Video: Case of former Bush aide found dead in dump gets … weirder

posted at 10:55 am on January 6, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

John Wheeler’s body was found last week in a Delaware dump, and that may be among the lesser oddities in the case involving the former aide to three Republican presidents. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that police are investigating Wheeler’s possible role in arson involving a couple with whom he had been feuding in court. Meanwhile, Fox News shows surveillance video of Wheeler — the last sighting of him — wandering aimlessly through a Wilmington office building not far from where his body was found:


After working at Mitre on Dec. 28, Wheeler is believed to have taken a train from Washington to Wilmington. That night, police said, smoke-bomb devices were set off in an unfinished New Castle home across from Wheeler’s that belongs to a couple with whom he was long embroiled in a court battle over the dimensions of the house.

On Dec. 13, a Chancery Court judge denied Wheeler’s application for a temporary restraining order. Wheeler’s lawyer, Bayard Marin, has said he last spoke to Wheeler on Dec. 27 – the day before the arson attempt.

Marin doubted the dispute had anything to do with Wheeler’s death. He declined on Wednesday to comment further.

On Dec. 29, Wheeler turned up at a pharmacy in New Castle at 6 p.m. and asked the pharmacist for a ride to Wilmington, the Wilmington News Journal reported. The pharmacist, who declined comment Wednesday, told the newspaper that Wheeler looked “different” and “a little upset.” He said he offered to call a cab, but Wheeler refused and left.

About 30 minutes later, Wheeler entered the parking garage attached to the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, about seven miles from the pharmacy. How he got there has not been explained.

According to the Inquirer, witnesses say that Wheeler told them he had been robbed and spoke of the recent death of his mother. However, she died several years ago, according to the paper. His car had been towed, not stolen. The witnesses offered to call police and loan him some money, but Wheeler apparently refused both, saying he had $120 on him and didn’t need the police.

A coroner’s inquest will be presumably forthcoming, and very enlightening. Could it be that Wheeler just got into a dumpster on his own and died in it without anyone noticing? It would hardly be the oddest development in a case that looks stranger by the day.


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I wonder if he wasn’t having a stroke?

capejasmine on January 6, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Tom Clancy would know what happened.

singlemalt_18 on January 6, 2011 at 10:59 AM

I wonder if he wasn’t having a stroke?

capejasmine on January 6, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Thats what I was thinking. Sounds like somebody showing symptoms of a stroke. Especially if he sounded drunk (slurring speech).

Very sad.

portlandon on January 6, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Early-mid stages of dementia?

rbj on January 6, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Depressed, ill, older man checks out in a depressed, ill, older man kinda way……..sounds to me like is just had enough.

Limerick on January 6, 2011 at 11:03 AM

wow. sounds like something happened to this guy, or he was suicidal, or sick in some way. Sad story though.

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 11:03 AM

When did bug bombs become arson items?

upinak on January 6, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Bush’s fault.

Shy Guy on January 6, 2011 at 11:06 AM

So strange.

If he died I hope it was by “natural” (e.g. stroke or medication or ???) related causes and not violently.

BowHuntingTexas on January 6, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Tom Clancy would know what happened.

singlemalt_18 on January 6, 2011 at 10:59 AM

where’s John Clark?

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 11:09 AM

When did bug bombs become arson items?

upinak on January 6, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Those things cause fires all the time. People think that if the instructions say use one, then four will be better. But in high enough concentrations, that stuff is highly flammable and combustible.

RadClown on January 6, 2011 at 11:10 AM

I blame fireworks, a storm, and cold weather. Hey, if it can knock off 1000′s of blackbirds and fish, then why not just one dude?//

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Vince Foster. Keep digging. So to speak.

metalguy22 on January 6, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Thought I heard there was a murder investigation?

OmahaConservative on January 6, 2011 at 11:12 AM

I am with those saying he might have had a stroke.
L

letget on January 6, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Stinks to high heaven.

Inanemergencydial on January 6, 2011 at 11:14 AM

This is Jack Wheeler and is the same that has a newsletter/pay website ?? if so he was an early version of Glen Beck and Rush rolled into one .. Fishy …

wheels on January 6, 2011 at 11:16 AM

I wonder if he wasn’t having a stroke?

capejasmine on January 6, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Stroke, brain turmor, or Cheney needed him silenced and hired ShutThemUp.com, the same outfit Hillary used to deal with Vince Foster.

