Update at bottom – Cause of death: Blunt Force Trauma from Attack
On December 28th, 2010, John Wheeler III boarded a train in Washington and eventually ended up in a landfill. Newark Police are investigating the death of John Wheeler III, but because of his work at the Pentagon, there has been some communication with the FBI, according to Newark police spokesman Lt. Mark Farrall.
Wheeler was a Pentagon official in three Presidential administrations, working for Presidents Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, and was instrumental in helping build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. According to a USA Today article, Wheeler also worked as a lawyer on the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), helped found the Earth Conservation Corps under President George Bush I and was later CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers during Bush I′s presidency.
He was no mere lawyer for the SEC – He was the Assistant General Counsel, Special Counsel to Chairman, and Secretary, for the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1978-1986. His work included major insider trading investigations. Hmmmm.
When Wheeler was murdered, he was working as a consultant for a defense contractor named Mitre, which–according to the company website–deals in “aviation system development, defense & intelligence, federal sector modernization and homeland security.” Mitre is now working the field of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), one of the fastest growing sectors of defense contracting, where a virtual treasure trove of taxpayer dollars are being paid to private and public corporations.
Was Wheeler’s murder a random crime or was there a political or financial motivation behind the act?
Shortly before joining on as a consultant for Mitre, Wheeler served as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. from 2005-2008, when he became the Special Assistant to the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Logistics and Environment. His mission was to carry out tasks and monitor programs in support of goals as directed, and support the Air Force Secretariat with data gathering, team organization, liaison, analysis and/or options for action. Principal tasks included standing up Cyberspace Forces and placing Precision Strike technology and Real Time Streaming Video targeting links into the hands of groundfighters in combat.
Cyber-security and UAV technology? See my related Air Force story from this week: Gorgon Stare – Revolutionary Airborne Surveillance System
Wheeler received an Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Award in 2008 that read, in part:
Grasping the growing vulnerability of our weapon systems to Cyber intrusions, he worked tirelessly to drive the activation of Air Force Cyber Command. His visionary efforts were instrumental in the creation of the Cyber Research Center at the Air Force Institute of Technology; the first of two graduates of the United States Air Force Academy to enter the Air Force Institute of Technology Cyber Master’s Program; the stand-up of the Air Force Cyber School; and an increased emphasis on Air Force recruitment efforts for officers and enlisted for Cyber careers.
Wheeler’s political and military biography suggests there may be more behind his death than some random crime, such as a botched robbery or random street murder, but it does involve theft. Interviews with the security guard stationed at the parking garage where Wheeler was last seen reveal that Wheeler informed her that his briefcase had been stolen (and his parking ticket was in the briefcase). Who stole it and why? While I’m not dismissing the fact that a random street crime might have occurred in which he lost his briefcase, how did his body end up in a commercial dumpster and carted off to the landfill hours later? And was his confused state of mind due to head trauma or having been drugged? Neither the parking attendent nor the security guard said he had visible injuries, other than looking “disheveled.”
Might Wheeler have been preparing to blow the whistle on some impropriety? That is a possibility suggested by Lt. Farrall’s acknowledgement of the FBI’s involvement. Common sense dictates such suspicion even without Farrall’s acknowledgement, however, and hopefully the Newark police will pursue this angle in their investigation.
But whom would he blow the whistle on? He was privy to a wide variety of information, ranging from defense contracts to cyber-security initiatives, UAV technology, insider trading, Wall Street and the SEC, transactions involving Boeing, the Pentagon and of course Presidents George Bush, I and II.
Despite Wheeler’s work at the highest levels of government, the picture we’ve been given by colleagues indicates a man who was particularly selfless—who would dedicate himself to causes like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or MADD. Might he have seen something he didn’t like during his consultancy that didn’t agree with his sense of rightness?
Worth consideration, but difficult to prove, especially in the world of intelligence.
But, to throw another monkey wrench into this mystery, Wheeler’s attorney Bayard Marin told CNN that “his client had been involved in a lengthy legal fight with a couple building a new home across the street in a historic district of New Castle, about 6 miles south of Wilmington. Wheeler had adamantly opposed the new construction.”
Frank and Reginia Marini, the neighbors, were sued by John Wheeler and his wife in 2009 due to their attempt to build a house that, inevitably, would block the Wheelers’ view of the Delaware River from their own home. Marin indicates that none of the arguments were out of bounds and had remained rather civil.
If that were not enough of a wrinkle, there are news reports coming out now – from an “unnamed source within the police department” (that means disinformation agent) – that Wheeler was observed throwing an incendiary bomb into the new home construction of his neighbor in which he was having a dispute. Other sources are saying that an unknwon suspect had thrown a smoke bomb into the house. No damage was reported or able to be seen in the house and firefighters confirm it was merely a smoke bomb.
