November 3, 2011

What Happened to Ada Jane Groomes?



The Story Behind an Obituary

     When I read obituaries I often wonder if the sometimes flowery words written on the page really express the essence of the recently deceased.

     Sometimes I know. Behind one person’s 1998 obituary were surviving remnants of her dysfunctional family.

     A recent obituary hid much more than it revealed.

(He) passed away…at home surrounded by his loving familyFond memories of Don will be remembered by his family… four children…21 grandchildren…*

     One of these four children is my good friend and former neighbor. His relationship with his father is so broken that he has no desire to visit the funeral home or attend the funeral.

In addition to his parents, Don was preceded in death by infant twin sons…*

     Don was also preceded in death by his first wife, the mother of his four children.


     Reading the above excerpts leads the reader to conclude that Don, 78, was patriarch of a close-knit family. Why, then, the omission of his deceased first wife’s name? Why was there such a broken relationship not only with the son, who is our family friend, but other of his children also? Who were the “loving family” members who surrounded him when he passed away? What were the “fond memories” that his family will remember?

    The story is much deeper than the obituary revealed.



     On October 7, 1988, after thirty-four years of marriage , Ada Jane Groomes  and Donald Groomes had been separated for more than two years. Claiming her husband was physically abusive, Ada obtained protection from abuse orders in two states, Pennsylvania and Maryland.* She also had a business lawsuit against Donald.***

     That October 7th morning she drove to work at Groomes Transit Company, which she and Donald co-owned near Scottdale, Pennsylvania. After asking a mechanic to inspect her vehicle, some type of argument erupted. It was ten thirty a. m.

     The vehicle inspected, and was driven away.

     Donald, then 54, told the authorities that he last saw Ada Jane between eleven a. m. and noon that morning.

     Meanwhile, Ada Jane told one of her daughters that she would be gone for several days. She was planning on spending several days with her mother in Butler County, Pennsylvania.

     Her last known moments included a trip to Greensburg to pick up a $20,000 check that the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit owed Groomes transit. However, she discovered her husband had been there earlier and collected the money.***

     Ada’s vehicle was found later, parked on a side street near her home.

     A thirty-foot long motor home, owned by the couple, was discovered missing around the same time Ada Jane, 54, disappeared. Donald told police that he believed his wife drove the mobile home west and joined a cult.*

     Family members became suspicious of foul play when Ada Jane’s mother called them reporting that her daughter had not yet arrived in Saxonburg.

     Evidence at Ada Jane’s home included recently purchased groceries and personal items, indicative the unlikelihood that she had left without telling anyone. ***

     On December 1, 1988, police upgraded Ada Groome’s case from a missing person to a murder investigation. Circumstantial evidence pointed to foul play, in spite of the fact that they lacked sufficient  physical evidence (including a body). Investigators were eyeing several suspects.

     The motor home was recovered in Tampa, Florida in 1989.* It was stored on a property in Tampa since a Mr. Neckerauer brought it there between December 1988 and March 1989. Mr. Neckernauer told police that it had been given to him by Donald just prior to when Ada Jane disappeared, and he was aware of its location since that time.**

          Seven years later her family remained frustrated by her disappearance and the lack of information available.

     They were considering having a memorial service, if for no other reason than to remind people of what happened.  They also needed an opportunity to grieve, even though they didn’t know whether she was dead or alive.

     Eight years after her disappearance, Ada Jane was declared dead.

     In 1981 Ada Jane set up an annuity that came to be worth $185,000. In 1986, shortly after she and Donald separated, she completed a will listing only her four children as its heirs. Later, Donald attempted to gain complete control over the annuity. However, in 2004 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that it was to be split between him and the Groomes’ four children. ****

     Sixteen years after Ada Jane’s disappearance, Donald had already assumed control of more than one million dollars in family assets as a result of her death.

     Through the years the Pennsylvania State Police have followed up on the case. During these investigations, Donald proved to be uncooperative. Some efforts included a consultation with a psychic and a $10,000 reward.***


     State police still list Ada Jane’s case as unsolved. Her body has never been recovered. At one time Donald was considered a primary suspect in his first wife’s disappearance.****

     State police won’t close the books on the unsolved disappearance and presumed murder of a Westmoreland County (PA) woman 23 years ago, even thought the chief suspect—her former husband—died on Saturday (October 31, 2011)…perhaps something from the past can now come forth. Who knows what might happen at this point?*****

     This is the untold story behind the obituary that stated Donald passed away…at home surrounded by his loving familyFond memories of Don will be remembered by his family… four children…21 grandchildren…In addition to his parents, Don was preceded in death by infant twin sons…*

     Ada Jane, the mother of Donald’s four children, was not mentioned in his obituary.

     One has to wonder why.






*****Ex-husband’s death won’t close case, Paul Peirce, Greensburg Tribune-Review, November 1, 2011, pp B1






THE CORPSE FLOWER (Amorphophallus titanum)—A WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING-Is in Bloom




  1. I am the wife of one of the grandchildren. I was at the funeral.

    Comment by holly — November 2, 2011 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

  2. What is this?!? a man dies and the only thing you do is bring up what doesnt have to do with anything!!! He was surrounden by is loving family, yes: the ones that stuck by him, that realy loved him. Those family members that had a broken relationship with him, was by their choice, their mistakes..
    He was a hero to many, and a lot more to his grandchildren. He took care of us and loved us. Aint because my cousins, aunts and onlces arent family by blood that they arent our family. My grandfather was a great man; hardworker, generous,caring,.. He helped so many in need without expecting a thing in return. He cared for his family, all of them blood or not!
    If you ask me, this article has nothing to do with the life of Donald A. Groomes. Should be writting about how greatly a man furfilled his life…

    Comment by Granddaugther that couldn't ask for a better Pap — November 4, 2011 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  3. Sounds to me like some family members have had a hard time coming to terms with the facts. I pray one day,those who refuse to acknowledge the truth,will see the light. I hope physical proof will one day surface so Ada an rest in peace,and those that were brainwashed by Donald can finally accept what they’ve known deep down all along,but tried to suppress. One day,the truth will be known. If not in this Iife,then perhaps another.

    Comment by Anonymoussleuther — October 4, 2012 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  4. I know this is an old post as its now 2015 – but I felt compelled to write something. I KNEW Jane Groomes – she and her son Tom were in my Dale Carnegie class back in 1980’s. I remember her coming to class at one night and she was crying. We asked her what was wrong and she said she found out her husband was cheating on her. I felt so bad for her – then I heard she went missing and was never found. Not accusing anyone – but if you look for motive – I guess that tells you alot. RIP Jane – you and your son Tom were such nice people and deserved better.

    Comment by Christine Donovan — July 22, 2015 @ 11:34 am | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment (I corrected your typo). It is an interesting case, and recently has been (and maybe still is) being investigated as a cold case. I hope they find a resolution for Tom’s sake.

      Comment by carolyncholland — July 22, 2015 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

    • It’s never too late to comment on an older post. Thank you for doing so.
      I’ve had to move to a new site as I was running out of space on Carolyn’s Compositions. The new site is

      Comment by carolyncholland — September 1, 2015 @ 2:30 am | Reply

  5. Meant to say – its NOW 2015.

    Comment by Christine Donovan — July 22, 2015 @ 11:34 am | Reply

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