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Posted at 1:07 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Ex-Army officer disoriented before death

By Paul Duggan
Washington Post editors

John P. Wheeler III, a former Army officer who helped lead efforts to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was seen wandering in apparent confusion in Wilmington's central business district in the days before he was found slain in a landfill there last week, according to police and a news report in Delaware.

Wheeler, 66, a lawyer and longtime business and government consultant who lived 10 miles south of Wilmington, was found Friday morning by a landfill worker who saw Wheeler's body in a load of trash being dumped by a rubbish truck. Investigators have not disclosed the cause of his death, but they said he was a homicide victim and that the mound of trash in the truck had been picked up hours earlier from receptacles in Newark, Del., west of the city.

Newark police said Wednesday that Wheeler was seen in a downtown Wilmington office building "as late as 8:30 p.m." on Thursday, about 13 hours before his remains turned up at the Cherry Island Landfill in Wilmington. He "was seen on video" in the building and "appears confused," Lt. Mark A. Farrall, a police spokesman, said in a statement.

The place where he was seen, the 14-story Nemours Building at 10th and Orange streets, is part of the headquarters complex of chemical giant DuPont.

"Police also have learned that earlier in the day ... Mr. Wheeler was approached inside this building by several individuals who offered assistance to him, which Mr. Wheeler declined," Farrall said. That encounter occurred about 3:30 Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the News Journal of Wilmington quoted two people who said they encountered Wheeler in the parking garage of a Wilmington courthouse shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday, the day before he showed up in Nemours Building. One of the witnesses, security guard Cathleen Boyer, said Wheeler appeared disoriented. She said he was clad in a black suit coat, dirty black pants and a white shirt, and that he said he had been robbed of his briefcase.

The other witness, a garage attendant, said Wheeler was carrying his right shoe in his left hand.

"He came out of the bottom level," the newspaper quoted Boyer as saying. "He had dirt on his right leg. His eyes were red, like he was crying or something, and he said he was robbed." Boyer said Wheeler's speech was not slurred and she did not notice any odor of alcohol.

Footage from surveillance cameras at the courthouse garage, made public by police, shows Wheeler in the minutes before his encounter with the guard and the attendant.

After entering the garage, he staggered along a narrow corridor, holding the shoe in his left hand and appearing lost. He hobbled past an attendant's window, then returned and spoke briefly with the person behind the glass, ending the conversation by jabbing a finger.

Then, still wearing just one shoe, he walked unsteadily along another hallway toward an exit door that was open. He pulled the door closed, then turned and flailed his arms in the air before walking back along the corridor and getting on an elevator.

Boyer and the attendant said that after Wheeler's photo appeared in the news media this week, they realized that he was the man they had encountered in the garage of the New Castle County Courthouse at 500 North King St., a half-mile from the Nemours Building. The two said they offered him money, but he declined.

Wheeler's lawyer, Bayard Marin, said in an interview that he was surprised by accounts of his client wandering downtown, apparently disoriented.

Marin, whose office is in Wilmington's central business district, said Wheeler sounded "fine, excellent" when they last spoke by phone, two days before Wheeler showed up in the courthouse garage. Asked if Wheeler was prone to episodes of mental confusion, Marin said, "Oh, God, not at all."

"He had his various moods, but he was always very bright, always sharp," said Marin, who has been representing Wheeler and his wife, Katherine Klyce, in a protracted land-use dispute in the neighborhood where the couple lived, in New Castle, Del., south of Wilmington. Wheeler, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Harvard Business School and Yale Law School, "was really very intelligent, the kind of guy you had to work hard to stay ahead of," Marin said.

Marin said Wheeler's wife did not want to be interviewed about his death. "The police have not revealed much information to us," he said. "I suppose anything is in the range of possibility, but it could have been something very ordinary. If you have a person who is somehow disoriented or having a problem of some kind, there are certainly sadistic people out there on the street who would take advantage of a person like that."

Wheeler graduated from West Point in 1966 and served at the Pentagon and as a rear-echelon staff officer in Vietnam before leaving the Army as a captain in the early 1970s. As the first chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, he was instrumental in raising money to build the memorial on the Mall amid fierce controversy in the early 1980s over its stark design. In time, the divisiveness gave way to acceptance of "the Wall" as an iconic national symbol of sacrifice and service.

