30 years later: Augusta-area murder victim’s brother looks back
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - 30 years ago, a random killing turned strangers into enemies. As time went on, the pair became friends.
Today, they stand as a lesson that time heals all.
On June 7, 1992, 35-year-old Sammy Wheeler, of Staunton, was murdered. He was shot six times inside his car parked inside George Washington National Forest.
“He was so good to me. He was the white sheep of the family. We’re identical twins, but he graduated from Virginia Tech, he bought mom a house in Florida and a house back here,” said his twin brother, Danny Wheeler.
Sammy was planning a wedding with his fiancée Pat. Pat’s ex-husband, Bob Bean, became a person of interest in the case.
“I was in the middle of the woods with my National Guard unit on my two-week summer camp,” said Bean.
Investigators decided Bean’s alibi was airtight, but that wasn’t enough to convince Wheeler.
“I just wouldn’t buy that. I was sure it was Bob or one of his family members,” Wheeler recalls.
As investigators talked with Bean, Danny and Sammy’s fiancée, they ran out of leads, and the case stalled. The television show “Unsolved Mysteries” picked up the story, and that led to what Bean called “divine intervention.”
“When the episode came on featuring Danny and I and the murder, he said, ‘hell I know who did that.’ My friend perked up immediately and said, ‘well who did it?’ Kirk told him. He said, ‘well, it was Guy and I.’”
A witness told police Guy Jackson Price was the man responsible for Sammy’s murder. It was as investigators had suggested: a random killing.
“When it all came down a week later, they arrested him,” Wheeler said.
All that was left to do was to reflect on the last several years.
“So many people have helped me out, and I don’t know if they’ll ever know how grateful I am and how rich my life has been since then. Time does heal, and my life has been so good,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said when his brother was murdered, he acted out. He said his parents, older brother, investigators and reporters stood by him. It didn’t take long for Bean to become a confidante, too.
“I never really held it against Danny. As a matter of fact, I tried to help him,” Bean said.
The two remain living reminders of the power of friendship and forgiveness.
“He was forgiving, and thank God he was, and he’s been good as gold to me for the 23 years since then,” Wheeler said.
Price was convicted of Wheeler’s murder in 1999, and sentenced to life in prison. He was released in 2020, according to parole records.
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