Certainly any sane, rational human being would struggle to choose the single most batshit insane component of the thoroughly preposterous and downright repulsive Sandy Hook hoax theory. There are simply too many to choose from, and they’re all just so, so dumb. Here are just a couple of examples:
- It was a very real shooting, but carried out by “Mossad death squads.” This is what “Nobody Died At Sandy Hook” author James Fetzer originally wanted everyone to believe, at least until he abruptly abandoned the idea, 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. You can Google it if you don’t believe me.
For me, the profoundly stupid claim that some of the victims – or, as the story goes, some of the child actors who played them (before disappearing forever) – magically aged five years in two short 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 is another absurdity that has a lot in common with the aforementioned 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 the face of extensive and irrefutable evidence to the contrary. In fact, its continued presence has even resulted in a lawsuit, which I’ll discuss a bit later.
First, let’s start with the photo that birthed this particular goofball claim:
Despite having a good 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 David Wheeler, seen here with his wife, Francine:
Once again ignoring the Sagan standard (which is the assertion that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence), the space cadets that populate 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 disgusting and 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 dinks 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 it isn’t.
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 not-much-of-a-mystery man is one 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 Trooper Daniel Jewiss of the Connecticut State Police in a witness statement included in the State’s final report (Book 6, 00251204.pdf) on the shooting:
How do we know that 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. Here are examples which go all the way back to 2005:
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 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 that 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 a missing person by the name of William Smolinski Jr. Video of the full segment was previously available online when I had originally written this entry, but now appears to be gone. Thankfully I was able to capture a number of stills from the appearance before it disappeared, giving an almost entirely (save for the glasses) unobstructed view of Mr. Aldenberg’s facial features:
Now that we know what Special Agent Aldenberg of the New Haven division of the FBI looks like (or at least what he looked like back in 2007), we can compare him to the Agent seen at Sandy Hook.
Starting with a cropped version of a single 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 significant because the perspective of the head is very similar:
Even with the unfortunate quality – which is still light years better than most of the intentionally blurred photos propagated by deniers – it’s clear that this is a match.
With that said, as useful as stills from Special Agent Aldenberg’s “Early Show” appearance have been in debunking this nonsense, their age and condition certainly make them less-than-ideal. After all, men’s faces can age quite a bit in five years. That’s why I’ve never stopped searching for clearer, more recent material. And that’s how I found the following…
On July 22nd, 2012 – less than five months before the events at Sandy Hook – William Aldenberg participated in the Ironman Lake Placid triathlon in Lake Placid, New York. This according to the Albany Running Exchange website, which lists Special Agent Aldenberg’s results and shows him as competing in the male 40-44 division:
Using this information, I was able to locate approximately two dozen photos of Special Agent Aldenberg participating in this triathlon. Of those photos, I found the following two to be most relevant to the topic at hand:
The first photo shows him as he’s about to begin the cycling portion of the triathlon:Beyond the obvious physical similarities, the most interesting detail about this photo is that Special Agent Aldenberg appears to be wearing the same exact sunglasses/photochromic lenses that he wore at Sandy Hook:
The second photo shows Special Agent Aldenberg as he approaches the final finish line. For comparison’s sake, I’ve placed it side-by-side with a photo of him at Sandy Hook less than six months later:
These triathlon photos, on top of the wealth of evidence we’ve already covered, makes it abundantly clear that FBI Agent William Aldenberg and the FBI agent seen at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 12th, 2012 are one in the same. But of course “abundantly clear” is never good enough for deniers, and that leads us to…
How do we know that David Wheeler and Special Agent William Aldenberg are not the same person?
As we’ve seen elsewhere on this site, and as we’ve learned from anthropometrist/biometricist and 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. In fact, it’s been argued that they could make for better unique IDs than 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, a photo of the man we now know is Special Agent William Aldenberg at Sandy Hook School, cropped from the very first photo and coupled with an extreme close-up of his right ear:
Now let’s compare it to David Wheeler’s right ear (far right, cropped from this photo):
The photos speak for themselves. These ears clearly differ in a number of significant ways that should be immediately obvious to anyone. 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 (this is not due to any helmet strap, as some deniers have desperately suggested). 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 demonstrably not the same ear, therefore it is impossible that this is the same person, and no mentally sound individual could in good faith argue otherwise.
So based on the ears alone, there is no way that this is David Wheeler. But does that mean that this is Special Agent William Aldenberg? 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, we do in one of the two triathlon photos, and are able to see that the similarities – again particularly in the lobe and antihelix – are striking:
These ears belong to the same person. And while these similarities are conclusive, that’s not the end of the physical evidence.
Unlike his eyes, chin, and head, Special Agent Aldenberg’s nose and mouth are not obscured in either of our exemplar photographs, and can therefore be shown to be another match. And as seen in his “Early Show” interview as well as in his triathlon photos, William Aldenberg has a distinctive crease or scar in between his chin and his lower lip, on the right side of his mouth. We can see this same mark (and glasses) in the photos of Special Agent Aldenberg at Sandy Hook:
There are also two distinctive, nearly vertical moles on the left side of his face:
As well as a mole on the right side of his nose, as seen in the left and center photos below. David Wheeler, shown on the far right, has no such mole:
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:But the smile lines on David Wheeler extend all the way down to his lips:
Finally, in case you haven’t noticed, the agent seen at Sandy Hook is bald. As bald as can be. This can be seen in the “name tag” photo from much earlier (look at the area between his helmet and his strap), but is far more obvious in the following video still, which comes from the Wall Street Journal and shows Aldenberg and another agent gearing up in the parking lot of the Newtown Senior Center:
Now you probably don’t need me to tell you that, as seen in his his “Early Show” interview as well as the photos from the triathlon, William Aldenberg is also very bald. David Wheeler of course is not.
One thing both men do have in common is that on May 23rd, 2018, they joined twelve other plaintiffs in filing a defamation lawsuit against Alex Jones, InfoWars, Wolfgang Halbig, Cory Sklanka, and five others for their roles in, among other things, perpetuating this exact 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 obviously presents a real 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.
So there you have it. This man is unquestionably Special Agent William B. Aldenberg of the FBI, and absolutely, positively not David Wheeler. And as much as I would love to believe otherwise, I know that this will not be the last see of this particular zombie myth. Because while some Sandy Hook deniers are simply naive, most of them are very seriously mentally ill. Some of them have even managed to spin these delusions into a lucrative side business by creating monetized videos, writing books, and fundraising ad infinitum, so they are extremely unlikely to ever abandon this nonsense as it has become a revenue stream for them. But what I have presented you with are the facts and they are indisputable, which is why most of their counterarguments boil down to absurdities such as “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!” Or even “the strap on his helmet – the one that doesn’t touch his ears – are actually pushing his ears in such a way that they just look exactly like William Aldenberg’s ears!” Hell, I’ve even had multiple people suggest to me that he cannot possibly be a real FBI agent because he’s wearing sunglasses (this in spite of the fact that a number of other agents wore sunglasses that day, such as those seen here, here, and here). It’s almost unbelievable, but in their attempt to make sense of what happened on December 14th, 2012, they’re desperately grasping at straws. Unfortunately for them, they continue to come up empty.