In the decades after the memorial was dedicated in 1982, Wheeler worked mainly as lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission and as a self-employed business consultant. He also served as chief executive of several nonprofit organizations, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and held a few mid-level advisory posts in the federal government for relatively brief periods, including a stint in the mid-2000s as a special assistant to the Air Force secretary.

Most recently, Wheeler had been working under contract for the Mitre Corp., based in McLean and New Bedford, Mass. The company does computer-related research and development for several government agencies, including the Defense and Homeland Security departments.

Wheeler "was hired as a part-time consultant for the Mitre Corporation in March 2009," the company said in a statement. "He was providing part-time support to outreach activities aimed at promoting discussions among government, industry and academia on cyber defense topics."

Mitre spokeswoman Jennifer Shearman declined to say whether Wheeler was working at the company's McLean headquarters last week. But police said he was scheduled to take an Amtrak train from Washington to Wilmington on Tuesday, Dec. 28. Investigators initially were unsure whether Wheeler was on the train, apparently because Amtrak has a cumbersome, time-consuming process of sorting used tickets by hand before matching them to computerized records of ticket purchases.

Authorites said that after Wheeler's body turned up, they found his car in a parking garage near Wilmington's Amtrak station.

It appears now that Wheeler did take the train back to Delaware that Tuesday. A day later, he was seen in a drug store in New Castle, about a mile from his home, according to a pharmacist there. The druggist, Murali Gouro, said in an interview that Wheeler, an occasional customer, walked into Happy Harry's Pharmacy about 6 p.m. on Wednesday and asked Gouro to give him a ride to Wilmington. Gouro said he declined and offered to call a cab for Wheeler, but Wheeler said no thanks and left.

Less than an hour later, Wheeler was in Wilmington, disheveled and disoriented at the courthouse garage.

By Paul Duggan  | January 5, 2011; 1:07 PM ET
Categories:  Homicide, Paul Duggan  
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Diabetic maybe? Or he was drugged and then someone on the street took advantage of him in his disoriented state, robbed and killed him?

Posted by: B-rod | January 5, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that The Post **continues** to ignore the local angle: the attempted fire- or smoke-bombing of the neighbors' house under construction, which incident the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local Delaware media now report has been linked to Wheeler. The attempted smoke or fire bombing may -- or may not -- be directly connected to the alleged homicide, but it certainly opens a valid line of inquiry. It's much more likely that he was murdered as a result of something local -- including an opportunistic street crime -- than all this folderol about his illustrious career inside the beltway.

Posted by: tdiaz | January 5, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Cause of death?

There are many, many more people who will help a disoriented person than would kill for no reason.

And you know plenty of cops saw him. A man wandering about like that is most certainly behaving like a terrorist casing a potential target.

Posted by: blasmaic | January 5, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

So instead of offering him money, why didn't the security guard and parking attendant call authorities? I would talk to these two individuals a little more. Something does not sound right.

Posted by: OHREALLYNOW | January 5, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

So instead of offering him money, why didn't the security guard and parking attendant call authorities? I would talk to these two individuals a little more. Something does not sound right.

Posted by: OHREALLYNOW | January 5, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I just glad that the security officers knew how to handle an injured robbery victim: Don't call the police or EMS, offer him a few bucks, and send him on his way carrying a shoe.

Posted by: eGREGie | January 5, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

the police hsould have been called and wheeler involuntarily committed for 72 hour observation at a hospital. He may have been hit in the head and had a hematoma that affected his thinking, or had a stroke or ingested something that interfered with his ability to reason. from the surveillance video, wheeler obviously was gravely disabled and should have been hospitalized

Posted by: Helen1005 | January 5, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I do not why he was disoriented, only god and maybe his wife and/or doctor know. He probaly could not find his way to his car and crawled into a dumpster and died. Its that simple.

As for the outrage about security, the pharmcist and sundry others offering tepid support, get real this is america.

I especially find rich how the good people of this blog want to say a predator stalked, attacked, and finished him off, thus letting of the communtity as a whole.

A man stumbling ,mumbling, and looking like a bum gets no pity here in the usa. the good citizens of wilmington treated him just like they treat everyone else in a like situation, no better, no worse.

His resume,education, employment past, and connections made no difference once he was unable to navigate an indifferent society.

