WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) — Authorities in Delaware have identified the body found in a landfill in Wilmington on New Year’s Eve as a New Castle man who served three presidents — and they’re calling his death a homicide.
John Wheeler III was a US Army captain in the Vietnam War, and led the committee that built the memorial to veterans of that conflict on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
Police say they were called after Wheeler’s body was dumped out of a garbage truck into the Cherry Island landfill in Wilmington on Friday.
“We do know that he was scheduled to take a train from Washington, DC to the Wilmington train station on December 28th. We’re not certain whether or not he was on that train,” Lt. Mark Farrall of the Newark Police Department explained.
Farrall says they tracked the trash to locations along College Square and East Main Street. “We are checking surveillance for anybody who may have been in the area around the dumpsters at the time he would have been dumped.”
Investigators are re-tracing the garbage truck’s trips to 10 different dumpsters on Friday morning. Police have also searched Wheeler’s New Castle home where he lived with his wife.
Investigators have not revealed a cause of death.
Wheeler, 66, had served under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush, and was a special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force during President George W. Bush’s second term.
Newark, Del. police are taking anonymous tips through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333, and say a reward may be available for information that leads them to a suspect.
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Reported by Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio 1060; Robin Rieger, CBS 3