The high-profile murder of former White House aide Jack Wheeler is featured in Unsolved Mysteries, and while the 47-minute episode covers a lot of information, there are some details left out. His wife, Kathy Klyce, last saw him on the morning of December 28, and on December 31, 2010, Wheeler’s remains were discovered in the Cherry Island Landfill in Wilmington, Delaware. While the investigators were able to trace the body to a dumpster in Newark, Delaware, how he got in the dumpster — and who is responsible — is still a mystery.
Unsolved Mysteries is a documentary series produced by Netflix. The show was actually a long-running series hosted by Robert Stack, which aired from the late ’80s right into the 2000s. In the original format, several “unsolved mysteries” — whether they be criminal cold cases or unexplained paranormal phenomena — were featured per episode, with actors reenacting the events. The Netflix reboot follows the style of contemporary true-crime documentaries, focusing on just one case per episode. Jack Wheeler’s murder is the focus of the first episode of Unsolved Mysteries Volume 2, “Washington Insider Murder.”
Jack Wheeler’s death was disconcerting for a number of reasons. He was a well-connected man with strong ties to the US government and high-security clearance. At the time of his death, he was working as a consultant for the Mitre Corporation, dealing specifically with cybersecurity. There have been persistent theories that Jack’s connections to high-ranking officials or his line of work made him the target of a hit-for-hire. However, no clear motive for the Jack Wheeler death was ever revealed in the Netflix documentary series.
What Unsolved Mysteries Leaves Out About Jack Wheeler
Unsolved Mysteries is not impartial, and the episodes often present a bias coloring the story (for example, a Volume 1 episode includes footage that paints Patrice Endres’ husband Rob as creepy, leading many viewers to assume he is responsible for her murder). For the case of Jack Wheeler, what Unsolved Mysteries omits — as well as what it includes — develops a particular narrative for the crime being investigated. The show focuses on celebrating Wheeler’s accomplishments and frames his murder as most likely a professional hit. However, it also downplays Wheeler’s erratic behavior leading to his death.
What Unsolved Mysteries Leaves Out About Wheeler’s Home
“Washington Insider Murder” includes testimony from Robert Dill, a self-described friend of Wheeler’s and a neighbor of the deceased’s Wilmington home. He describes how the day Wheeler’s body was discovered, he had contacted the police believing there had been a burglary at the house. Netflix’s true crime episode features photos of the scene, while Dill describes entering the home and observing a chaotic mess in the kitchen, including seeing a footprint on the floor. To further complicate the story, there was an existing criminal investigation focusing on a house under construction across from Wheeler’s home: just days before Wheeler’s body was discovered, an unknown assailant had set off smoke bombs in the property, causing damage — a property that Wheeler was upset about, and was actively trying to stop from being built. Wheeler’s cellphone was recovered from the latter crime scene, suggesting he may have been involved in the possible arson attempt. Later in Unsolved Mysteries‘ episode, Steve Volk, an investigative journalist, suggests that the mess in Wheeler’s home could have been caused by Wheeler himself: Wheeler had bipolar disorder, and it’s within the realm of possibility that he was in the throes of an episode prompted by stress — perhaps from him realizing he dropped his cellphone while setting off the smoke bombs.
There are some details about this particular aspect of the story that Netflix omits. According to an article in The Register, published just days after the murder, another neighbor had testified that Wheeler’s television “blared continuously in the days preceding his death” and that evidence was possibly taken from the home “even though Delaware police have said the victim’s home is not considered a crime scene.” The Unsolved Mysteries episode seems intentionally vague on whether the police considered the kitchen a crime scene. The aforementioned article references floorboards being missing — likely because police were investigating the footprint in the kitchen. Yet, this is never explained in the episode. It should have been fairly easy for police to determine whether or not it belonged to Jack himself — and if it didn’t, that would disprove the theory that he tossed his own home. It’s strange that this particular detail is never explained in the episode.
According to a Washington Post article from 2017, the police did investigate the home and found among the disarray — which included Wheeler’s prized ceremonial sword from West Point — “a book lay open on the kitchen counter. It was “The Long Gray Line,” by former Washington Post reporter Rick Atkinson, a nonfiction account of West Point’s Class of 1966, in which Wheeler featured prominently.” When Unsolved Mysteries‘ Jack Wheeler was found, he was wearing his West Point class of ’66 ring. How all this connects with Wheeler’s subsequent behavior and death is unclear, but there is a connecting thread: Wheeler, a Vietnam War veteran, was upset about the house being built on Battery Park because he believed the site held significant cultural (public) value as a historic military site.
Unsolved Mysteries Leaves Out Wheeler’s Possible Arson Attempt
According to the same Washington Post article, another neighbor, Scott Morris, had called the police on the night of December 28 after seeing a figure in the home under construction “methodically lighting what looked like small balls of fire and tossing them on the floor.” These were the smoke bombs referenced in Unsolved Mysteries (although the episode never clarifies the kind, The Register article suggests rodent smoke bombs were used). The article also discusses how Wheeler had filed a lawsuit trying to prevent the construction of a home across from his. The home in question was being built on a slice of private land within Battery Park — which Wheeler considered “sacrilege.” He was apparently upset that construction had continued despite his pending case.