Posted by: eperry4750 | January 5, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I would guess he had a stroke. Its amazing that SOMEONE didn't recognize that this guy needed help - especially the pharmacist who was asked to drive this guy somewhere. That is a ridiculous request from someone who seems normal. Throw in his wearing dirty/disheveled but quality clothing. This all should all cause alarms to go off for anyone involved in a health profession.

Posted by: overdrive_68 | January 5, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Truth serum. Get the info you want, then send in the clean up crew to do the dirty work and hastily dispose of the body.

The fire bomb at his neighbors place could very well have been a frame up, to buy valuable cover up time after the hit.

Somehow Wheeler was left roaming the streets for who knows? Some unexpected circumstance.

MITRE Group are suspected by 9-11 conspiracy folks for hijacking NORAD that day, plus they were one of the first "contractors" "cleaning up" ground zero.

Posted by: pantherburn | January 5, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

why wasn't the "POLICE" informed of the robbery, when he indicated too them that he was insulted????

Posted by: bigboy445 | January 5, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

why wasn't the "POLICE" informed when he indicated too them that he had been assulted????

Posted by: bigboy445 | January 5, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

It's become "normal" in America to ignore the dishevelled mentally ill guy wandering around.

We euphemistically call them "homeless", give 'em a buck, and figure we've done our bit.

A civilized country would have a reasonable system of mental health care. And we'd no more ignore a person in apparent psychiatric distress than we'd ignore an apparently physically injured person. But a civilized country we're not.

Posted by: vfr2dca | January 5, 2011 7:22 PM | Report abuse

pantherburn: you have no idea what your are talking about in regards to MITRE. Why would a bunch of scientists, geeks, and engineers be cleaning up ground zero? Never mind that the NORAD thing is stupid.

How about this one: "according to 9/11 experts, pantherburn secretly trained the pilots that flew into the Pentagon and the towers." See how easy it is to anonymously slander someone on the internet?

Posted by: steve1231 | January 5, 2011 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Let us wait for the coroner's autopsy report and especially focus on the liver as it could match the trauma observed in the liver of all these dead birds.
Where are Mr. Wheeler's co-workers to forward information to WikiLeaks?

Posted by: ldjuby | January 5, 2011 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Let us wait for the Coroner's autopsy report with special attention given to the victim's liver and heart, as it could reveal the same trauma to these organs as what caused the death of all the birds.
Mr Wheeler's co-workers might forward some insight into this mystery to the WikiLeaks organization.
Also how come Paul Duggan titles this article with the definite knowledge of John Wheeler's being disoriented. We only know him as having appeared such.

Posted by: ldjuby | January 5, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

The MITRE group talks about being one of the first groups at ground zero (on their own extensive website) to "utilize radio equipment never tested in those conditions" on Sept. 13.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to smell a media cover up. Not to mention calling Wheeler an "aide" or "consultant" might just be the understatements of the year.

Posted by: pantherburn | January 6, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Do a little digging. Read some 10 year old 9-11 conspiracy theory. The Mitre/Ptech/NORAD connection is very old news discussed in the early days following 9-11.

I'm not trying to sway you, I'm just an amateur investigative journalist, you can be one too, instead of another complacent ostrich with your head in the sand. I'm a polite guy aint I?

Posted by: pantherburn | January 6, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Upon Wheeler discovering what was happening with Iraq's Phosgene poisonous gas stockpiles, this report continues, he traveled from his home in Delaware to Washington D.C. where he openly confronted and threatened to expose the Pentagon and White House Officials responsible. Being a Vietnam Veteran who was responsible for having the famous memorial to that war erected, Wheeler was more than knowledgeable about the United States massive chemical and biological attacks in that conflict and had vowed to not let happen again.

Posted by: paco514 | January 6, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Its obvious that he was being followed for a while, this is a typical straight out of the movie type deal. I'm sure some Hollywood producer will be profiting from this story before you know it. For someone to ask a random person in a drug store for a ride to Wilmington, had to of been pretty desperate and scared for his life. I'm sure he had some top secret info contained in his briefcase. After all he was an Ex-Pentagon official and a presidential aide of the Bush regime. Need I say more....

Posted by: mikepapay007 | January 6, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

What a MORON Steve 1231 turns out 2B...!!!!

