Guy Sileo kills business partner Jim Webb over debts
In the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, 31 Jim webb was a rising star in the culinary world.
After proving himself as a chef in other people’s kitchens, Webb, who was married with two children, and his business partner, Guy Sileo, 33, took over the 297-year-old General Wayne Inn restaurant, in June 1995.
It was a risky and expensive business venture, but business at the historic inn was booming. Then, about 18 months later, tragedy struck.
On the morning of December 27, 1996, Webb was found by restaurant staff on the floor of his third-floor office. At first glance, it looked like he had fallen and hit his head, investigators said “In icy blood” a show hosted by Ice-T on Oxygen.
Detectives discovered that Webb had been shot in the back of the neck. “We were looking for a homicide, not an accident,” John Stillwagon, a retired detective with the Lower Merion Township Police Department, told producers.
“The only people in the world who knew Jim had been shot were the various detectives in the room and the person who shot him,” he said. Information about the shooting was kept secret.
Police dealt with the scene and found a .25 caliber shell casing. They ruled out the possibility of a theft gone bad by the presence of valuables.
Investigators interviewed Sileo, who was married but had a romantic relationship with a restaurant cook, Felicia. Authorities determined they were the last people to see Webb alive on the night of December 26.
Webb had planned to join them at a nearby establishment for a drink, but never arrived. Between Felicia and the bar staff, Sileo had a alibi for his comings and goings by the time Webb died.
When detectives questioned Webb’s wife Robin, she told them they were financially out of steam. Despite being busy, the old restaurant was a money pit that required expensive and constant repairs.
Robin told investigators that Webb’s life insurance policy was designed to pay off Small Business Administration loans, so she wouldn’t benefit. Detectives were “fairly confident”, they said, that Robin was not involved in the murder.
But investigators later learned that Sileo had a $ 650,000 life insurance policy on Webb – and vice versa. They had taken the policies to protect the company.
“Business partners do it all the time,” Oscar Palmer Vance, Jr., retired chief detective with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, told producers.
Investigators delved into Webb’s life, including his failed business partnership with Sileo. While investigating the restaurant’s finances, they learned that they had taken out a loan of $ 1.2 million to buy the restaurant.
Sileo also owed his father $ 100,000.
âGuy and Jim’s relationship had deteriorated to the point that we were looking to get out of the restaurant,â Webb’s wife told the producers.
Detectives’ suspicions about Sileo escalated when Robin Webb revealed he asked her, “Who would shoot Jim? Investigators felt the only way he would have known Webb had been shot was if he pulled the trigger.
They delved into Sileo’s alibi and determined that he might have had time to shoot Webb and get to the bar before Felicia.
Armed with a search warrant, authorities recovered several firearms from Sileo’s home, including a .25 caliber Phoenix Arms handgun, and a holster. But after a battery of tests, this weapon did not match the one that killed Webb.
In April 1997, a new lead changed the focus of the investigation. A former restaurant worker, Jeremy, told authorities Sileo bragged about having a rare and “untraceable” .25 caliber Beretta semi-automatic pistol that once belonged to his grandfather.The fact that Sileo did not report owning this weapon meant that he lied to authorities when asked to report all of his firearms.
Jeremy agreed to carry a wire for the authorities. He said the Sileo police knew about the Beretta. They believed he had it and that he was the killer.
âThe guy said to him, ‘You don’t have to worry about this gun. I’ve had get rid of.’ Then Guy said, “Don’t tell the police what I just told you,” an investigator told the producers.
As the investigation continued, Sileo filed for bankruptcy and the General Wayne Inn was sold. Webb’s $ 650,000 insurance payment covered restaurant bills. Sileo got nothing.
In February 1998, investigators hit a brick wall. An undercover officer got a job at the restaurant where Sileo worked in the hopes of secretly gaining his trust and uncovering information.
At the same time, investigators examined the gun case that had been found in Sileo’s house to see if the prints inside could be used as evidence. An FBI marking expert discovered that the holster bore marks that could be compatible with a Beretta.
In May 1998, Sileo was taken to the grand jury, where he denied owning the Beretta. He was charged with perjury and sentenced to one to three years.
Sileo was then charged with the murder of Webb in October. 25, 2000. The trial began in July 2001. Prosecutors knew the lack of a murder weapon was a major obstacle.
“I left with the motive of the insurance proceeds to avoid being deprived,” Bruce L. Castor, Jr., former Montgomery County district attorney, told producers.
The trial lasted two weeks and the jury deliberated for seven hours before returning on August 1 with a guilty verdict.
To learn more about the case and others like it, watch “In icy blood” and stream episodes here.