of the later stops can be eliminated (in theory) because of the location of the body when it was being dumped from the truck. The first three stops include a bank (typically heavily surveilled by cameras), a Library (technically a government building – could also be under surveillance by cameras) and a State “Service Center”/Welfare Assistance Office (also a Government building). Surveillance on these locations has not been confirmed, but all three are located in the vicinity of shopping centers and restaurants in what is described [here] as a “bustling college town” in a neighborhood frequented by many people and covered by many (unconfirmed) cameras. The same can be said for the final 6 stops on the route. The only significant evidence noted from any of the aforementioned dumpster locations was a pair of latex gloves found in the dumpster located by the WSFS Bank (1st stop).
Finally, the last of the first four stops, an apartment complex set up as a senior assisted living center – only partially constructed at the time and no surveillance to be noted. Below are images of some of the dumpsters at the residential locations, which are the most likely dump sites due to their seclusion and partial constructed state. At the time of the murder, the units were only 50% filled.
Other unconfirmed evidence noted was a large amount of ‘medical waste’ around the body of John Wheeler. This could point to the dumpster(s) at the assisted living facility, as they sometimes do generate this kind of trash. This could also point to later locations on the route.
Investigators are fairly certain that Wheeler came from the Newark area in the back of a Waste Management truck. One of the major questions that still remains unanswered is – How did John Wheeler get from his last sighting in downtown Wilmington to Newark?
It is unknown whether the last several hours of John Wheeler’s life were spent in Wilmington or Newark. No conclusive murder scene has been found or discussed with the public, and if an exact time of death is known, it has not been released. The last reported sighting of Wheeler in Wilmington was at 8:45PM inside and around the Dupont building. Reportedly, there is video of him leaving the building and heading east on 11th Avenue (which borders the North side of the Dupont Building) across Rodney Square (which borders the east side of the Dupont Building). The only video released to the public from ANY video camera ANYWHERE was recorded almost 24 hours before the last sighting of Wheeler at the Newcastle County Courthouse
Much like Newark, downtown Wilmington is full of cameras. Police investigators and press made little mention of this fact, which is surprising. Investigators are having a difficult time filling in the blanks between the times John Wheeler was seen on the released video footage and witness reports. This is also surprising because with a vast and high tech network of surveillance cameras (see article) blanketing downtown Wilmington, every second of Wheeler’s movements should be easily discernible.
Note: The Downtown Visions article linked in the previous paragraph has been taken down as of March 2015. It was referenced in a Lancaster, Pa article of their own surveillance grid and had the following to say about Wilmington’s surveillance: (see the original article archived here)
These kinds of cameras are in use throughout the world. Wilmington, Del., is held up as a sort of model, and members of the coalition recently visited the Wilmington operation run by a group called “Downtown Visions,” which can view 65 of the 69 blocks in the downtown area via 25 cameras.
“We patrol the street with joysticks,” Martin P. Hageman, Downtown Vision’s executive director, told the Wilmington News-Journal last year. “The criminals cannot outrun the cameras.”
The addition of more than 25 cameras to downtown Wilmington’s streets and sidewalks between 2001 and 2002 has helped make the city’s camera surveillance among the most intensive network of cameras on the East Coast, experts say. A private, nonprofit group called Downtown Visions, which works with area businesses to prevent crime there assisted in the project to install these cameras and now “gives the group the ability to view 65 of the 69 blocks“, said Dean Vietri, the group’s safety director. In addition to the high tech cameras installed by the city, more than 100 cameras installed by downtown businesses cover nearly every square foot of the area, giving Downtown Visions and Law Enforcement nearly 100% coverage.
Even though the cameras cover the “core” area of Wilmington, the technology is advanced enough to cover the streets outside of the 69 block radius. “We patrol the streets with joysticks.The ‘pan, tilt and zoom’ cameras can view people up to 12 blocks away”, Vietri said. A TV monitor in the Wilmington Police Department’s dispatch room can receive images from any of the Downtown Visions cameras when workers spot a crime in progress. A 1999 survey of more than 100 cities with camera programs by the Security Industry Association in Alexandria, Va., showed that most of them are not as advanced as Wilmington’s.
With the passing of 8 years since the Wilmington surveillance program began, one can only assume that it’s network has evolved into a more complex system. Technology has advanced and the strategic importance of the Government Offices, high-tech businesses and Agencies like the Secret Service (Rodney Square) have become no less critical. A quick cruise through the area will reveal a camera on almost every block.
It is impossible that more of Wheeler’s movements were not caught on camera. It is impossible that the FBI and local Law Enforcement do not have a clearer picture of how John Wheeler finally disappeared for good on the night of December 30th, 2010. The last location he was seen, both by witnesses and A camera should have only told the beginning of the story. Where is the rest of the footage? Is it part of the evidence that was sealed by Delaware Attorney General (and SON of Vice President of the United States) Beau Biden? Is this evidence still sealed because it STILL threatens the “ongoing” investigation? Or was this footage ‘disappeared’? What really happened that night on East 11th Avenue?
Below is a Google-based map with notations of where cameras are installed in Downtown Wilmington. As the legend to the right shows, the red dots show the “pan-tilt-zoom” cameras mentioned above – the same cameras that can “view people up to 12 blocks away”. Darker red dots are unconfirmed, but possible cameras. Orange dots denote a “fixed” or directional camera. Also note the two large red circles. These show the last two locations Investigators claim to have footage of Wheeler.