Adding yet another layer to this mystery is that Unsolved Mysteries leaves out Klyce’s theory that her husband was killed because of his involvement in trying to get the house constructed halted. The Washington Post article describes how the Unsolved Mysteries case Wheeler had developed an interest in hacking, and may have tried to hack someone involved in the project: “One of the to-do lists Wheeler left behind, dated Dec. 5, mentions hacking a target associated with the construction dispute.” Kylce also suggests in the article that Wheeler believed corrupt government officials in Delaware had allowed this — in his mind illegal — construction to take place, and she suggests that if Wheeler had been caught attempting arson or hacking, he may have been targeted because of it.
Unsolved Mysteries Leaves Out Jack Wheeler’s Actual Cause of Death
The problem with the Unsolved Mysteries treatment of Wheeler’s cause of death is that it omits a significant detail mentioned in the Washington Post article. The episode describes how his body was dumped, how the coroner determined the cause of death was homicide caused by blunt force trauma, and that the various injuries were consistent with a severe beating. What the episode doesn’t include, however, is that Jack Wheeler suffered a heart attack as well.
Jack Wheeler Was Fighting With His Wife Kathy Kylce
The episode “Washington Insider Murder” fails to mention one key aspect to this mystery: that Wheeler and his wife Klyce were fighting (the Netflix series does include a mention that Klyce was upset about him leaving so soon after Christmas, but in general the episode downplays the disagreement). The Washington Post article indicates that Wheeler had emailed his therapist following his fight with Kylce saying he felt “dazed” and “boxed in a corner.” It’s understandable why Netflix’s true-crime documentary series leaves out such painful personal details, especially out of respect for the grieving widow. Furthermore, including that information runs the risk of implying Klyce had something to do with her husband’s murder. Regardless, knowing that they had had a disagreement explains why Klyce was not more alarmed when she didn’t hear from him for over 24 hours.
Other Details Unsolved Mysteries Leaves Out About Jack Wheeler’s Death
Unsolved Mysteries series leaves out some smaller details regarding Jack Wheeler’s death as well. The episode doesn’t mention that he visited the Nemours Building, a high-end office high-rise, possibly to consult a lawyer. Not only that, but he had requested to speak with a managing partner at the firm. The Netflix episode focuses on how Wheeler may have spent the night in the building’s basement, but asserts — through Volk’s testimony — that no one really knows why he was there. The episode also colors the incident at the parking garage, downplaying the bizarre nature of the situation. Volk and Klyce both provide detailed descriptions of how “directionally challenged” Wheeler was, explaining his presence at the wrong parking garage as not that out of the ordinary. What the Unsolved Mysteries episode doesn’t include though, is that at the time, he repeatedly told the attendants that he “wasn’t drunk” (suggesting he perhaps was acting like he was). A point of note mentioned in several news articles but not in the episode is that Wheeler didn’t have a coat on (aside from his suit jacket) despite how frigidly cold the night was. In general, Unsolved Mysteries offers a fair and balanced account of the events leading up to Wheeler’s murder, and much of the information that was left out was likely omitted either out of respect for the victim and his family, or simply because it unnecessarily complicated the already-complicated story.
Theories About Unsolved Mysteries’ Jack Wheeler Death
Like all episodes of Unsolved Mysteries, the death of Jack Wheeler left behind far more questions than answers, but multiple theories have popped up from online true crime aficionados. One of the biggest Reddit theories floating around is that Jack Wheeler was assassinated, though the motive behind such a thing is murky at best — except when one considers just how high up he was. While working for the Mitre Corporation, Wheeler was given some of the highest-clearance security possible, meaning that he was privy to many government secrets. There were rumors flying around that he was going to blow the whistle on a dumping of chemical weapons stash. One Jack Wheeler theory was assassinated by the U.S. government before he could talk. Another theory due to his status within the government is that he was killed by the Chinese, because of his knowledge of cyber-security secrets. The most condemning item of evidence to support the hitman theory is that his briefcase, and other work-related articles, were stolen prior to his demise.
Others believe the case is simply that of a mugging gone wrong. However, this is highly unlikely as valuables such as his Rolex were still in his possession when his body was found. Another theory is that, rather than his body being dumped in the dumpster, he climbed in there himself due to the bitter weather and a possible psychotic break. That being said, the severity of the blunt force trauma depicted in the Unsolved Mysteries episode was not indicative of being tossed around a dumpster or a garbage truck. Some postulate that Jack Wheeler was hit by a car. In the surveillance footage, his movements are erratic, meaning he very well could’ve stepped directly into traffic. In addition, being hit by a car would be on par with the injuries he sustained. Finally, some believe that Jack Wheeler from Unsolved Mysteries jumped from a moving car prior to climbing into the dumpster, then eventually died due to his injuries when the trash was picked up. Either way, Jack Wheeler’s death and the events surrounding it are increasingly bizarre, and the case may not be solved for a long time – or ever.