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Slain defense expert seen on video in garage

A slain defense expert changed clothes between when he was videotaped in a parking garage and another appearance on surveillance footage the next night, police said Friday. He was found dead in a Delaware landfill the day after the second video was taken.

The new description of ex-Pentagon official John P. Wheeler III adds another piece to the puzzling circumstances surrounding his death.

Surveillance video captured the 66-year-old New Castle resident walking away from the Nemours office building in downtown Wilmington around 8:40 p.m. Dec. 30, wearing dark pants and a dark blue sweatshirt with the hood up, said Lt. Mark Farrall of the Newark police department.

The previous night, Wheeler wore a dark business suit and dress shirt in surveillance video from a downtown Wilmington parking garage.

Farrall declined to say how Wheeler's body was dressed when it was found New Year's Eve morning in a load of trash collected from a string of garbage bins in Newark.

The state medical examiner has ruled the case a homicide, but the cause of death is pending toxicology tests.

On both nights before he died, witnesses reported that Wheeler seemed confused and disoriented. He told the parking garage attendant he had been robbed of his briefcase, and he refused offers of help from people inside the Nemours building.

A longtime friend, attorney Arthur Schulcz of Vienna, Va., said Friday that Wheeler posted cogent comments online shortly after 5 p.m. Dec. 28. He said Wheeler had written in typically spirited fashion on a U.S. Military Academy alumni forum about the corrupting influence of NCAA football.

Schulcz said other West Point classmates told him Wheeler didn't respond to their e-mails Dec. 29.

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