A former Bush aide whose body was found at a Delaware landfill was acting erratic before his death, and may have been involved in a plot to burn down his neighbor’s house, published reports suggested Wednesday.
Police sources told The Philadelphia Enquirer that they had found evidence linking John Parsons Wheeler III to incendiary devices at the home of a neighbor with whom he had a disagreement.
“The source emphasized that the evidence does not shed light on the murder itself, but it has helped detectives understand Wheeler’s state of mind before he disappeared,” the Enquirer reported.
Wheeler, 66, was found dead in Cherry Grove landfill on Dec. 31. Police have been piecing together clues from his final days.
The former presidential adviser was seen in Happy Harry’s pharmacy last Wednesday, around 6 p.m.
“He said, ‘Can you give me a ride to Wilmington?’ and that was a flag,” pharmacist Murali Gouro told The News Journal. “He looked like he was a little upset.”
Wheeler left after declining the pharmacist’s offer to call a cab, officials said.
Less than an hour later, a man matching Wheeler’s description asked a parking lot attendant in Wilmington for help finding his car.
“He really didn’t look good to me,” Iman Goldsborough told MyFox 9 in Philadelphia. “I asked him are you okay? He was like, no. He was just trying to get warm.”
“He didn’t have a coat on. And it was really cold out this evening. And he had one shoe on, and he was wandering around, looking around.”
“He had on a black suit and burgundy penny loafers. And he was holding one shoe in his hand,” she said. “He just told me he wanted to get warm before he paid for his ticket.”
“He just didn’t seem like he was really there. He seemed like he was disoriented. Actually I thought he had dementia or something,” Goldsborough added.
In surveillance video released by police, a disoriented Wheeler was shown as late as Thursday at 8 p.m., wandering through the historic Nemours Building in Wilmington.
Wheeler was a Army veteran who also worked as advisor to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. He played an instrumental role in the creation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
This video is from the Associated Press, uploaded to YouTube Jan. 5, 2011.