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Former White House Aide's Murder: Police Start With Garbage Truck's Route

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John Wheeler was a leading figure in the movement to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a West Point graduate, a veteran and a top defense expert in three Republican administrations.

His death has caught national attention. The 66-year-old Wheeler’s body was found on New Year’s Eve “as a garbage truck emptied its contents at the Cherry Island landfill.” As the Associated Press adds, police say it was a homicide, though they haven’t said anything about how he died.

The local News Journal of Wilmington, Del., writes that police say they have tracked the route of the garbage truck that ended up bringing Wheeler’s body to the Cherry Island Landfill in the city. According to Lt. Mark Farrall of the Newark Police, the truck made 10 pick ups on the eastern side of Newark, Del., before getting to the landfill:

Wheeler was supposed to be on an Amtrak train from Washington to Wilmington last Tuesday, but it’s now thought he may not have been.

Update at 10 a.m. ET. More about Wheeler:

At Time magazine’s Swampland blog, Mark Thompson writes that Wheeler “was one of those outer planets in the capital’s solar system, never drawing too close to the Sun but riding the country’s business in an elliptical orbit that would bring him closer to the heat every once in awhile.” Wheeler was also, Thompson writes, a “Renaissance man”

The Atlantic‘s James Fellows was a friend of Wheeler’s. He writes that Wheeler:

“Was a complicated man of very intense (and sometimes changeable) friendships, passions, and causes. His most recent crusade was to bring ROTC back to elite campuses, as noted here. That is what I was corresponding with him about in recent months. To be within e-mail range of Jack was to look forward to frequent, lengthy, often urgent-sounding and often overwrought dispatches on the state of the struggle. Late at night on Christmas Day, I was surprised to see this simple note from him: “ ‘Jim, Merry Christmas, Old Friend. Onward and upward.’ “ ‘Jack’ ”

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