Does John Wheeler sound like the type of nearly 70-year old man who would risk such a long, self-less and prominent career by throwing an incendiary bomb into a house in which he was currently bringing legal action against? Wheeler was no idiot. In fact, he was a Distinguished Graduate of Westpoint before moving onto graduating Harvard with distinction and finally, Yale law school. A CEO of several successful companies and startups, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a former staff officer at the Pentagon and being chosen by three seperate Presidents to work under them (regardless of my opinion of those Presidents) does not fit the profile of the deranged, drunken, angry neighbor that the mass media is trying to present.
And finally, one last mystery -
John Wheeler’s other neighber, Ron Roark, states that for several days before Wheeler’s body turned up in the landfill, Wheeler’s television was extremely loud, to the point of disturbing and was on for long periods at a time – “continuous for days…”
Law enforcement officials have searched Wheeler’s home for a crime scene or other evidence, but state it was not the scene of the murder. However, police tape could be seen through the windows, taped to kitchen chairs inside the home. The floorboards had been pulled up, as if someone were looking for something. While it’s not confirmed as to whether police pulled the boards up or if it were someone else, the police tape surrounding the scene leads me to believe the police did not do it and the tape was in place to preserve the scene.
Could that explain the need for the loud television? To mask the sound of demolition, interrogation or even torture? Sounds cliche, but then again, this entire case sounds like a Perry Mason episode.
Hayden’s After Thought and Conspiracy Note:
Having been a Yale graduate, working under both Bushes, the Pentagon and in general, being in the same circle as those in the intelligence community and defense sector, I started wondering what other circles he mingled in.
He was a Law Journal Officer and Note Editor for the Yale Law Journal, an extremely well-respected and highly regarded law journal. The journal is one of the most cited legal publications in the nation and usually generates the highest number of citations per published article. And when someone mentions Yale, one can’t resist mentioning the secret society (essentially a private Yale fraternity) of Skull and Bones.
Skull and Bones traditionally “tapped” those that it viewed as campus leaders and other notable figures for its membership. Traditionally, groups such as the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Yale Political Union, Yale Daily News and of course, the Law Journal were well represented. Therefore, it is feasible to assume that John Wheeler was either a member of or associated with members of Skull and Bones due to his esteemed respect on campus and his position with the Law Journal. Other notable members of Skull and Bones are Stephen A. Schwarzman, the founder of Blackstone Investment, Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Harold Stanley, co-founder of Morgan Stanley, and of course – both George Herbert Walker Bush and his son, George W. Bush. In fact, George H.W. Bush’s father and grandfather were both members of the private and secret society.
While this certainly doesn’t mean anything nefarious on it’s own merits, it is worth noting in order to understand his past and map his path to the Pentagon, defense sector and essentially how he became an aide and advisor to multiple Presidents.
It is also worth noting that he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
John Wheeler III’s resume:
1966 Distinguished graduate, Bachelor of Science degree, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
1969 Master of Business Administration degree, with distinction, Harvard Business School, Cambridge, Mass.
1975 Juris Doctor, Yale Law School, New Haven, Conn.
1. 1966 – 1967, fire control platoon leader, nuclear Nike Hercules site, Franklin Lakes, N.J.
2. 1967 – 1969, graduate student, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. (summer 1968, systems analyst (Strategic Programs), Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, D.C.)
3. 1969 – 1970, member of the General Staff, Headquarters U.S. Army Vietnam, Long Binh, Vietnam
4. 1970 – 1971, staff officer, Joint Staff, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
5. 1971 – 1972, senior planner, Amtrak, Washington, D.C.
6. 1972 – 1975, law student, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
7. 1975 – 1976, law clerk, George E. MacKinnon, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
8. 1976 – 1978, Associate, Shea and Gardner Law Firm, Washington, D.C.
9. 1978 – 1986, Assistant General Counsel, Special Counsel to Chairman, and Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, Washington, D.C. (1980 – 1981, on loan per President Reagan to create Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program)
10. 1986 – 1988, self-employed specialist in startups and turnarounds of companies, charities
11. 1988 – 1989, President G.H.W. Bush Transition Team to create Earth Conservation Corps, Washington, D.C.
12. 1989 – 1997, self-employed specialist in startups and turnarounds of companies, charities
13. 1997 – 2001, President and CEO, Deafness Research Foundation, Washington, D.C.
14. 2001 – 2005, self-employed specialist in startups and turnarounds of companies, charities (2004 – 2005, consultant to acting Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Washington, D.C.)
15. 2005 – 2008, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C.
16. 2008-2009 Special Assistant to the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Logistics and Energy.
17. 2009. Consultant to Mitre Corporation.
AWARDS AND HONORS
Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Award with Bronze Device
Joint Service Commendation Medal
U.S. Representative, Pew Foundation, British American Project
Law Journal Officer and Note Editor, Yale Law School
Languages: Fluent Spanish
1979 – 1989, Chairman, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
1983 – 1987, Chairman and CEO, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
1993 – present, created, then CEO Vietnam Children’s Fund
PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
District of Columbia Bar; Council on Foreign Relations
John Wheeler III was beaten to death in an assault, the Delaware medical examiner’s office announced today. The official cause of Wheeler’s slaying was “blunt force trauma,” agency spokesman Karl Kanefsky said.
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