True Detective: Who is William Wheeler? Why Did Navarro and Danvers Kill Him?

Image Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

Everyone is keeping a secret in HBO’s ‘True Detective: Night Country,’ and with each episode, the truth becomes a bit clearer, and what’s hidden is brought to light. Detectives Danvers and Navarro have been trying to do the same with the two murder cases at their hands, one of which is the six-year-old unsolved case of a local woman’s death. But in trying to uncover the secrets of other people and getting to the root of the story, Navarro and Danvers also risk revealing their own secrets. In the penultimate episode of the season, the truth they’d worked so hard to keep away from others finally comes to light. SPOILERS AHEAD

Navarro and Danvers Covered Up William Wheeler’s Murder Case

The last case that Navarro and Danvers worked together was William Wheeler’s murder-suicide. According to the official report, he had killed his girlfriend and then shot himself to death. Navarro and Danvers were united in the retelling of how things went down that day. Everyone knew that Wheeler was a violent man. He had been in and out of prison for several charges of assault and violence, among other things. The last time he came from prison, he started dating an 18-year-old girl.

Soon after, the girl came to the hospital with an injury that Wheeler clearly inflicted, but she claimed it was due to an accident. Her visits to the hospital got regular, but she never reported Wheeler, who in turn told the cops that his girlfriend drank too much, which is why she fell so much. Because no complaint was made and no case was filed, Navarro and Danvers couldn’t do anything but watch the girl get hurt again and again.

They knew the cycle would eventually come to an end, and it did, exactly as they’d predicted. They got a call about a disturbance at Wheeler’s place, and when they got there, they found him sitting in front of the girl’s dead body. He had killed her. The flashback reveals that Wheeler was still alive at the time. However, in the official report and in repeating the story to Prior, Danvers claims that he was already dead when they arrived. He had killed himself.

Clearly, Prior was unconvinced and looked into the Wheeler case to discover the glaring holes in the narrative. It turns out that the bullet wound on Wheeler was on the right side of his temple. This meant that he couldn’t have shot himself because he was left-handed. How did anyone miss this detail in the investigation? It turns out that someone had flipped all the photos in the record to make it look like the bruises on the girl were on the left side of her face when, in reality, they were on the right. This proved that Wheeler was left-handed, which is why the bruises on her face were on the right side of her face. Someone wanted to prove that Wheeler was right-handed, so they tampered with the pictures to make them look like the bruises were on the left.

Image Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

Prior also noticed that the case file is missing. The official reason is that it was lost in the flood, just like Hank Prior claims Annie’s file was lost in the flood, too. By now, the young officer knows that Navarro and Danvers were behind all the tampering, and they were the ones who either hid or destroyed the files. This meant that their story didn’t stand, and if they were the last ones to see Wheeler alive, one of them pulled the trigger, and then both of them tried to cover it up.

It’s clear that both detectives were in cahoots in hiding the truth, but the question remains: who shot Wheeler? Considering that Navarro was on his right side when she and Danvers entered the house and found him, it is possible that she was the one to take the shot. By far, she is also the more impulsive of the two, and it is possible that she lost her cool and decided to deliver justice to the girl on the spot. But then, we still don’t have the whole picture. What if Wheeler stood up? Then Danvers would be on his right, and she could have shot him, too. She could have been taken by surprise by his sudden movement, or we are not giving her enough credit for being angry and acting on impulse.

Maybe she was the one who killed Wheeler, which explains why Navarro would be angry with her rather than thankful to her for not ratting her out to the superiors. Whatever happened that day, Navarro and Danvers agreed upon an unspoken agreement to never talk about the case and never tell anyone (even if they have deduced the whole thing by themselves) who fired the gun. However, now that more people than necessary know about the cover-up, the detectives might have to finally come clear about it.

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