Donald Eugene Webb (born Donald Eugene Perkins on July 14, 1931; died in 1999) was an American career criminal and fugitive wanted for attempted burglary and the murder of police chief Gregory Adams in the small community of Saxonburg, Pennsylvania on December 4, 1980. It was the first murder in the town's history. Webb became a wanted fugitive and was never arrested. In July 2017, his body was discovered in Massachusetts and it was determined that he had died in 1999.
Donald Eugene Perkins was born in Oklahoma City in 1931. He was raised by his grandfather. Perkins enlisted in the United States Navy but received a dishonorable discharge. Perkins legally changed his name to Webb in Bristol County, Massachusetts in 1956. Webb has worked as a butcher, salesman, restaurant manager and vending machine repairman. Before 1979, Webb had spent extended periods in the Southwest, New England, and on the West Coast. After Webb's disappearance, his relatives and criminal associates have consistently refused to cooperate with investigators. In 1981, Webb's wife Lillian lived in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Lillian Webb was a saleswoman for a now-defunct New Bedford box company. In 1999, it was reported that Lillian, her son and other relatives of Donald Webb were living in the Boston area.
Webb has convictions of burglary, possession of counterfeit money, possession of a weapon and dangerous instruments, breaking and entering, armed bank robbery, grand larceny and car theft. In the mid-1970s, Webb served a two-year prison term in New York state prison. The FBI has considered Webb "a master of assumed identities". New York and Pennsylvania police have described Webb as "an itinerant burglar well versed in the art of criminal impersonation". Webb has been identified by the FBI as an associate of the Patriarca crime family who made a living robbing banks, jewelry stores and high-end hotels up and down the east coast, fencing the ill-gotten gains through the mob in Providence. He was also involved with an organized crime outfit in the Miami area, where he would also fence his ill-gotten gains.
In 1979, Webb and his two accomplices allegedly burglarized suburban Albany homes while posing as sewer and water inspectors. Webb and one of the accomplices, Frank Joseph Lach were arrested in Colonie, New York. They were charged for attempted burglary, but after their bails were posted, (bail of Webb was $35,000) they failed to appear at a December 1979 court date. Police believe that after his disappearance, Webb lived in motels using assumed identities and confidence tricks to support himself financially. Frank Joseph Lach (born November 23, 1940) was closely associated with Webb. Lach is originally from Cranston, Rhode Island and was believed to be involved with a Massachusetts-based gang responsible for a number of jewel thefts from residences and businesses in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as having ties to organized crime in New England and South Florida. Although the last known connection of Webb and Lach was in Allentown, Pennsylvania in July 1980, Lach was believed to be with Webb when Adams was killed in December 1980.
Lach was subsequently wanted by the FBI for interstate flight from justice and captured in South Miami, Florida in May 1982. He was extradited to New York, where he was convicted of burglary and bail-jumping. He was paroled in November 1985. He was convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to transport stolen property interstate in February 1986, and of driving under the influence and parole violation in June 1996. Lach served time in federal prison and was released in October 2000. Gregory B. Adams, a 31-year-old police chief and nine-year veteran of law enforcement, made a routine traffic stop in the parking lot of Agway Feed Store on Butler Street in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania at about 2:50 p.m. or 3:10 p.m. on December 4, 1980. Adams used his patrol car to stop the suspect by blocking the exit of the parking lot. When he asked the suspect for his driver's license, the suspect gave fraudulent identity documents and shot Adams. He returned fire, but the shots were not fatal. The man believed to be Donald Eugene Webb got out of the car and fought with him. Adams was disarmed and pistol-whipped with his own revolver, being struck several times causing deep wounds to his face and head.
