New Owners Find Gun, Ammo in the Walls of Home Once Occupied by Killer

John Lindenberg was convicted of killing his boss and once lived in the Wayland house where the items were discovered.

A dilapidated home with an infamous former dweller hid quite the surprise for new homeowners who are remodeling the house.

Wayland police received a call on Aug. 14 about an object discovered behind a wall during renovations at 24 Old Connecticut Path. Det. Sgt. Jamie Berger said police responded and found an old military ammunition box hanging from a wire behind a wall. The box contained a .357 Smith and Wesson handgun as well as some ammunition and gun oil.

Berger said that the gun is registered to John G. Lindenberg, the former occupant, who was convicted in June 1991 of murdering his boss the year before.

Lindenberg, then a state aquatics biologist, was charged with the Feb. 15, 1990, shooting death of his supervisor, Peter H. Oatis, according to an Associated Press article in the June 21, 1991 edition of The Sunday Gazette (Schenectady, N.Y.)

The article states that Lindenberg claimed he fired the shots in self-defense, but the prosecution claimed he went to work that day at the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in Westborough with the intent to kill Oatis. In the end, a jury at Worcester Superior Court did not agree the act was premeditated, but did convict Lindenberg of second-degree murder. He received the mandatory sentence of life in prison, but was to be eligible for parole after 15 years.

No further information about Lindenberg's case was immediately available.

Berger said the gun found in the Wayland home is not the weapon used to murder Oatis. Still, he turned the gun over to Worcester County detectives, where Lindenberg was prosecuted two decades ago, for ballistics testing.

Wayland Police Chief Bob Irving said it is fairly common for new homeowners to find firearms or ammo left behind in houses or for children to discover something when cleaning out their parents' home. Finding guns sealed behind walls is quite a bit more unusual.

Earlier this month, a Saugus homeowner called police to report finding five firearms in the ceiling of his basement, according to Fox 25 News. That home was once owned by convicted mobster Anthony D'Agostino.

The new owners could not be reached for comment, but public records show that Jonathan and Ann-Marie Sevigny purchased 24 Old Connecticut Path, built in 1890, from the Florence G. Lindenberg Trust on June 29, 2012. The previous sale of the property occurred in 1955.

Marty Luttrell August 24, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I remember John Lindenberg's case. There had been an ongoing dispute between the men.The morning of the shooting, Mr. Oatis was found mortally wounded in a staircase, and it was unknown as to who shot him. As fate would have it, three kids in a stolen car got stuck on the side of the road nearby as the police broadcast went out. A passerby told police about these suspicious-looking kids trying to get their car going, and officers descended on them. The young men, not knowing the cops were looking for a murderer, took off on foot into a swamp, where they refused to come out, even when surrounded by state and local police with their guns drawn. One kid was holding a black Mace cannister and advancing toward some officers and he ended up getting shot in the leg. Meanwhile, coworkers of Lindenberg and Oatis told investigators of ongoing bad blood between them, and under questioning, Lindenberg admitted he shot Oatis. His handgun was found hidden in some bushes outside.
Brooklyn Lowery August 24, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Marty, great memory! That's a lot of detail for a 22-year-old case. In doing a bit of research for this article, I also turned up a partial article that was supposedly in the Boston Globe (it wasn't on the Globe website, so I can't say with certainty). It said Lindenberg tried to "aid and comfort" Oatis after shooting him. Here's that link: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-8160980.html. Just a little additional info that wasn't relevant to the current Patch article, but could be interesting reading.
Marty Luttrell August 24, 2012 at 06:49 PM
I wrote about this case when I was a reporter at the Middlesex News. It was truly a sad story. I had spoken with Peter Oatis a number of times in doing wildlife and environmental stories, and he was always great to talk with. I didn't know Mr. Lindenberg, (who was deaf) but he was considered a top-notch biologist and highly regarded. Peter was on crutches that day, having broken his foot while playing hockey.


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