Sileo Charged In 1996 Slaying Of James Webb Authorities Said Guy Sileo Jr. Fatally Shot His Business Partner At The General Wayne Inn Over Money.

Posted: October 26, 2000

After an investigation that spanned nearly four years and never strayed from its focus, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office yesterday charged Guy Sileo Jr. with first-degree murder in the 1996 slaying of James Webb, his business partner at the General Wayne Inn.

Authorities portrayed Sileo, 33, of Wallingford, as a failed restaurateur and husband who had, in the months before the killing, repeatedly told a pastry chef that he might shoot someone. District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. said he was confident that it was Sileo who fired a bullet into the back of Webb's head in the office of their Lower Merion restaurant Dec. 26, 1996.

"This has always been a case that stuck in our craw as a difficult and horrendous killing," Castor said yesterday after Sileo was arraigned in Lower Merion. "We are one step closer to ending this."

Sileo's attorney, Richard Winters, maintained his client's innocence and was critical of investigators for never looking closely at anyone else. Sileo "is not responsible for Mr. Webb's death," Winters said. "I don't see a motive."

Sileo is being held without bail pending a Nov. 17 preliminary hearing on the murder charge before District Justice Henry Schireson. He already is serving a one- to three-year sentence for lying to a grand jury about the existence of a .25-caliber pistol that authorities say they believe Sileo owned and used to kill Webb.

The most critical piece of evidence against Sileo, Castor said, is a 1997 wiretapped conversation in which Sileo admits to a former coworker that he has a gun that authorities do not know about.

Castor said he waited until the state Supreme Court confirmed the constitutionality of the wiretap on July 31 before filing the murder charge.

The morning after Webb's death, before detectives had told anyone that Webb died from a nearly undetectable bullet wound, Sileo met Robin Webb in the parking lot of the restaurant and told her that her husband "was shot," according to a 25-page affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

According to the affidavit, Sileo's motive was money. With restaurant revenues falling about $500,000 shy of the $1.7 million projection for its first year and bills going unpaid, the men had been bickering for months, the affidavit says. Webb had met with a lawyer only a week before his death to discuss getting out of the business, the affidavit says.

Authorities say they believe Sileo hoped to collect on a $650,000 life-insurance policy he and Webb each had taken out on the other.

During fall 1996, the affidavit says, Sileo repeatedly told a pastry chef at the restaurant: "I really feel like I need to shoot someone."

According to the affidavit, Webb had entertained thoughts that Sileo might kill him. Several weeks before his death, Webb told a cook that if he "were ever found dead in the General Wayne Inn, the cook should go to the safe, get Jim's gun, and shoot Sileo," the affidavit says.

Several coworkers and acquaintances knew that Sileo had an old gun that Sileo said his father had given him, and that Sileo and Webb had often referred to the gun as "untraceable," the affidavit says. Investigators say they believe the gun - a .25-caliber Beretta pistol - was the murder weapon. That gun has never been recovered.

Besides the financial stress that authorities say they believe prompted Sileo to pull the trigger, he had told a bartender on the night of Webb's death that he was going to leave his wife later that night, according to the affidavit.

Sileo had been having an affair with Felicia Moyse, a sous-chef at the General Wayne, the affidavit says. Moyse, who was with Sileo the night he confided in the bartender, committed suicide in February 1997, according to the affidavit.

Yesterday, several members of Webb's family attended the arraignment, each wearing a button that said, "In Memory of Jim Webb." The button shows a black-and-white photograph of the smiling and mustached chef.

After the arraignment, Webb's mother, Theresa Webb, said she was happy to finally see Sileo, a man with whom she had once spent holidays, in shackles. "It was a good feeling," she said. "It's been a feeling we've been waiting for a long time."

Erin Carroll's e-mail address is ecarroll@phillynews.com

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