Woman Goes Off the Deep End to Hide from the Law
This is a long and sordid story that goes in some directions you probably won’t expect. Let’s start with the initial incident that ended up getting Julie Wheeler in trouble with the law.
Julie was acting as a caretaker to someone who has spina bifida when she was accused of committing fraud. She had submitted applications to the VA that contained false statements regarding the amount of time she cared for the patient. These fraudulent documents allowed her to get paid for the time that she did not work. She ended up bilking them for a substantial amount of money, but all schemes must come to an end.
She was caught and pled guilty to federal health care fraud, a serious charge that could have seen her face up to 10 years in prison, although it likely would have been much less than this. Julie would also have to pay restitution and fines that would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. As bad as all of this was, things got worse when Julie, her husband, and their teenage son, hatched a cockamamie scheme that they thought could keep her out of jail.
How Not to Get Out of Trouble
Along with her husband Rodney and her son, Julie visited Grandview State Park near New River Gorge. Her family told the authorities that she went to search for an earring and fell over the cliff. The cliff has multiple ledges and drops right down towards the river. Both her husband and son said that Julie had fallen over the cliff.
Naturally, this prompted a large search effort. Hundreds of people volunteered to look for her in addition to law enforcement and search and rescue. They even brought in helicopters, repelling experts, and rescue dogs in an attempt to find Julie, or at least her body. However, they had no luck. They couldn’t find anything. There was no evidence that she had gone over the cliff, but her husband insisted that is exactly what had happened.
Of course, he was lying. They had conspired to fake Julie’s death, so she wouldn’t have to face trial and go to prison. Still, the search went on for several days because the authorities didn’t realize that the death was faked quite yet.
Oh, There She Is!
On June 2, though, a couple of days into the search, the authorities went to her home with a warrant that allowed them to look for electronics, including phones. What they found hiding in the downstairs closet, though was Julie. Both she and her husband were taken into custody.
It appears that she was going to hide in the home for a while until all of the hubbub around the search died down and was then going to disappear with her husband. All of this came crashing down, though, and she ended up facing a lot more charges and more time in jail.
What Happens Now?
What happened to Wheeler? Now, she is going to get a longer sentence. She will now spend 54 months in federal prison. Not only this, but her husband also faced charges because he reported her missing, even though he knew the truth and was hiding her at home.
Rodney, her faithful husband, received a felony and eight months of confinement for his role in this plot. He was allowed to serve two months in federal prison and then six months of confinement at home. He will also be under three years of supervised release.
Because of the son’s age, it’s unlikely that he’ll be in trouble for the scheme his parents hatched and he helped facilitate.