February 1, 2011 / 11:29 PM / 8 years ago

Family of slain Pentagon worker offers $25,000 reward

WILMINGTON (Reuters) - The family of a slain Pentagon official who served during President George W. Bush’s administration is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the capture of his killer, the family’s attorney said.

John P. Wheeler III, a former Pentagon political appointee in President George W. Bush's administration, is shown in this Newark, Delaware Police Department handout photograph released to Reuters on January 4, 2011. REUTERS/The Newark Police Department/Handout

The body of John Wheeler III was found in a Wilmington landfill on New Year’s Eve, after it fell from a trash truck dumping refuse picked up in Newark, Delaware.

Authorities say Wheeler, 66, died of blunt force trauma sustained in a beating, and a spokesman for the Newark police department said on Tuesday there were no developments in the case.

Family members, “desperate for information” and “desperate for an explanation,” will pay a $25,000 reward, said their attorney Colm Connolly.

They “have no idea what’s happened, what caused a violent death,” the attorney said in a videotape interview posted online on Sunday on delawareonline.com, a web site operated by The News Journal newspaper.

He said the family only learned the medical examiner’s findings on the cause of death last week from the media.

“There’s all sorts of speculation, and then they’re operating in the dark. The authorities are not sharing information with them at this point,” said Connolly.

The police spokesman would not comment on the Wheeler family’s statements about being kept out of the loop.

Wheeler last contacted his family on December 29 via e-mail, and surveillance video taken at a parking garage the same day showed him acting disoriented.

A day later another surveillance video showed him walking down a Wilmington street before leaving camera range. His body was found at the landfill the next day.

Wheeler, who lived in New Castle, Delaware, was a special assistant to the Air Force Secretary in the Bush administration from 2005 to 2008. He was also a Vietnam War veteran and a defense contractor who worked in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and he served as a chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund which built the Washington memorial.

Reporting by Chris Michaud in New York; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton

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