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The Marinis said in a statement they offered “heartfelt sympathies” to the families of Mr. Wheeler and his wife, Katherine Klyce. Police have given no indication whether they believe the property dispute had anything to do with Mr. Wheeler’s death.

“It is one facet of the investigation,” Lt. Farrall said.

On Dec. 29, the day before Mr. Wheeler was last see alive, he had asked a pharmacist in New Castle for a ride to Wilmington, about five miles away. Pharmacist Murali Gouro, who had filled Mr. Wheeler’s prescriptions in the past, said Mr. Wheeler looked upset, the News Journal of Wilmington reported.

Farther south along Interstate 95, the Associated Press traced the garbage truck’s path through downtown Newark before it headed to the Cherry Island landfill where workers saw Mr. Wheeler’s body falling out of the truck as it unloaded. Investigators have said they believe the body was in a bin early in the truck’s run.

Whoever dumped the body of a prominent national defense consultant into a garbage bin in a bustling college town risked being detected, either by witnesses or surveillance cameras, with some of the containers in well-lit parking lots, near restaurants and stores, according to AP’s trace of the garbage route.

The garbage truck’s route is 10 miles from Mr. Wheeler’s home in New Castle. Investigators have searched the home, where yellow police tape was in the kitchen, but they have not identified it as a crime scene.

In New York, police searched the condominium Mr. Wheeler and Mrs. Klyce shared in a brick building on 124th Street in Manhattan, where they had lived for at least three years.

Building superintendent Jay Hosein said Tuesday that he saw Mrs. Klyce last week, and that she seemed happy and cheerful.

Efforts by the Associated Press to contact Mrs. Klyce have been unsuccessful. Mr. Wheeler’s family issued a statement through Newark police Monday asking for privacy.

Mr. Wheeler had twins, a son and daughter, by his first wife. Mrs. Klyce has two daughters from a previous marriage.

Elizabeth Thorp, a board member of the Deafness Research Foundation, of which Mr. Wheeler had formerly been CEO, said the circumstances of his death were “too surreal.”

She said he moved in a sophisticated crowd.

“This is not a guy who would end up in landfill or be murdered,” she said. “It’s a gigantic loss.”

Associated Press writers David Dishneau in Hagerstown, Md., Kasey Jones in Baltimore, Randall Chase in Wilmington, Del., and Colleen Long in New York City contributed to this story.