A professional hit may have been behind the mysterious death of former Pentagon adviser John P. Wheeler 3d, according to his widow.

Katherine Klyce, speaking to an online magazine, also shed light on reports that Wheeler appeared disoriented in the days before his body was found at a Wilmington landfill on New Year's Eve.

"He was disoriented every day in his life," and took lithium to treat his bipolar disorder, Klyce told Slate late last week.

"He couldn't walk from here to CVS without specifically drawn maps," she said. ". . . He was a touch Asperger-y. He couldn't read faces. He couldn't gauge other people's reactions."

Surveillance footage from a Wilmington parking garage showed Wheeler without a coat and carrying a shoe the night before he was last seen. But Klyce wasn't surprised. "He didn't care about clothes," she said. "Jack was oblivious."

His body was found when it fell out of a trash truck at the Cherry Island landfill on the morning of Dec. 31. Apparently he had wound up in a Newark, Del., dumpster, and some speculated the death might have been accidental.

Late last month, Delaware's chief medical examiner announced that Wheeler died from "blunt-force trauma after being assaulted."

Toxicology tests apparently ruled out medications or other drugs, though the medical examiner's office declined to elaborate.

Perhaps a mugger disposed of Wheeler - a 66-year-old West Point grad who was the leading fund-raiser for Washington's Vietnam Veterans Memorial - in a trash bin.

But Klyce doubts it.

"The way they disposed of his body, it's a miracle anybody ever found it," she told Slate. "That just sounds like a pro to me."

That view is shared by others, including retired Lt. General Tom McInerney who told FoxNews in early January, "This has to have been a professional hit job. . . . He had some of the highest security clearance this nation has, and it needs to be looked at by the FBI."

Klyce, who lives in New Castle, Del., complained in the interview about how Newark police were handling the case.

"The cops just made our lives miserable," she said.

"They just don't have a clue," said Klyce. "I think they wish it would all just go away."

She felt someone should have informed her in advance about the blunt-force trauma determination. Instead, she said she found out through the media.

Newark police declined to respond to Kylce's comments.

"Our top priority remains solving the case and bringing to justice those responsible for his murder," said Lt. Mark Farrall, department spokesman. "As a result we do not have any plans to release information which could potentially jeopardize our investigation."

Klyce and her family have posted a reward of $25,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.