Certainly any sane and rational human being would find themselves struggling to choose the single most batshit insane component of the thoroughly preposterous and repulsive “nobody died at Sandy Hook” conspiracy theory. And it’s because there are a whole lot of them – many of which contradict one another – and they’re all just so, so stupid. “It was a real shooting, but carried out by ‘Mossad death squads’!” That was what James Fetzer originally wanted everyone to believe, at least until he abruptly abandoned the notion, likely after realizing that it wasn’t outrageous enough to flesh out into a full-length book. “Adam Lanza never existed, and all photos of him are simply doctored photos of H.P. Lovecraft!” That’s a real one, I swear! Google it!
Personally, I believe the profoundly stupid claim that some of the victims – or, as the story goes, the child actors that played them (aaand then somehow disappeared forever) – magically aged five years in two months and then performed alongside Jennifer Hudson at Super Bowl XLVII is the clear-cut winner here. Hands down. The whole thing is just too bonkers, top to bottom. But coming in at a very close second for me is another absurdity that has a lot in common with the Super Bowl babble, such as logical gaps so large that you could drive a couple of bucket-wheel excavators through them, side-by-side; a healthy dose of Prosopagnosia; and of course the nonsensical belief that the Obama administration – or whichever bogeyman is alleged to have been responsible for orchestrating such incredible theater – was able to rope hundreds if not thousands of people into their grand scheme, only to risk it all by re-using “actors” in different, prominent “roles”. And that is the claim that David Wheeler, father of six year-old victim Benjamin Wheeler, played the part of both grieving father and FBI Special Agent on the day of the shooting. Ridiculous on its face, the myth has somehow endured, even in spite of a wealth of actual facts to the contrary.
Like many of the goofball claims that have come before (and after) it, this one began with a photo:
Despite having many of his identifying features – such as his eyes, chin, jawline, forehead, and hair – obscured by his helmet and sunglasses, conspiracy theorists were immediately and absolutely certain that this man was not a real Agent from the FBI, but Mr. Wheeler, seen here with his wife, Francine:
Once again ignoring the idea that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, the space cadets that make up the Sandy Hook denier cult chose not to do even the most rudimentary research and instead immediately began their usual campaign of spamming YouTube with their usual slanderous twaddle:
And that’s just one example. There are of course plenty more to be found on YouTube, where lax monetization policies make it all too simple for these lying schmucks to make a couple of bucks peddling their fairy tales. But the truth, while less exciting and therefore much less popular a subject on the video sharing platform, couldn’t be any easier to find. That is assuming that you actually want to find it.
Is this David Wheeler?
No, of course not.
So then who is it?
Towards the end of this video, taken from Getty Images and used by a great number of conspiracy theorists (although they often very mysteriously cut the footage just before this point), we can see this Agent’s last name printed on a patch, located on the back of his uniform:
As it turns out, this less-than-mystery man is William B. Aldenberg, a legitimate Special Agent employed by the New Haven (hence the NH in NH-24) division of the FBI. Special Agent Aldenerg is a fifteen year veteran of the force who has been involved in a number of high profile investigations involving everything from drug trafficking to public corruption.
How do we know that William Aldenberg responded to the shooting at Sandy Hook School that day?
In July of 2014, Special Agent William Aldenberg was one of 300 people honored by the Connecticut State Police for their help in shooting’s aftermath. He is listed here, under “Law Enforcement Support Personnel (State Police Troopers & Dispatchers, FBI, paramedics)”:
Law Enforcement Support Personnel (State Police Troopers & Dispatchers, FBI, paramedics)
FBI Special Agent William Aldenberg
William Aldenberg’s presence that day is further corroborated by TFC Daniel Jewiss of the Connecticut State Police in his statement, included in the state’s final report (00251204.pdf):
How do we know William Aldenberg is a real FBI agent?
In addition to his inclusion in the aforementioned ceremony, there is abundant evidence of his employment with the FBI all over the Internet, freely available to all:
February 2nd, 2005:
July 20th, 2005:
“According to lengthy affidavits filed by FBI Agent William Aldenberg, the two men and suppliers with whom they spoke via cellphones used code words to mask their transactions. The drugs were referred to alternately as ‘rice,’ ‘rice and beans,’ ‘roosters,’ or ‘bling bling’.”
