Is the man seen in the center of the following photograph, taken at the scene of the Sandy Hook School shooting on December 14th, 2012, actually David Wheeler, father of six-year-old victim Benjamin Wheeler, playing the role of an FBI Agent?
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Despite having many of his identifying features — such as his eyes, chin, jawline, forehead, and hair — obscured by his helmet and sunglasses, it has been claimed that this man is not a real FBI Agent, but Sandy Hook parent David Wheeler (seen below with his wife, Francine) “acting”:
While many of them have since been purged from the platform, this claim was at one point the subject of countless YouTube videos with titles such as “Sandy Hook ‘Dad’ CAUGHT Playing FBI (NEWTOWN HOAX Proof)”, as seen in the screenshot below:
There does not seem to be a general consensus among adherents as to why someone like Mr. Wheeler would want or need to “play” another person, particularly one who features so prominently in a number of high-quality photographs and videos from the day’s events.
So is this man David Wheeler? No; he is a real FBI Agent by the name of William B. Aldenberg. Here’s how we know:
Toward the end of this video from Getty Images, snippets of which have been used in videos promoting this particular claim, we can see this agent’s last name — ALDENBERG — printed on a patch located on the back of his uniform (below, left). Note that the agent number (NH-24) printed below this name matches the one shown on the front of the vest in the original photo (below, right), confirming that this is the same person:
The rear patch, displaying his last name and agent number, can be seen a bit more clearly in the following photo:
By searching this list of 300 people honored by the Connecticut State Police for their help in the shooting’s aftermath for the name “Aldenberg”, I was able to find a single entry, listed 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
Special Agent William Aldenberg’s presence that day is 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:
Special Agent William (Bill) Aldenberg is a fifteen plus year veteran of the force who has been involved in a number of high-profile investigations involving everything from drug trafficking to public corruption:
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 Special 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:
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, but now appears to be gone. Thankfully I was able to capture a number of stills from the interview before it disappeared, giving an almost entirely (save for the glasses) unobstructed view of Mr. Aldenberg’s facial features:
Now that we know what William Aldenberg of the New Haven division of the FBI looks like — or at least what he looked like five years before the shooting — we can compare him to the agent from Sandy Hook.
For starters, we’ll take a cropped version of a single frame taken from Special Agent Aldenberg’s “Early Show” interview and place it side-by-side with a cropped photo of the agent from Sandy Hook. The latter is significant because the perspective of the head is extremely similar:
Even with the unfortunate quality, it’s clear that this is a match.
With that said, as useful as these stills from Special Agent Aldenberg’s “Early Show” appearance are, their age and quality certainly make them less-than-ideal. After all, men’s faces can age quite a bit in five years. Thankfully, there’s more…
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 his 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 that’s already been covered, make it abundantly clear that FBI Special Agent William Aldenberg and the agent seen at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 12th, 2012 are one and the same.
But even though we’re able to prove who he is, is it also possible to prove who he isn’t? That is to say: can we prove that this isn’t David Wheeler?
While it may sound a bit strange, ears are nearly as unique to each person as fingerprints. So unique in fact that it’s been argued they could make for better unique IDs than fingerprints. So when comparing faces in photographs or videos, etc., 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 the case of David Wheeler and the agent from Sandy Hook, the ears do not match. Let’s take a closer look…
First, here is the original photo — which we now know is of Special Agent William Aldenberg — tightly cropped and coupled with an extreme close-up of his right ear:
Now let’s add David Wheeler’s right ear (far right, cropped from this photo):
These photos show that the 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 the agent from Sandy Hook’s is larger, substantially rounder, and extends away from the head (this is not due to any helmet strap, as has been suggested). Additionally, the agent from Sandy Hook’s antihelix has a much softer curve and is more C-shaped while David Wheeler’s is straight, forming a near L-shape with the antitragus. It is demonstrably not the same ear, therefore it is impossible that this is the same person.
Based on the ears alone, there is no way that this is David Wheeler. But what about Special Agent William Aldenberg? Are his ears a match?
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 as such we 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, the agent from Sandy Hook’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 the agent from 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 large and distinctive mole on the right side of his face that is nowhere to be found on any photo of the agent from Sandy Hook:
Both men also have very different nasolabial folds, also known as smile or laugh lines. These lines are very short on the agent from Sandy Hook, matching those seen on William Aldenberg:
But David Wheeler’s nasolabial folds extend all the way down to his lips:
Finally, in case you haven’t noticed, the agent from Sandy Hook is bald. About as bald as one can be. This can be seen in the “name tag” photos from 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 him gearing up in the parking lot of the Newtown Senior Center alongside another unidentified agent:
This is further corroborated by the following photo sequence showing this agent putting on his helmet as he heads up Dickinson Drive toward the school (click an image to enlarge it):
As well as this photo of him standing alongside an unidentified female agent, again on Dickinson Drive:
From his 2007 “Early Show” appearance to the Ironman Lake Placid triathlon in 2012, William Aldenberg demonstrably exhibits the same exact type of male pattern baldness as the agent seen in these photos while David Wheeler does 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 claim. 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.
- Additional photos and video show that the patch on this agent’s vest reads “ALDENBERG”.
- The only “Aldenberg” reported to have responded to the shooting is Special Agent William Aldenberg of the New Hampshire FBI.
- Special Agent William Aldenberg is a fifteen plus year veteran of the FBI.
- Special Agent William Aldenberg’s facial features match those of the agent from Sandy Hook while David Wheeler’s do not.
- Special Agent William Aldenberg has sued a number of prominent conspiracy theorists (including Alex Jones) for claiming that he is a “crisis actor”.