Couple allegedly involved in fake death scheme waives their preliminary hearings

RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Rodney and Julie Wheeler, the couple who was allegedly involved in a scheme to fake the death of Julie by staging a fall from the Grandview overlook, were scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday. 

Both of them waived their right to a preliminary hearing.

Both have been charged with numerous felony and misdemeanors in relation to their false report and the resources used on a multi-day search for Julie. 

“They had a right to a preliminary hearing which would have required the prosecution to show probable cause way less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you need at trial and as most defendants do, they gave up their right or waived a preliminary hearing,” Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller said.  “That is the same result as if the magistrate found probably cause, so when that finding of probable cause or waiver occurs then the case comes back to me, and then it is set on the docket for the next grand jury.” 

Although they have been indicted for conspiracy to obstruct justice at the federal level, they have not yet been indicted at the county level as that is scheduled to happen in September. 

Julie Wheeler is also currently in federal prison serving on a federal healthcare fraud conviction which is believed to be the reason she attempted to fake her own death.  

Keller says even though she is in federal prison and has been indicted on more federal charges, Keller is working closely with U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart to arrange for her to go through legal proceedings at both the federal and county level. 

“So Mr. Stuart, in addition to the four years she’s serving, recently indicted them both for federal obstruction of justice, so they’ll be two tracks,” she said. 

Rodney Wheeler is currently out on a $100,000 bond on home incarceration. Julie is in prison.


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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.