September 14th, 2007:
August 12th, 2011:
“Ward, who now lives in Kentucky, spent hundreds of hours investigating the case. When the FBI got involved Ward said he shared all his information with FBI agent Bill Aldenberg, and was immediately shut out of the case.”
This 2011 document lists Agent Aldenberg as a member of the FBI Violent Crime/Gang Task Force, having participated in “Operation Northern Strike”:
FBI Violent Crime/Gang Task Force
FBI Special Agent Bill Aldenberg
FBI Special Agent Genaro Medina
FBI Special Agent Ryan James
FBI Special Agent Christian Roccia
May 30th, 2012:
I have been employed as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) since July 2002. While being trained as a Special Agent of the FBI, I have received training on how to investigate matters of public corruption, including attending the FBI’s basic public corruption course at the FBI Academy located in Quantico, Virginia. Furthermore, I have assisted other FBI Agents on public corruption investigations, to include interviewing witnesses and suspects, and executing arrest warrants and search warrants.”
June 2nd, 2012:
June 12th, 2012:
“Indications to that suspicion are contained in FBI Special Agent William Aldenberg’s affidavit filed May 30 in support of Braddock’s arrest. In it, Aldenberg disclosed that, on April 26, an unnamed co-conspirator began recording phone calls for the FBI.”
June 19th, 2012:
June 19th, 2014:
“The Financial Fraud and Public Corruption Unit Award was presented to FBI Special Agents William Aldenberg, Stacy Bowery, Matthew McPhillips, and Jeffrey Waterman, whose investigative efforts led to the successful prosecution of eight individuals who engaged in a scheme to direct illegal contributions into the campaign of a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives.”
October 30th, 2014:
How do we know someone wasn’t impersonating Special Agent Aldenberg that day?
Back in 2007, Special Agent Aldenberg sat down for an interview with Tracy Smith of the “Early Show” on CBS to discuss the case of missing person William Smolinski Jr. Video of this segment was available online when I had originally written this entry, but now appears to be gone. Here are a couple of stills from the appearance, giving an almost entirely (save for the glasses) unobstructed view of Mr. Aldenberg’s facial features:
Please keep in mind the fact that this interview took place somewhere around five years before the events of December 14th, 2012, so if you think he looks a little young to be the same Agent – say by maybe five years or so – well, there’s your answer.
Now that we know what Special Agent Aldenberg of the New Haven division of the FBI looks like, we are able to compare him to the Agent seen at Sandy Hook. Starting with a cropped version of a frame taken from the CBS interview, we can place it side-by-side with another cropped photo of the Agent in question. The latter is of middling quality, but is significant because the perspective of the head is very similar:
Even with the unfortunate quality – which is still significantly better than most of the intentionally blurred photos propagated by deniers – this is about as “apples to apples” as we’re going to get, and it’s a pretty clear match.
How do we know that David Wheeler isn’t a character played by Special Agent Aldenberg?
As we’ve seen elsewhere on this site, and as we’ve learned from author Joelle Steele in her book “Face to Face: Analysis and Comparison of Facial Features to Authenticate Identities of People in Photographs”, ears are nearly as unique to each person as fingerprints. So when comparing faces in photographs, if the ears do not match, then there can be no doubt that you’re looking at different people. The comparison can stop there. And in this case, it doesn’t take an expert like Joelle to realize that the ears do not match. Let’s take a closer look.
First, the Special Agent from Sandy Hook, cropped from the very first photo and coupled with extreme close-up of his right ear:
Now let’s add David Wheeler’s right ear – cropped from this photo – for the sake of comparison:
The pictures speak for themselves; these ears clearly differ in a number of significant ways that should be immediately obvious to everyone. These differences are most noticeable in the lobe and antihelix (see this diagram for an explanation of ear anatomy). David Wheeler has a much smaller lobe that sticks closer to the head while William Aldenberg’s is larger, substantially more round, and extends away from the head. William Aldenberg’s antihelix has a softer curve and is more c-shaped while David Wheeler’s is almost triangular, like a backwards “l”. It is not the same ear, therefore it is not the same person. It’s impossible, and no mentally sound individual could argue otherwise.
So there is simply no way that it’s David Wheeler. But is it the same Special Agent William B. Aldenberg that we saw on the “Early Show”? Are his ears a match? Of course if you’ve been paying attention for any length of time, then you already know how this one is going to play out:
While we never get a clear view of William Aldenberg’s right ear in his “Early Show” interview and are therefore forced to use the left for comparison, the similarities – again particularly in the lobe and antihelix – are striking. These ears do not belong to the same person. And while these differences are conclusive, that’s not even the end of the physical evidence.