Rod on January 6, 2011 at 11:17 AM

But in high enough concentrations, that stuff is highly flammable and combustible.

RadClown on January 6, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Yeah, I see. Wouldn’t know, never used one… and I am not one to think “hmmm, how do I burn my next door neightbors house down?”

I have been following this story since the beginning. It isn’t just his behavior that bothers me, it is something a news article said and Drudge took it down. But it was something like he had passed away just a couple hours before the body was found? So he was squished in the Garbage Truck and lived for a while? And I know many garbage truck workers look in the bins as it goes into the air and dumped inside. Was Wheeler buried?

It justr doesn’t add up.

upinak on January 6, 2011 at 11:17 AM

My thought was that he was drugged. I am wondering, though, why AllahP is using the Philly Inquirer as his source material, when the Inqy article is based on Wilmington News Journal content — you know, the town where it happened.

DaydreamBeliever on January 6, 2011 at 11:18 AM

To construct the last 48 hours of this man’s life would be an interesting tale.

Condolences to his family…. they must be in all sorts of confusion.

itsspideyman on January 6, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Strange…What would make this case even more strange would be some sort of Christine O’Donnell connection…

JetBoy on January 6, 2011 at 11:21 AM

I’ll wait for the autopsy.

RadClown on January 6, 2011 at 11:22 AM

C’mon…he must’ve went to a fireworks display, got frightened and hopped up on adrenaline, then started running into things because he was scared. It happens to 1000s of people, sometimes all at once. I’m sure the coroner’s report will say “physical trauma” and show that he had internal bleeding and blood clots. Certainly he fell out of the sky into that dumpster. …./

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 11:22 AM

I’ll wait for the autopsy.

RadClown on January 6, 2011 at 11:22 AM

I doubt we will see that for a while.

upinak on January 6, 2011 at 11:28 AM

They need Abby from NCIS.
PErsonally, I will wait for more info. Who knows what happened. I don’teven know anything about the guy.

Vince Foster. Keep digging. So to speak.

metalguy22 on January 6, 2011 at 11:12 AM

This case, of which I have read up on some, is a disgusting travesty.
Someone is responsible for that man’s death.
And they got off scott free.

Badger40 on January 6, 2011 at 11:32 AM

I’m not sure that an impaired man telling people that he has $120 on his person isn’t an answer.

Cindy Munford on January 6, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Strange story. He either had some kind of stroke, maybe? Maybe worse?

Terribly sad so far. I can’t stand those stories where people bump around life totally out of it and there’s no real solution or help.

Something happened. The simplest answer is he had some type of stroke or other medical condition that made him incoherent, and he literally ran into some street people who viewed him as dangerous and killed him.

AnninCA on January 6, 2011 at 11:34 AM

I can see the stroke angle, but that doesn’t explain how his body wound up in a landfill.

mizflame98 on January 6, 2011 at 11:35 AM

The media has been having a fun time smearing this dead guy.

First it’s “incendiary devices”, now it’s “smoke bomb devices”. HotAir is happy to play along.

These are bug bombs you can buy at Home Depot and are used across the country by the tens of thousands.

faraway on January 6, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Death is a natural occurrence. It happens to everybody. Why all the conspiracy, tin foil hat, Alex jones pontificating. It was the guys time to check out, and he did. People will die today, they’ll die tomorrow, it happens every winter when it gets cold and there are fireworks./

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 11:37 AM

DaydreamBeliever on January 6, 2011 at 11:18 AM

It’s Mr. Morrissey’s post and (I’m going to be so sorry for saying this) anyone who had the pleasure of reading a thread about Christine O’Donnell knows that PA and Delaware are so joined at the hip that she almost managed to ruin the election for PA Republicans.

Cindy Munford on January 6, 2011 at 11:37 AM

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 11:37 AM

LOL! I think the body falling out of the dumpster is the sticking point. A 200 lbs impaired man falling out of a big dumpster is tricky.

Cindy Munford on January 6, 2011 at 11:39 AM

The Rooskies are saying it was the CIA because he was going to blow the whistle on the authorities testing Iraqi phosphene gas(WMDs that weren’t there) in the US.

