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Unsolved murder case frustrates widow of ex-federal official

By Susan Candiotti and Ross Levitt, CNN
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Death of Jack Wheeler still a puzzle
  • Widow doesn't understand why case still unsolved
  • Authorities not sharing information, family attorney says
  • Consultant served in 3 White House administrations

New York (CNN) -- It's been seven weeks since former Pentagon official John Wheeler suffered a fatal blow, his body thrown in a trash bin and trucked to a landfill where his remains were spotted New Year's Eve.

And as the weeks drag on, Wheeler's widow Katherine Klyce and their entire family are having a hard time understanding why authorities haven't been able to solve the case yet.

Klyce spoke briefly by phone with CNN and it was clear she and her family are becoming increasingly antagonized with the investigation.

"The family is frustrated that information hasn't been shared with them, incredibly frustrated that as of now, there are no answers about what happened to Jack Wheeler," family attorney Colm Connolly told CNN.

"Everybody is extremely frustrated," said Wheeler's former West Point roommate, retired Army Col. Doug Thornblom.

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When a medical examiner announced that Wheeler died of "blunt force trauma after being assaulted," the family didn't hear about it from authorities, but from the media, Connolly said.

Newark, Delaware, police did not return calls asking for comment Sunday.

Klyce spent Christmas with her husband at their home in New York. He returned to the Washington, D.C., area December 27. He was seen in and around Wilmington, Delaware, near their second home in New Castle, just before New Year's.

Klyce was unable to reach her husband on his cell phone during that time. "That just made me madder, " she told the online magazine Slate. She said the couple was supposed to be in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a wedding New Year's Eve. She went alone.

The family's attorney says the Wheeler family is troubled over a possible motive.

"They don't know if this was a random act of violence or a targeted killing. At times, they think it was deliberate, at times, random, " Connolly told CNN. Why do they go back and forth? "Because there are so many unanswered questions," he said.

At the time of his death, Wheeler, 66, worked as a consultant for Mitre, described as a nonprofit research and development company in the Washington, D.C., area.

Wheeler also was the first chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and oversaw fund raising to construct the memorial. He worked in the administrations of presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. From 2005 to 2008, he was a special assistant to the secretary of the Air Force.

Wheeler's family also is trying to make sense of disturbing images of Wheeler on security cameras in a parking garage. In the videos, he appears confused and disoriented. He was carrying a shoe in a Wilmington parking garage before he disappeared.

Wheeler's widow told Slate her husband was bipolar and taking lithium.

"We're trying to figure out whether his medical issues could help explain any of the events," Connolly told CNN.

After the murder, Klyce was a victim of identify theft, he said. Someone charged a $3,000 overseas airline ticket from New York to Madrid on her credit card. However, Connolly said Wheeler did not carry his wife's card and a link to his murder seems highly unlikely.

In April, Wheeler will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. The family is offering a $25,000 reward for help in solving his death.

"Family members are struggling with the fact that they don't know what happened, and no one has come forward to tell them what happened," Connolly said.