The unsolved murder of a former White House aide has confounded his family and experts alike for over a decade, and his professional ties and endeavors only add mystery to the case.
The body of John Wheeler III, also known as Jack Wheeler, was discovered on New Year's Eve of 2010 in a Wilmington, Delaware landfill by a worker. He was wearing his prestigious West Point Military Academy ring, a hint at his remarkable life. A coroner soon determined that he had been murdered, but nobody was ever arrested or even named a suspect. His unsolved murder remains all the more frustrating due to the strange circumstances surrounding his death, which is explored in a new batch of “Unsolved Mysteries” episodes.
The episode about Wheeler, entitled “Washington Insider Murder,” explains how Wheeler was last spotted at a New Castle courthouse, panicked and telling a parking garage attendant that his briefcase had been stolen. His home in New Castle had also been ransacked prior to vanishing. Furthermore, days before his death, on Dec. 28, someone had set off incendiary devices at a construction site near his home.
Wheeler’s wife, Kathy Klyce, who was visiting family out of town at the time of his death, told the Washington Post in 2017 that she suspects the man behind the destruction may have been Wheeler himself.
If true, it would have been an unusual move for a man of Wheeler’s accolades. Famous for playing a large role in creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, he had also worked for the George H. W. Bush administration and served as a special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force. Most recently, at the time he died, he was working as a consultant for the Mitre Corporation.
Wheeler had told his wife he needed to spend a couple of days working at Mitre in Washington following Christmas, and while he didn’t divulge the details, he told her that it was “important,” according to the Washington Post.
Mitre is a defense contracting firm which specializes in areas such as artificial intelligence, satellite systems, space security, and cybersecurity, according to its website. It is considered to be a not-for-profit organization that manages federally-funded research and development centers that support government agencies. Wheeler was working in the organization's cybersecurity department when he died.
The cybersecurity subpage of Mitre’s website states that it works with “federal agencies to solve hard problems in cybersecurity.” It is behind MITRE ATT&CK, which provides organizations with ever-evolving cyberthreat information.
“He was working on the issues that we're seeing now made manifest with, you know, Russia interfering with the election, Russia and China supposedly hacking into our power grid,” investigative journalist Steve Volk, who authored the 2017 WashPo piece on Wheeler, said in the show. “That’s the stuff that Wheeler was working on at the time. The problem though is that there is nothing to connect those parts of his bio to his actual murder.”
The show notes that Wheeler’s work briefcase, which he was hardly ever seen without and which he was distraught over before his death, was never recovered.
Anyone with information about Wheeler’s death is urged to contact the Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or on delawarecrimestoppers.com or unsolved.com.
The episode on Wheeler and five other new "Unsolved Mysteries" episodes will be available for streaming on Netflix on Oct. 19.
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