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March 1, 2021

Body of US presidential adviser John Wheeler found at Delaware dump

Newark – Police in Delaware are trying to piece together the mystery of how a decorated soldier and former adviser to three US presidents was murdered, stuffed in to a dustbin lorry and dumped in a landfill.

Detectives say they are mystified by the killing of John Wheeler, a 66-year-old decorated Vietnam war veteran who worked for President Ronald Reagan and both of the Bush administrations. Wheeler had played a leading role in the construction of the Vietnam war memorial in Washington which he advocated as a step toward reconciling the country after the divisive war.

His body was found as it spilled from a dustbin lorry that had made 10 stops around Newark, Delaware. He had lived in nearby New Castle.

The police say Wheeler, a graduate of West Point military academy, Yale and Harvard, was murdered but are not revealing how. The authorities say that they are awaiting the results of toxicology and other forensics tests.

The police said that Wheeler was last known to have been alive in Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday. His body was discovered the next day about 12 miles away.

Newark police spokesman, Lieutenant Mark Farrall, said investigators searched Wheeler’s house, which was roped off with police tape after his death, but it was not considered a crime scene.

“We don’t have a crime scene at this point in time,” he said. Farrall added that investigators did not yet have any leads in the case.

Neighbours and friends were shocked by his death. “This is just not the kind of guy who gets murdered … This is not the kind of guy you find in a landfill,” said Bayard Marin, a Wilmington lawyer who represented Wheeler told the News Journal. “He was a very aggressive kind of guy, but nevertheless kind of ingratiating, and he had a good sense of humour.”

Wheeler helped to create the Vietnam veterans leadership programme in the Reagan administration. Later he was instrumental in setting up the Earth Conservation Corps under President George HW Bush and also led Mothers Against Drunk Driving in the mid-80s. He was a special assistant to the secretary for the air force in the administration of George W Bush.

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