A parking garage attendant at a Delaware courthouse called a security guard last Wednesday to report “a homeless man in the garage.” But when Cathleen Boyer arrived, she didn’t find a homeless man—she found John Wheeler, respected political operative, carrying his right shoe. “He had dirt on his right leg. His eyes were red, like he was crying or something and he said he was robbed,” Boyer tells the News Journal. He was erratically searching for his car—which was in another garage blocks away.
Wheeler was last seen alive the next evening, and turned up dead in a trash truck on New Year’s Eve. People who saw him that night say he seemed disoriented, rambling about his family and a rental car. Earlier, he had walked into a pharmacy and asked for a ride to Wilmington, declining and leaving when the pharmacist offered to call a cab. At the garage, two state workers offered him money. “He said 'I have plenty of money,’” Boyer recalls. “After he left, I said to myself, I should have called the cops” to help him.