Ex-Pentagon official died after a beating: Del. M.E.

Surveillance showed John P. Wheeler III inside a parking garage hours before his body was dumped at a landfill. (AP Photo / The Wilmington News-Journal)

A former Pentagon official whose body was found in a Wilmington landfill on New Years Eve, died of injuries he received in an assault, the Delaware state Medical Examiner said this afternoon.

John P. Wheeler 3d, 66, was discovered Dec. 31 at the Cherry Island Landfill. A spokesman for the medical examiner told DelawareOnline.com that the cause of death had been delayed while toxicology tests were conducted.

In a long, successful career, Wheeler fought for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, advised high-level Washington officials on defense issues, worked as secretary of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and served as first chief executive of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Wheeler's work ranged from cybersecurity to military tactics.

Police said Wheeler had been scheduled to take an Amtrak train on Dec. 28 from his consulting job at Mitre, outside Washington, to the Wilmington stop.

Wheeler had been embroiled in a four-year court battle with a neighbor over construction of a large house across from his own in a historic neighborhood. Police have said that smoke-bomb devices were set off in the unfinished house. They have not said officially that Wheeler was linked to the crime.

On Dec. 29, witnesses reported seeing Wheeler at a Wilmington parking garage, coatless and clutching one of his shoes. Video from the garage captured Wheeler wandering aimlessly, at times appearing agitated.

Wheeler told several people at the garage that he had been robbed but did not want them to call police. He said he was looking for his car. Police said it was parked a half-mile away in the garage across from the train station.

On Dec. 30, police said, surveillance video from the Nemours Building, about six blocks from the parking garage, showed Wheeler in different clothes but still looking "confused."


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