Every1 who has spent 3 minutes on 911 knows it was Wally Hillard that trained Mohamed Atta & his friends... Actually they attended several flight schools in FLORIDA......

Try this:

The guy behind this site has devoted the last TEN YEARS to investigating EVERYTHING about ATTA if Florida... His girlfriend Amanda Keller.. taxi drivers who drove him around..neighbors....flight instructors, favorite bars, restaurants...his friends...enemies...acquaintances... ALL!!

Try this:

Posted by: tgwlll | January 6, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

eperry4750 and eperry4750 made the most intelligent posts in my humble opinion...

"A civilized country would have a reasonable system of mental health care. And we'd no more ignore a person in apparent psychiatric distress than we'd ignore an apparently physically injured person. But a civilized country we're not."

P.S. This dude was a frontline 911 observer.... Needs to be considered....
How did Adolph Eichman's doctor feel about HIS patients role in the genocide of the Jews...??? Lots of angles to look into...

Posted by: tgwlll | January 6, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm kinda confused that someone would be investigating on a person who was alive and never even flew a plane in to the Towers. Are we talking about the same Atta whose passport was found perfectly intact at ground zero. The same Atta that stood up and said I'm alive, after the attacks took place? C'mon, everything including the black boxes couldn't be found, but they found, in perfect condition a passport that belonged to one of the terrorists that was still alive!! That's a big NA SON! Just do a little more digging, you'll find the answers and truth if you really want to. Too many people are still in denial over what really took place. It has all ready been investigated and there is substantial amounts of evidence supporting that this was a false flag operation. Trust me! believe me, I was like you guys too! I didn't want to believe it either, but being a New Yorker and having it affect me personally, and having a father who was NYPD detective as well as losing friends to the disaster. It hit home a little harder for some of us. BTW, it already was determined that there was never a plane that hit the pentagon. You can actually watch the surveillance videos on youtube. There is no site of a plane hitting the building, or any remains of a plane laying in the ruble. If it is true than this is one of the only plane crashes were everything got disintegrated, right? lol! Please...

Posted by: mikepapay007 | January 6, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Here is just a little piece of the puzzle if anyone wants to be enlightened.

Posted by: mikepapay007 | January 6, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Bunch of conspiracy nuts. Seriously folks, stop living in your fantasy world of black helicopters.

And, no I'm not a complacent ostrich. I have looked into it, probably more deeply and personally than you have, and what I've come up with is mundane and boring.

The allegations that I have read remind me of various statements I've heard in the past about the Egyptian pyramids. Since pi can be found in their dimensions, they can't possibly be made, or at least designed by humans. Ancient man did not have the technology or know-how, as the story goes. But, if you use a wheel that is 1 cubit (or meter or foot or whatever) in diameter, and roll it along X rotations to measure out the base of the pyramid, and make sure the pyramid is X units tall, then you have a pyramid whose base is a 1:3.1415927 ratio (actually it might have been the perimeter of the base was 2pi). Either way, the ancient Egytians did not need to know pi to produce this ratio. Completely mundane and with a much simpler explanation than UFOs or scopalamine.

Next thing you know you'll be telling me that the English crop circles were not made by geriatric pranksters.

P.S. I feel stupider for having watched that Youtube video. It's the same type of feedback-loop mass delusion that causes religions to be born.

Posted by: steve1231 | January 6, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

i just wanted to share an article someone sent me today on facebook:

we live in florida, and if there are major toxins being released in the sky, air currents usually flow east and then south. if this article is true, there are lots of things to worry about .... and what europe has discovered we are being kept in the dark about. russia is also involved.

the saddest part is that Mr. Wheeler's death was for nothing, since it is all getting revealed.

Posted by: mintrose | January 6, 2011 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Thank you paco514 and mintrose. I believe John Wheeler's death was a cover-up for the test or accidental release of phosphene gas that is causing massive bird deaths.

What bothers me are three things:

Who was behind Wheeler's death exactly? Not what the news/police are telling us, but who really would have done this, government agency, MITRE? They need to be exposed.

Also, if this gas is present, how much exposure does it take before ppl begin dying?

Lastly, (if the gas is present) would whomever's responsible for the gas exposure choose to make more cover-ups rather than attempt to neutralize the gas or vacate people from affected areas before its too late?

Posted by: ladapop6 | January 7, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

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