Sounds good!

marinetbryant on January 6, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Redrum

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 11:40 AM

There is no big potboiler mystery here. Wheeler was clearly mentally ill, possibly suffering from the effects of a stroke or a series of small strokes: confused, disoriented, unable to differentiate fact from fantasy. My maternal grandfather had a succession of relatively small strokes before his death. Each time it happened, a piece of him would be gone afterwards: his memories, his ability to control his emotions, to recognize some people and not others, his sense of time. It was sad and terrible for those of us who loved him. That’s what I suspect was going on with Wheeler.

troyriser_gopftw on January 6, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Phosgene, not phosphene.

marinetbryant on January 6, 2011 at 11:41 AM

That’s what I suspect was going on with Wheeler.

troyriser_gopftw on January 6, 2011 at 11:40 AM

thanks, Rahm. We were waiting for you to weigh in.

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 11:42 AM

I just keep thinking that his position, clothing, manners actually worked against him. People kept respecting his message that he was “OK,” although he clearly wasn’t.

He ran into some kind of street problem as a result. The alternative is that he was drugged by somebody who is totally incompetent, and the guy wandered drugged for 3 days and left a trail that anyone could follow and, now, has created a public incident.

I can’t get into conspiracy theories over that.

I think the guy had some kind of medical trauma, but didn’t get help because he kept refusing it.

Totally, totally sad.

AnninCA on January 6, 2011 at 11:43 AM

He may have stayed in the house too long and the insecticides in the bug bomb caused him to experience weird side effects for a few days, leading to his ultimate death.

faraway on January 6, 2011 at 11:45 AM

I, too, would be unsurprised if this were related to a stroke. My father has had a couple larger and a number of smaller strokes. His reaction to them was different each time, but the last time (at least, we suspect it was a stroke–he was missing too long to learn if he’d had one) he drove into a snow bank, was pulled out, disappeared again, at some point got out of his car and fell, and eventually ended up at a hotel, very cold, confused (no idea how he got there), and generally traumatized. It is not difficult to imagine Mr. Wheeler hoisting himself into a dumpster when his brain wasn’t functioning correctly.

DrMagnolias on January 6, 2011 at 11:50 AM

possibility;

a clever suicide.

he knew he was gonna get indicted for arson and figured he could commit suicide in a way that would lead people to think it was either murder or a pathetic case of stroke induced dementia leading him to seek warmth in a dumpster?

they need to do a thorough toxicology screen on him.

something that would induce a coma – like insulin.

reliapundit on January 6, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Could it be that Wheeler just got into a dumpster on his own and died in it without anyone noticing?

It’s certainly a weird story, but it doesn’t sound like he died of natural causes. According to Fox news, police were saying Wheeler had been killed, which sounds like they saw something on his body to indicate a homicide. I guess we’ll have to wait for the autopsy and toxicology results before we get any better information about what happened to this poor guy.

AZCoyote on January 6, 2011 at 12:02 PM

It is not difficult to imagine Mr. Wheeler hoisting himself into a dumpster when his brain wasn’t functioning correctly.

DrMagnolias on January 6, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Heh. Redrum.

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 12:04 PM

The parking garage was one day, and the sitings near the Hotel DuPont were the next day. In between, he managed to change his clothes .. somewhere .. but where ?

J_Crater on January 6, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Did he eat? Where did he go to the bathroom? Sleep? Where is his phone, wallet, brief case? Car towed? Why? Did he have money? How did he get 7 miles in 30 minutes?

I don’t get it.

soozer47 on January 6, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Sounds like a clever murder to me. Maybe techniques have been updated since the Clinton years…………
I’m not 100% serious but it is a very strange story.

ORconservative on January 6, 2011 at 12:21 PM

C’mon…he must’ve went to a fireworks display, got frightened and hopped up on adrenaline, then started running into things because he was scared. It happens to 1000s of people, sometimes all at once. I’m sure the coroner’s report will say “physical trauma” and show that he had internal bleeding and blood clots. Certainly he fell out of the sky into that dumpster. …./
ted c on January 6, 2011 at 11:22 AM

I heard a rumor that he was wearing a pair of . . .

REDWING SHOES!

http://www.redwingshoes.com/

BigAlSouth on January 6, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Thought I heard there was a murder investigation?
OmahaConservative on January 6, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Yes. The police hopefully would not say that unless there was evidence for it. They have not announced the cause of death, but I’ll bet they already knew at the scene. Maybe a stroke/mugging could be the case, I’ve heard similar occurrences with drunk individuals that are randomly murdered on the street.
That said, in this video he is carrying his [reported as broken in other newscasts] shoe, (say what?) and keep in mind this gentleman was high in the ranks of cyber warfare and claimed to have been robbed of his briefcase earlier.

scotash on January 6, 2011 at 12:33 PM

I heard a rumor that he was wearing a pair of . . .

