WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Authorities have no suspects in the slaying of a former Pentagon official six days after his body was found at a landfill near Wilmington, a police spokesman said Thursday.
Newark Police investigators, assisted by the FBI and multiple Delaware law enforcement agencies, are pursuing various leads but haven’t developed a suspect list in the death of John P. Wheeler III, 66, of nearby New Castle, police Lt. Mark Farrall said.
The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled Wheeler’s death a homicide but says the cause of death is pending toxicology tests. Police haven’t even determined where he died.
“We have investigated his vehicle and investigated his home and we have not pinpointed or identified a crime scene,” Farrall said.
Newark police are leading the investigation because Wheeler’s body was in a load of trash collected from there.
Farrall said he doesn’t know of any physical or psychological condition Wheeler had that would explain his disoriented state in video surveillance recordings from downtown Wilmington on Dec. 29 and 30.
Attorney Bayard Marin, who was representing Wheeler and his wife, Katherine Klyce, in a property dispute, said Tuesday that his conversation with Wheeler was “extremely lucid” when they last spoke by telephone on Dec. 27.
The FBI said it is providing minimal help but it could increase its involvement if local police request it.
“If they reach a point where they need additional assistance, to where we’re assigning numerous agents down there and working more as a partnership, that’ll be their call,” said Special Agent Richard J. Wolf of the Baltimore field office.
Marin was representing Wheeler in a lawsuit seeking to block Frank and Regina Marini of Hockessin from continuing to build a house across the street from his duplex. The complaint alleged the project didn’t meet historic district construction standards.
Late on Dec. 28, several smoke bombs of the type used for rodent control were tossed into the Marini house, scorching the floors, Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Alan Brown said.
Farrall said the incident is one facet of the investigation into Wheeler’s death.
Wheeler was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Harvard Business School and Yale law. His 45 years in and out of government service included a key role in establishing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; work on cyber, biological and chemical warfare issues; insider trading investigations for the Securities and Exchange Commission; and serving as the first chairman of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
He most recently worked part time as a consultant for the Mitre Corp., a government contractor, on cyber defense issues.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)