Former Reagan and Bush aide found murdered in rubbish dump
A veteran of Republican presidential administrations, including those of Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, has been found dead in a dump in Delaware.
The body of John Wheeler III, who also helped lead efforts to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, was discovered on New Year’s Eve as a rubbish truck emptied its contents at a landfill. His death has been ruled a homicide.
Wheeler, 66, retired from the military in 1971 and lived in Delaware state. He had worked in the Reagan Defence Department and also served as a special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force in the George W Bush administration.
The former Army officer reportedly was last seen Dec. 28, on the train from Washington to the Delaware capital, Wilmington.
Police have determined that all the stops made Friday by the garbage truck before it arrived at the landfill involved large commercial disposal bins, several miles from Wheeler’s home.
“He was just not the sort of person who would wind up in a landfill,” said Bayard Marin, a lawyer representing Wheeler in a property dispute, said.
Wheeler, the son of a decorated Army officer, was a graduate of the US Military Academy and a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was the first chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and led the multimillion-dollar fund-raising effort to create the memorial on the National Mall.
Fund founder and President Jan Scruggs said Wheeler dedicated himself to ensuring that service members are given the respect they deserve.
“I know how passionate he was about honouring all who serve their nation, and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Mr Scruggs said.
In addition to chairing the memorial fund, Wheeler served as a special assistant to the secretary of the Air Force. He also was the first chief executive of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Wheeler’s military career included serving in the office of the secretary of defence and writing a manual on the effectiveness of biological and chemical weapons, which recommended that the United States not use biological weapons.