Could he have been looking for a tracking device in his shoe? Could his briefcase have contained documents with which he wanted to expose something? Was he murdered because he was a whistleblower? Everything seems to point to this indeed.
From Delaware Online.
John P. Wheeler III walked into the Happy Harry's pharmacy on Del. 9 in New Castle at 6 p.m. last Wednesday with an unusual request.
"He said, 'Can you give me a ride to Wilmington?' and that was a flag," said pharmacist Murali Gouro, who had filled prescriptions for the former Pentagon official in the past. "He looked like he was a little upset."
Gouro said he offered to call a cab, but Wheeler declined and left the store. "He looked a little different," Gouro said.
The picture formed Tuesday of Wheeler's final days depicted a man disoriented and so disheveled that he was mistaken for a homeless person -- a stark contrast to the New Castle resident's reputation as an accomplished public servant in three presidential administrations.
About 40 minutes after leaving the pharmacy, Wheeler turned up at the New Castle County Courthouse parking garage on King Street in Wilmington, erratically searching for his car, according to employees and surveillance video made public Tuesday.
An employee at the garage said she tried to help Wheeler, who was carrying his right shoe in his left hand and said someone had stolen his briefcase. The 66-year-old Wheeler was blocks away from where his car was parked in a garage on MLK Boulevard near the train station. Wilmington Parking Authority officials said he was a monthly customer.
Two days later, on New Year's Eve, police impounded Wheeler's car, said Drew Horseman, finance director for the parking authority. Earlier that day, Wheeler's dead body fell out of a trash truck at Cherry Island Landfill.
People who encountered Wheeler on Wednesday night -- and recognized his face from news reports this week after his death -- say he was disoriented and rambling about his brother, mother and a Hertz rental car.
Cathleen Boyer, a security guard at the courthouse, said she was called down to the parking garage just before 7 p.m. after an attendant reported "a homeless man in the garage."
"He came out of the bottom level," Boyer said. "He had dirt on his right leg. His eyes were red, like he was crying or something and he said he was robbed."
Boyer said Wheeler did not smell of alcohol and that his speech wasn't slurred. He wore a black suit jacket, black pants and a white shirt, she said.
Boyer walked out of the building with two state employees when they encountered Wheeler. The two state workers offered him money.
"He told them he didn't want any money. He said 'I have plenty of money,' " Boyer said.
A graduate of West Point, Harvard and Yale, Wheeler led a prominent life in the federal government and nonprofits.
Boyer said the man then said he was staying at an old hotel nearby and that he had to get there. He then walked off.
An FBI spokesman downplayed the agency's involvement, which was triggered because of Wheeler's past position as special assistant to the secretary of the Air Force from 2007 to 2009.
"I don't want to get into details about what that assistance is right now, but it's pretty low key," said Rich Wolf, spokesman for the FBI field office in Baltimore.
Farrall said investigators have not determined where Wheeler was killed. On Monday, they ruled out his home at 108 W. Third St. in Old New Castle.
Over the past three days, no one has answered the door at the house, which sits on a slope overlooking Battery Park and the Delaware River. In the kitchen, several wooden floorboards are missing and the area is roped off by yellow evidence tape strung from the stove across two wooden chairs.
What was Mr. Wheeler Doing In Wilmington?
Time Line of John Wheeler's Final Days.