There has been no shortage of speculation about what happened to Wheeler, fueled partly by the release of videotapes that appeared to show him in a disoriented state just hours before his death:
The four-week delay has helped fuel rampant speculation that Wheeler, a defense consultant and expert on chemical and biological weapons, was poisoned by enemies--a theory that persisted in part because he was seen stumbling around Wilmington in the days before he died and officials said they were awaiting the results of toxicology tests.
Hal G. Brown, deputy director of the Medical Examiner's Office, said he did not know what medications or chemicals, if any, were in Wheeler's system, but said the death certificate makes it clear that toxicology "didn't play a role" in Wheeler's death.
We now know that Wheeler was beaten to death. But what does that tell us about who killed him and why?
Brown said blunt-force trauma describes the result of being struck with an object or a body part such as a fist. Brown added that Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Adrienne Sekula-Perlman, who handled Wheeler's autopsy, met with police and prosecutors Friday about her conclusions.
Newark police are the lead agency on a multi-force investigation because the garbage truck that dumped Wheeler's body at Wilmington's Cherry Island Landfill was emptying debris it had collected at trash bins in Newark. The FBI is also assisting with the probe.
Why would someone assault John Wheeler, and how many people might have been involved? Police don't seem to have the answers to those questions at the moment:
Lt. Mark Farrall, a Newark police spokesman, was mum Friday on the official word that Wheeler was killed in an assault. "I can't comment on his injuries," Farrall said.
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