John Wheeler arrived in Wilmington from Washington on Amtrak (just off the map to the south) on December 29th. He then asked taxi driver Roland Spence to take him from the station to the DuPont Building for unknown reasons – perhaps to meet someone, according to cabbie Spence. Spence did not describe his behavior as abnormal. All four sides of the Dupont Building are and were covered by surveillance cameras. During the construction that took place sometime in the last year (confirmation of dates needed), the Northeast corner of the building lacked a camera, but it was sufficiently covered by the other cameras throughout Rodney Square. His arrival to (approx 9:15) and departure from (time unknown) this building – as well as his condition – should have been captured.
This could elucidate the currently unclear events that transpired between his arrival in Wilmington and his appearance at a drug store he frequented near his house in New Castle, Delaware. It is clear that his car was just up the street at a parking garage near the Amtrak Station. It did not move from the time he left it there on December 13th. Did he take another cab back to his New Castle home looking for his car? If this was the case, how and why did he end up at a drug store 10 minutes from his home? A taxi company says they got a call from Wheeler between 4 and 5 PM requesting a ride to Philadelphia – the phone call was made from a payphone outside of the drugstore. Witnesses inside the drug store then say he asked for a ride back to Wilmington at approximately 6PM. 40 minutes later, he was captured on camera at the Newcastle County Courthouse in Wilmington ‘looking disheveled’, missing his briefcase.
Numerous questions arise: How did Wheeler go from normal behavior to erratic behavior between 9AM and 4-6PM? Was he drugged? What was in Philadelphia? Why did he return to New Castle? Was he already ‘missing his briefcase’ at Happy Harry’s? What happened to him between the time he arrived in Wilmington and the time he was captured on video? Who was he meeting with at the DuPont Building that morning? Why has that person not come forward? Whatever set the events of the next 24 hours in motion began on this day.
It is impossible to imagine that John Wheeler could have wandered the streets of Wilmington over the next day without being captured by countless video cameras. And one must deduce that he did wander the streets throughout the night. He loitered at the courthouse from 6:40PM until at least 7:30PM, then ‘disappeared’. The next morning, he was seen at a sandwich shop, eyes bloodshot, clothes dirty – but acting normal (drugs wore off?). He would not be in this condition if he had gone home again. Sometime after noon, Wheeler appears again at the DuPont/Nemours building again and is seen several times there between this time, 3PM and 8:30-8:45PM when he is seen for the last time – this time, wearing different clothing. Wheeler is said to have gone to the 10th Floor to the law offices of Connolly, Bove, Lodge and Hutz asking to speak with a partner, but then disappeared. Was he attempting to visit his lawyer (who works in the same building)? For whatever reason he was there, he stayed at this location between 5 and 8 hours. Reportedly, only in the final half-hour of his presence at this building was any video footage captured. Again, none of this matches up with the amount of surveillance equipment in this area (and probably within the building).
Since all evidence is sealed, there is no way of knowing what is known and what is not known by law enforcement. But one thing is for sure: there should be a clearer picture of what happened that night After 8:42PM. If videos from earlier were released, why not the rest? Do they show something that no one is supposed to see? Investigators have claimed that Wheeler is last seen walking East on 11th crossing market. This CANNOT have been the last sighting. If Wheeler continued down 11th Avenue, there are cameras on N King St., N French St., N. Walnut Street and another block down on N Lombard St. If he headed North on or after N Market Street, he would have been caught by the cameras on 12th Avenue – again on N Market, N King and N French. South? N Market and N King are well-covered with sufficient coverage on N Walnut. Remember – these are mostly “pan-tilt-zoom” cameras that can “see a person 12 blocks away”. Even being able to only see 2-3 blocks would place coverage limitations on 11th Avenue at about North Pine Street or North Kirkwood (off of the above map). At North Kirkwood, there is an Elementary School with a directional camera facing up the street towards Wheeler’s point of origin. This camera would have seen him too. Given that Wheeler’s body and last locations were known within a day or so of his death, all video footage should have been intact for investigators to view. Where is this footage?
Not to make light of the death of an honorable man but …John Wheeler was not a stealth fighter or a magician – he could not have disappeared without a trace from the Wilmington area. He did not teleport to Newark. Either investigators know what happened and aren’t telling, the evidence has been ‘disappeared’ or a perfect set of circumstances came together for Wheeler to stay out of view of Wilmington’s extremely advanced surveillance. John Wheeler’s wife Katherine Klyce does not seem to have much faith in those who are assigned to the case. She offered a $25,000 reward hoping it would bring information to the surface but fears that those who are in the know have already been paid. After investigators treated her like a criminal, they confiscated computers, financial records and a credit card belonging to Wheeler – a card that would later have $3000 worth of airfare from New York to Madrid charged to it. Klyce seems to think the investigators “wish it would all just go away.” To most, this would seem like an investigation that has been stonewalled or influenced at higher levels. Those who take on the job of solving murders and bringing criminals to justice typically take their duty seriously – unless they have a good reason to look the other way – self preservation.
If Wheeler had just turned up dead, it would still be a tragedy. But the strange circumstances leading up to his death bring to bare many questions that would not have to be asked if this were a routine homicide. To some, these circumstances seem to fit perfectly into the mold of a killing executed by a clandestine Government Agency attempting to keep secrets obscured from public view. To others, the events would make it seem like the killer(s) had another motive – perhaps some degree of revenge. Either way, it is clear that this was no random killing. The killer(s) knew exactly who they were “terminating with extreme prejudice”. Wheeler was, after all, still a very important player at very high levels of Government. Which brings us to the most important question of all – Why did they want him dead? A solid motive would bring this case closer to being solved… Something, it seems, the investigators have given up on.