‘True Detective’: Who Killed William Wheeler? Murder-Suicide Explained

True Detective Who Killed William Wheeler Murder Suicide

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One of the prominent themes of ‘True Detective’ Season 4 was the animosity between Navarro and Liz Danvers and while the mystery was intriguing it was overshadowed by the larger mystery connected to Tsalal men and the murder of Annie Kowtok. Peter asked Liz why she hated Navarro in Episode 3 and she gave him kind of an open-ended answer and we learned that it was because of the last case they worked together – the murder-suicide of William Wheeler. This proved to be one crucial detail in Episode 5, so let’s explain, what happened when Navarro and Liz came to the scene.

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Navarro most likely killed William Wheeler because she proved on several instances to be unable to control herself when she sees a man abusing a woman.
  • Liz covered for her and this ruined their professional and personal relationship.
  • Peter was too intrigued by this last case he had to look into it and discovered that it was impossible for Wheeler to kill himself due to being left-handed. This led to Hank finding out about it and ultimately, Conelly who used it to blackmail Liz into dropping the cases.

Navarro and Liz started hating each other after the Wheeler case

In Episode 3 of ‘True Detective,’ Peter asks Liz why she hates Navarro so much because the animosity between the two is obvious. Liz at first gave him the vague answer of how she hated everyone including him but Peter continued to pry and asked what happened on the last case they worked on together, the murder-suicide of William Wheeler. Liz explained how William Wheeler abused his 18-year-old girlfriend at the time and they went to their house on 10 separate occasions she was badly injured more often than not and refused to press charges against William.

william wheeler

One day, Liz and Navarro were called to the scene but they were too late, William killed his girlfriend and then proceeded to shoot himself. Liz explained that Navarro couldn’t handle the guilt, believing that they should have done something more. Following this, Liz asked for Navarro to be transferred to State Troopers. Peter took this seriously, but it seems that he decided to dig a bit deeper into the case itself, something that we will find out about much later.


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William Wheeler is now being used against both Navarro and Liz

We almost forgot about Wheeler and this bizarre case until Conelly used it against Liz to drop the investigation into Silver Sky Mine and their connection to the crime scene where Annie Kowtok was apparently killed. It was enough for Conelly to say “I know about the Wheeler” which made Liz stay frozen in her tracks. What was even more surprising is that Navarro was willing to drop the case as well. Liz explained to her that Conelly knew about the Wheeler and this was enough to cool her off a bit. Whatever they did, it was massive and it might land them in prison.

How did Conelly find out about Wheeler in the first place?

Liz is not a dumb woman, she figured out pretty quickly how Conelly could possibly find out the info such as this since he was nowhere near the crime scene when the murder-suicide took place. Liz called Peter into her office since he was the last person who probed into the case and he was seemingly aware that something in this case went so wrong that Navarro and Liz could no longer work together. Peter and Liz figured out that Hank must’ve known Peter’s laptop password as he was using his son’s birthday and he probably checked out his investigation of the case.

Peter discovered that William Wheeler was left-handed and he couldn’t possibly kill himself considering that the injury was on the right side arm of his face. He also discovered that all digital photos of William’s girlfriend were mirrored, if they weren’t the injuries would show that William was left-handed. Hank also discovered this and went to Conelly with it, possibly in the hopes of getting Liz thrown in jail. He had a lot to gain from Liz being out of the picture since he was aiming to be the chief of police before Liz was transferred to Ennis.

William WHeeler murder suicide case

What Hank didn’t know at the time however is that Conelly would keep this a secret as well, since he had to find something to blackmail Liz with in order for her to drop the Tsalal case and Annie Kowtok case. In any case, Hank lost, he lost his bargaining chip against Liz because Conelly doesn’t care about who actually killed Wheeler, the only thing he cares about is that Liz leaves the mine alone.


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Peter asked Liz directly who killed William Wheeler and Liz didn’t answer, she told him he was smart but not smart enough to know when to stop asking questions. This wasn’t confirmed or anything but knowing Navarro’s impulsive nature, it’s most likely that she killed him in a fit of anger and Liz decided to cover for her. Navarro has a history of being unable to restrain herself when she is in the company of men who attack women. It also explains why Navarro was willing to drop Annie’s case due to Wheeler. I’m certain that if Liz was behind the murder Navarro would be willing to throw her to the wolves to continue pursuing the case.

However, there’s still the mystery of what happened to Holden and Liz’s former romantic partner (Leah’s father), it’s also possible that Wheeler was in some way responsible for their deaths and that this is a way for Liz to get her vengeance.

Whoever is responsible, will likely get our answer in the last episode. Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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