Medical examiner: Homicide victim John Wheeler died of ‘blunt force trauma’

Former presidential adviser John P. Wheeler III, whose body was discovered in at a Wilmington landfill on Dec. 31, died as a result of blunt force trauma after being assaulted, the state Medical Examiner’s Office said today.

Carl Kanefsky, spokesman for the state Medical Examiner’s Office, said the cause of death was released because the toxicology tests were completed — 28 days after the 66-year-old’s body was found at Wilmington’s Cherry Island Landfill. Police said his body was dumped there after it was picked up from a garbage bin in Newark.

 

“They completed all the tests they needed to do and came up with blunt force trauma,” Kanefsky said. “Any further inquiries regarding the case should be directed to the Newark Police Department and the Delaware Department of Justice.”

 

“We don’t have any further information,” Newark police Lt. Mark Farrall said. “I can’t comment on his injuries.”

 

Farrall said detectives still do not know how Wheeler got to Newark or how he got into the dumpster.

 

The investigation is still on-going.

 

“We’re still attempting to determine how he made his way to Newark and who’s is responsible for his murder.” Farrall said. “How he got the injuries, I just don’t know.”

 

Wheeler was an adviser to several U.S. presidents, led fundraising efforts in the 1980s to construct the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington and most recently worked part time for The MITRE Corp., which provides systems engineering and information technology services to the government.

 

Wheeler is believed to have been on a train from Washington D.C. to Wilmington on Dec. 28, Newark police said.

 

A cabbie interviewed by The News Journal, however, said he picked Wheeler up at the train station on Dec. 29.

 

Surveillance video picked him in different parts of the city leading up to his final day, including the Nemours building on Dec. 30 where he asked for train fare at the Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz law firm. Several people who talked to him said he seemed disoriented.

 

The last image of him was on Dec. 30 when he was spotted leaving the Nemours building and walking southeast on 11th Street, past and through the Hotel du Pont valet parking area. He continues southeast and crosses Market Street and is last seen in camera view at 8:42 p.m. walking on the west sidewalk of 11th Street, toward the East Side.

 

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