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The Unsolved Murder of Ivan Wheeler

The Unsolved Murder of Ivan Wheeler

Dear loyal readers: A quick note before you read this case that occurred years ago in my current hometown, London, Ontario. This is a short article because Ivan’s murder receives little to no attention, and as a result there just isn’t much information out there. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean the case should be ignored. In fact, perhaps it deserves more of our time and attention than the more popular cases that already receive plenty of coverage. As always, thanks for reading, spreading the word, and helping to shine a light on unsolved cases.

 

Case File Overview

 

On Friday, February 18th, 1977, in London, Ontario, 27-year-old Ivan Wheeler was murdered while on shift driving his cab.

At approximately 5:15 am, a police officer was patrolling the area of Cheapside Street at Highbury Avenue. When the officer pulled up to cab #457 of the U-Need-A-Cab cab company in the parking lot of 1345 Cheapside Street, he made a grim discovery. Ivan was dead inside the car.

Location of Ivan’s cab

Image of where Ivan Wheeler was murdered
Image source: Google Maps

An autopsy later revealed that Ivan had been killed execution-style by a gunshot to the back of the head.

The authorities think that Ivan left Thamesville, Ontario around 10:00 pm on February 17th and might have picked up a passenger somewhere along Highway 401 on his way back to London, Ontario. The police noted that the fare owing on the meter was $6.05.

Fare owing at the time of Ivan’s murder

Photo of Ivan Wheeler murder fare owing
Image source: London Police Service

Ivan’s murder has never been solved.

 

Case File Theories

 

Murdered by a passenger

It’s difficult to formulate detailed theories in this case because, as I mentioned above, there is very little to go on. It seems probable the perpetrator was sitting in the backseat of the cab at the time of the murder given that Ivan was shot in the back of the head. Maybe Ivan never even saw it coming. This senseless crime likely took place during a robbery attempt, but the police have never released if anything was missing from the cab, such as cash Ivan collected from other passengers during his shift or his float. A passenger also could have killed Ivan because they panicked when they couldn’t pay the amount they owed for their trip. However, $6.05 in 1977 is only equal to about $22.89 in today’s dollars, making this unlikely.

Murdered by someone he knew

If Ivan wasn’t murdered by a passenger, he could have been killed by someone he knew. Perhaps he had enemies, and someone wanted him dead. There is no information available as to motive in this case, so it’s really hard to say. However, I do think that the right answer is typically the obvious, simplest one. Therefore, it’s much more plausible that Ivan was murdered by a passenger during a robbery.

Ivan Wheeler

Photo of murder victim Ivan Wheeler
Image source: London Police Service

Who do you think murdered Ivan?

Ivan, his loved ones, and the London community deserve answers in this cold case. If you have any leads, please contact London Police Service at 519-661-5670.

Related reading

Ivan Wheeler – London Police Service case file overview

Interested in unsolved murders that occurred in London? Check out the murder of Lisa Leckie and the slaying of Anthony Manning.

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8 Comments

  1. Todd Todd

    Sounds to me like a murder due to robbery! It’s bizarre to me that somebody would murder for as little as this perp probably got… this paticular murder seems to me so cold that it won’t be solved… maybe just maybe this will garner some attention that may break the case! Another interesting article’

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Todd. That’s what I suspect as well. I sure hope this post creates some interest in this case. I’m shocked by how little coverage it has ever received. I’m guessing because the victim is a male, and maybe not high in the socio-economic hierarchy. And because he was killed for a “boring” reason like robbery. Anyways, thanks for reading and your kind words!

  2. Marlene Marlene

    It looks like a robbery to me. Based on the meter, the police could have used another taxi to back track from the location where Ivan and his cab were found. This would give, at least, four possible locations of where the perpetrator was picked up.
    Thanks for taking the time to write the blogg. I look forward to reading each case.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Marlene. Thanks for reading and your kind words! Yes, I agree that it’s most likely robbery. I sure hope the police worked hard to retrace possible routes, but given the lack of coverage I’m not sure. This case makes me appreciate the cameras we now have in cabs. Might seem invasive at first, but I feel they help protect both the cab drivers and passengers. Have a great day.

  3. Gracie Gracie

    I highly doubt that it was someone who knew Mr. Wheeler because of the simple fact that the perpetrator sat in the back seat of the cab. If I knew who was driving the cab, I would sit in the front. It seems that the intent was to kill Mr. Wheeler, not just rob him, hence sitting in the back seat behind him. He was one his way back to London when he picked up the fare, so I believe it was random. I wonder when his last communication to dispatch was. Anyhow, what a senseless act of brutality on an unsuspecting victim. Would love to see this cold case solved, but chances are bleak unless someone who knows something speaks up.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Gracie. Very true! If it was Wheeler’s friend, it would make more sense for the person to sit upfront. I also agree that it was likely random. It breaks my heart to think that someone would kill another human being over what little money could be stolen from a cab driver, but I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised. Here’s hoping one day this case can be solved!

  4. Bill Bill

    A couple of questions are obvious.

    The first is whether there was any sign of robbery. If the cash from his other fares was missing, then the motive was likely robbery. Someone decided to grab a little cash and hailed a cab. He picked the person up and headed towards wherever the person said. At some point, the robber put a gun to his head, told him to stop, and shot him. The robber then grabbed the money and left.

    The second question is what the ballistic evidence showed. If the killer used a .22 LR caliber pistol, the bullet may not have had good striations from the rifling. These bullets are rarely jacketed in a true sense. Sometimes, they are coated with copper, but that coating isn’t as robust as a real jacket. These small, soft bullets distort easily, so matching the bullet to a gun might be difficult. If the killer used another caliber gun, then the bullet is more likely to have remained intact enough that the police lab could measure striations and eventually match the bullet to a gun. Of course, if the gun were so powerful that the bullet went through the victim’s head, through the windshield, and was lost in the city, then this evidence wouldn’t be available. However, your description of the scene sounds as if the windshield was intact and that there wasn’t even much if any blood on the inside of the windshield.

    In 1977, matching a random bullet to other bullets used in other crimes wasn’t easy. No one could go through every crime file just looking for a random match. As we’ve computerized and automated the process, finding those matches has become easier. If the ballistics evidence from that period has been computerized by now, maybe they have been able to look for other crimes where bullet striations suggest the same gun was used.

    If the motive wasn’t robbery, then the explanations are more complicated. If someone had a grudge against the victim, he/she could have adopted a disguise, hailed the cab, and committed the murder. Another possibility is that a random killing was a gang initiation for someone. I guess a random serial killer could also have done the killing.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Bill. Yes, this case is a tough one given the little amount of information out there. The police never released if any money was stolen. I think it is most likely a robbery, but it is hard to know for sure. As you mention, ballistics could be a good route to go down if the system has been computerized. But if investigators have found something, it has not been enough to make an arrest. Because we know so little about this case, options abound, which makes it difficult to come any conclusions, as you point out. Thanks again for reading!

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