The noses and mouths of these two men, which are not obscured in our exemplar photographs, are quite different in ways that cannot be explained away by lighting or angles. And as seen in his “Early Show” interview, William Aldenberg has a crease or scar between his chin and his lower lip, on the right side of his mouth. We can see this same mark in the photos of Special Agent Aldenberg at Sandy Hook:
He also has two distinctive moles on the left side of his face:
David Wheeler, on the other hand, has a mole on the right side of his face that is nowhere to be found on any photo of William Aldenberg:
Both men also have very different nasolabial folds, also known as smile or laugh lines. These lines are very short on the agent seen at Sandy Hook, matching those seen on William Aldenberg:
The smile lines on David Wheeler extend all the way down to his lips:
Also, in case you haven’t noticed by now, William Aldenberg is bald. We can see this in the “name tag” photo (look at the area between his helmet and his strap), his “Early Show” interview, and in the following video still, taken from the Wall Street Journal and showing Aldenberg and another agent gearing up in the parking lot of the Newtown Senior Center:
David Wheeler, of course, is not bald.
And while not as scientific as the previous points (due to issues with perspective, etc), it also appears as if David Wheeler is quite a bit shorter than William Aldenberg. For reference, here’s a photo of David and his wife Francine with Oprah Winfrey:
Oprah Winfrey’s height is listed as 5’7″, and David Wheeler does not appear to be all that much taller than her. Here’s another photo showing that Mr. Wheeler is not all that much taller than his wife:
But Special Agent Aldenberg appears to be fairly tall, or at least of above average height. Here he is towering over”Early Show” reporter Bianca Solorzano:
Granted it is entirely possible – though I would argue unlikely – that Bianca Solorzano is an incredibly tiny person, thus giving the mere impression that William Aldenberg is much taller than he actually is. But it’s clear from pictures taken at Sandy Hook on December 14th that Special Agent Aldenberg is clearly of above average height, taller than many of his counterparts. For example, take another look at the very first photo posted in this entry. Look at his size in relation to his sniper rifle, etc; he is obviously taller than David Wheeler.
So there you have it. This man is Special Agent William B. Aldenberg of the FBI, and positively not David Wheeler. As much as I would love to believe otherwise, this will not be the last see of this particular zombie myth. While some Sandy Hook deniers are simply naive, most of them are very seriously mentally ill. And some of these folks have managed to spin these delusions into a lucrative side business by creating videos, writing books, and fundraising, ad infinitum. So they are extremely unlikely to ever abandon this nonsense, but what I have presented you with are the facts and they are indisputable. That’s why most of their counterarguments boil down to “well, I still think that this guy looks like David Wheeler, therefore he is David Wheeler”. Or “I don’t think he’s holding his gun correctly!” Etc. In their attempt to make sense of what happened on December 14th, 2012, they’re grasping at straws, but they continue to come up empty.
Update: On May 23rd, 2018, Special Agent William Aldenberg joined thirteen other plaintiffs in filing a defamation lawsuit against Alex Jones, InfoWars, Wolfgang Halbig, Cory Sklanka, and five others for their roles in perpetuating this nonsense. You can read the text of the lawsuit here. Here are the portions relevant to this entry and Mr. Aldenberg:
28. Plantiff William Aldenberg was a first responder to Sandy Hook Elemetary School on December 14th, 2012, and was depicted in iconic photographs and video footage from those events. He has been antagonized by some of the defendants and their followers, who claim that he is a crisis actor. He resides in Worcester County, Massachusetts.
D. It also published images, texts, and video asserting that plaintiffs Williams Aldenberg and David Wheeler are in fact the same person, who is a crisis actor.
72. Halbig has also published Facebook posts containing images and texts asserting that plaintiffs William Aldenberg and David Wheeler are in fact the same person, and that person is a crisis actor. His Facebook page continues to display those publications.
In addition to my previous points, this surely presents a dilemma for those who still desperately hold onto the belief that either A) William Aldenberg never responded to the shooting and his identity was stolen by David Wheeler (who is also a plaintiff in this case), or B) William Aldenberg doesn’t exist and is simply a character played by David Wheeler . If either were the case (and of course they’re not), how in the world do you explain William’s involvement as a plaintiff? And alongside Wheeler, nonetheless.