Witnesses heard fired shots; four "pop" noises, presumably from a semiautomatic .25-caliber Colt pistol and a "boom" from Adams' revolver. He was shot once in the arm and once in the chest at close range. By another account, Adams was shot twice in the chest, one bullet collapsing a lung and another ripping the bottom of his heart. Adams was not wearing his bulletproof vest at the time as he had lent it to another officer. The killer took Adams' gun, ran to his patrol car, ripped out its microphone and took the keys before driving away in his own car. A nearby resident found the mortally wounded Adams, who told her that he did not know his attacker and that he thought he was not going to live. Adams was so badly beaten he was almost unrecognizable. Adams lost consciousness on the way to the hospital and died of his injuries. Adams was survived by his wife Mary Ann Adams (later Mary Ann Jones), and their two sons, Benjamin and Gregory, Jr. Adams is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Herman, Pennsylvania. A .25-caliber Colt pistol, O-type blood (Webb's blood type) and a New Jersey driver's license bearing an alias used by Webb, Stanley John Portas, a name of Webb's wife's deceased husband, were among the evidence found at the murder scene. Portas had been deceased since 1948. Webb is believed to have been in Saxonburg for a planned burglary of a jewelry store. Adams' revolver was later found approximately 7 miles (11 km) away along Cornplanter Road in Winfield, Pennsylvania. All six bullets of the weapon had been fired.
A white Mercury Cougar, which Webb had rented, was allegedly used as a getaway car. It was found abandoned at Howard Johnson's motel in Warwick, Rhode Island two weeks later on December 21. Significant amounts of O-type blood were found under a steering wheel, indicating that Webb was shot in the leg, possibly by Adams. As Webb was named as a main suspect of the case, a nationwide manhunt began. He was charged in absentia with murder, attempted burglary and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Federal arrest warrant was issued for him on December 31. On May 4, 1981, Webb was named as the 375th fugitive to be placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. Webb had strong ties to Fall River and New Bedford, where the last confirmed sighting of him was made by an anonymous tipster in July 1981. The sighting was reported to the Boston FBI office, but Webb had apparently fled by the time investigators arrived. Since then, there were unconfirmed sightings of Webb or men resembling him in Massachusetts, Washington, Canada and Costa Rica.
In January 1990, FBI director William S. Sessions received a letter postmarked on January 23 and written by someone claiming to be Webb, asking for forgiveness from Adams' family. The letter contained indications of a possible surrender to authorities, but only if he could talk directly and alone to John Walsh, host of the TV show America's Most Wanted. Walsh stated in America's Most Wanted that FBI's evidence technicians examined the letter and believed it was authentic. Handwriting tests were conducted, and the results were inconclusive. On April 1, 1990, a man claiming to be Webb did make a direct phone call to John Walsh, but was unable to name two of Webb's closest relatives. The call was dismissed as an April Fools' joke. The murder case was also featured in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. After more than 18 years on the list, Webb became the fugitive with the longest tenure on the FBI Ten Most Wanted list on September 14, 1999, surpassing previous record held by Charles Lee Herron. In April 2005, an unidentified man in Detroit was found using Webb's name, age and social security number. Detroit police trailed the address to a burned-out house in a poor section of town. Authorities considered this a case of identity theft, although a very unusual one.
Having been on the Ten Most Wanted list for 25 years, 10 months, and 27 days, Webb's name was removed from the list on March 31, 2007, replaced by that of Shauntay Henderson. He was on the list longer than any other fugitive before Víctor Manuel Gerena, who surpassed his record in 2010. Although Webb was still considered a fugitive considered armed and dangerous by the FBI, significant lack of leads made some investigators believe Webb was deceased. On December 4, 2015, the FBI increased their reward to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of Webb, or the whereabouts of his remains. Key investigators, including the FBI special agent assigned to tracking Webb down, believed he was still alive. On June 1, 2017, the wife of slain police chief Adams, Mary Ann Jones, filed a lawsuit against Donald Eugene Webb, his wife Lillian Webb, and son Stanley Webb, a year after FBI investigators told her they had discovered a secret room hidden behind a closet in Lillian Webb’s home in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The room had not existed when Lillian purchased the home. Agents also discovered a cane inside the room, which they believed could have been used by Webb after being shot in the leg by Adams. On June 15, 2017, the FBI released newly acquired photographs of Webb taken in the 1970s, in the hopes of enlisting the public's assistance in either capturing Webb or locating his remains. On July 14, 2017, remains found at the Dartmouth home of Webb's wife were identified as belonging to Webb. Investigators stated that Webb had died in 1999.