REDWING SHOES!

http://www.redwingshoes.com/

BigAlSouth on January 6, 2011 at 12:27 PM

but, did he have fish for dinner…?…

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 12:40 PM

car towed, talking about death of mother (that happened years ago): sounds like messed up meds, hit on the head, or stroke.

katablog.com on January 6, 2011 at 12:49 PM

I can see the stroke angle, but that doesn’t explain how his body wound up in a landfill.

mizflame98 on January 6, 2011 at 11:35 AM

His body ended up in the landfill on Cherry Island near the Delaware River because it was hauled there by a sanitation truck. His body was noticed as they were emptying the truck, and police were called.

Investigators were thereby able to determine exactly where the truck made the “pick-up” from the trash dumpster his body had been in. The pick-up location was in Newark, Delaware, a considerable distance (far further than he could have possibly walked) from the parking building next to the DuPont Hotel in downtown Wilmington where he was last seen by an attendant. He appeared somewhat disoriented to the parking attendant at the time of that sighting, and according to her, and the video, he was carrying one of his shoes at the time, which was described as “broken” in one of the stories.

So the statement in the post above regarding the proximity of the parking building to the landfill is essentially irrelevant. There was the known independent, intervening factor of his having (at some time during the interim) been in Newark, many miles in the opposite direction. He did not wander into the landfill, in other words.

The key questions now seem to be, how did he get to Newark and with whose assistance? He did not take his car. Did he take a bus? A cab? Or, was he even alive while being transported there? And, once in Newark, how did he get happen to get into the dumpster?

Trochilus on January 6, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Something happened. The simplest answer is he had some type of stroke or other medical condition that made him incoherent, and he literally ran into some street people who viewed him as dangerous and killed him.

AnninCA on January 6, 2011 at 11:34 AM

There area no “street people” in Newark, DE. It’s a pretty small town full of college age hippies.

loudmouth883 on January 6, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Trochilus on January 6, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Good summary. He ended up in a dumpster. How did he get there?

ORconservative on January 6, 2011 at 1:35 PM

The Rooskies are saying it was the CIA because he was going to blow the whistle on the authorities testing Iraqi phosphene gas(WMDs that weren’t there) in the US.

Sounds good!

marinetbryant on January 6, 2011 at 11:40 AM

The Huffers were passing around that article yesterday. They really go in for the black helicopter stuff over there.

juliesa on January 6, 2011 at 1:35 PM

If the truly weird behavior started after he reported (on the 29th) being mugged, it’s also possible he sustained a head injury at that time. A frontal lobe injury could explain the behavior but I suspect witnesses would have reported a head lac or bruising or something like that.

DrSteve on January 6, 2011 at 1:43 PM

I read The Nightingale’s Song a couple of years ago, and there’s a section in there that deals with Wheeler and the Vietnam Memorial.

The book portrays Wheeler as a temperamental self-promoter, REMF warrior-wannabe, subject to depression. One caveat, this was through Jim Webb’s eyes, and he’s pretty temperamental himself.

Not meaning to defame the deceased here, but there’s a chance his mercurial personality played into his mysterious death.

juliesa on January 6, 2011 at 1:51 PM

So, no one called police when he was clearly showing signs of disorientation. Nice…

CliffHanger on January 6, 2011 at 2:36 PM

The conspiracy bloggers and boards are peddling a connection between the deaths of Wheeler, birds, and fish — and that was before today’s explosive packages in Maryland.

Terrie on January 6, 2011 at 4:52 PM

I blame Clinton.

Jarhead68 on January 6, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Maybe he was just a fanboy of the end of Once Upon A Time In America.

Coronagold on January 6, 2011 at 11:59 PM

One witness said his eyes were bloodshot more than they’d ever seen before. He said he’d been robbed and his briefcase stolen.
My bet is blunt force trauma to the head with internal bleeding that probably killed him over time.
He may have been disorented, crawled into a dumpster and died or been found and tossed into one.

iceman1960 on January 7, 2011 at 1:56 AM