Body of former George W. Bush appointee found in landfill
(Reuters) - A former Pentagon political appointee in President George W. Bush's administration was found dead in a Delaware landfill on New Year's Eve, and police are treating it as a homicide.
The body of John P. Wheeler III, 66, was discovered falling off a truck into a trash pile by an employee at the Cherry Island Landfill in Wilmington at about 10 a.m. local time on December 31, Lt. Mark Farrall of the Newark, Del. police said on Monday.
"A spotter observed a body coming out of a truck," Farrall said.
The truck had collected trash from dumpsters in 10 locations in Newark, Farrall said. The body's position in the trash truck suggested the dumpster containing it was emptied at the beginning of the route, police said.
The Delaware medical examiner's office has ruled the death a homicide. The cause of death was not immediately released.
Wheeler, a resident of New Castle, Del., was a special assistant to the Air Force Secretary in the Bush administration from 2005 to 2008, according to Air Force spokesman Maj. Joel Harper. The position is a political appointment but did not require Senate confirmation.
He also was a Vietnam War veteran and a defense contractor who worked in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as well.
He is a past chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund which built the Washington memorial.
Police are trying to trace Wheeler's movements after December 28, when he had planned to take a train from Washington to Wilmington, Farrall said.
According to Atlantic magazine writer James Fallows, whose column about his friend Wheeler was published early Monday, Wheeler was "a complicated man of very intense (and sometimes changeable) friendships, passions and causes."