NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Homeland Security special agent hoping to crack cold-case murder of his father

Posted at 4:46 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 18:22:42-05

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Special Agent Matthew Brooks remembers the phone call vividly.

He was on leave in North Port cutting grass when his life and his family's would change forever. That's when he learned his father, Regan Wheeler, had been killed in Paulding County, Georgia.

"I’ll never forget it. I looked at my girlfriend, now wonderful wife, and I told her, 'well, my father’s dead.' I don’t know exactly what’s happened so I’ll have to leave and go back up there. But I have to finish cutting grass first. I couldn’t leave it half done," Brooks said. "So I had to go outside, cried the whole time finished doing the job."

Investigators believe Wheeler walked in on a burglary in progress in October of 2005. When he tried to get back to his truck, he was shot in his driveway.

"For something like that to happen to somebody like him, it just doesn’t make any sense to me," said Brooks. "I hope this shows bad things don’t only happen to bad people. Bad things happen to good people and somebody out there knows something."

The Paulding County Sheriff's Office and GBI are investigating, but the case has gone cold.

"This is one of the cases we’re still working and trying to get to the bottom to," said Sgt. Ashley Henson with the sheriff's office.

He was one of the first on scene, then working as a K9 handler.

"With the technological innovations we’ve had in law enforcement with DNA and things like that, we’re able to look at different avenues and possible figure out some different ways to hopefully find the person or persons responsible for his death," Henson said.

Nearly 15 years later, they're still hopeful they'll find a key piece of information that solves the case.

"This one’s near and dear to our heart because Regan was such a good guy," said Henson.

Brooks remembered his father as a religious man who was involved in church. Brooks said his father served as a prison chaplain for those the rest of society wrote off. He said he liked to farm, taught him the value of a hard day's work and how to ride horses.

"This is him holding his horse and me," Brooks said flipping through a photo album in his Sarasota home.

He works as a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations. Each day, his father's case is in the back of his mind.

"It’s changed my life, I have to live with it every single day. Every day, my kids live with it, I live with it. It drives me at work. Very passionate about what I do and it’s probably because of that, has a lot to do with that," Brooks said.

Now, he and his family are raising money through a GoFundMe page in an effort to increase the reward on the Regan Wheeler case, in hopes someone comes forward with the answers they need.

"It’d probably be the best Christmas present we ever had because at some point I just want the phone to ring and say we got ‘em," Brooks said.

If you have any information about the case, call the sheriff's office criminal investigations unit at 770-443-3015.