A MURDER investigation is underway in the US after the body of a military expert who served in three Republican administrations was found dumped in a landfill site.
Investigators are trying to retrace John Wheeler's steps in the days leading up to his death.
Mr Wheeler, 66, who had not been reported missing, was supposed to have been on an Amtrak train from Washington to Wilmington, Delaware, on December 28 but authorities say it is not clear if he ever made it.
His body was found three days later, on New Year's Eve, as a rubbish truck emptied its contents at the Cherry Island landfill site. His death has been ruled a homicide.
Mr Wheeler served as a US Army staff officer in Vietnam and later worked as Defence Adviser in the Reagan and George Bush Senior and Junior administrations.
He also helped lead efforts to build the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial wall in Washington and was the second chairman and chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Before the rubbish truck arrived at the landfill, it stopped to pick up commercial disposal bins in Newark, several miles from Mr Wheeler's home.
Investigators have been to the home he shared with his wife, Katherine Klyce. It was not considered a crime scene, said Newark police spokesman Lt Mark Farrall.
Initial police reports that Mr Wheeler was last seen getting off an Amtrak train on December 28 were incorrect, Lt Farrall said. Investigators do not know how long Mr Wheeler might have been missing or where and when he was last seen, although a friend said he received an email from him the day after Christmas.