Police today identified his body and have ruled his death a homicide.
Wheeler served in President Ronald Reagan and both Bush administrations.
"He was just not the sort of person who would wind up in a landfill," said Bayard Marin, an attorney who was representing Wheeler in a building dispute.
Wheeler graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was the first chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund that led to the multimillion-dollar fundraising effort to create the memorial on the National Mall. Wheeler also was the first chief executive of “Mothers Against Drunk Driving.”