Donald Eugene Webb

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Donald Eugene Webb
Photograph taken in 1979
Photograph taken in 1979
FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
Charges Unlawful flight to avoid prosecution - Murder;
Attempted burglary
Alias Donald Eugene Perkins
Description
Born Donald Eugene Perkins
(1931-07-14)July 14, 1931 (Possibly age 83)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Nationality American
Occupation butcher, salesman, restaurant manager, vending machine repairman
Spouse Lillian Webb
Status
Convictions burglary, possession of counterfeit money, possession of a weapon and dangerous instruments, breaking and entering, armed bank robbery, grand larceny and car theft
Added May 4, 1981
Removed March 31, 2007
Number 375
Removed From Top Ten Fugitive List

Donald Eugene Webb (born Donald Eugene Perkins on July 14, 1931, possibly deceased) is (or 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.[1] It was the first murder in the town's history.[2]

Background and family[edit]

Donald Eugene Perkins was born in Oklahoma City in 1931. He was raised by his grandfather.[3] Perkins enlisted in the United States Navy but received a dishonorable discharge.[4] Perkins legally changed his name to Webb in Bristol County, Massachusetts in 1956.[5]

Webb has worked as a butcher, salesman, restaurant manager and vending machine repairman.[6]

Before 1979, Webb had spent extended periods in the Southwest, New England, and on the West Coast.[5] After Webb's disappearance, his relatives and criminal associates have consistently refused to cooperate with investigators.[6]

In 1981, Webb's wife Lillian lived in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts.[5] Lillian Webb was a saleswoman for a now-defunct New Bedford box company.[4][dead link] In 1999, it was reported that Lillian, her son and other relatives of Donald Webb were living in the Boston area.[7]

Criminal career[edit]

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.[5][8] In the mid-1970s, Webb served a two-year prison term in New York state prison.[9] The FBI has considered Webb "a master of assumed identities".[5] New York and Pennsylvania police have described Webb as "an itinerant burglar well versed in the art of criminal impersonation".[10] Webb has been believed to be involved in Fall River gang but no clear link has been established between Webb and organized crime.[5]

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.[5] 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.[9]

Police believe that after his disappearance, Webb lived in motels using assumed identities and confidence tricks to support himself financially.[8]

Frank Lach[edit]

Frank Joseph Lach (born November 23, 1940) was closely associated with Webb. Lach is originally from Cranston, Rhode Island[5] and was believed to be involved with a Massachusetts-based gang responsible for a number of jewel thefts from residences and businesses in 1960s and 1970s, as well as having ties to organized crime in New England and South Florida.[11]

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.[5][12]

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.[12] He was paroled in November 1985.[13] He was convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to transport stolen property interstate in February 1986,[14] and of driving under the influence and parole violation in June 1996.[11] Lach served time in federal prison and was released in October 2000.[15]

Murder of Gregory Adams[edit]

Gregory Adams

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[8] on Butler Street[16] in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania at about 2:50 p.m.[6] or 3:10 p.m. on December 4, 1980.[5][12] 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, he gave fraudulent identity documents and shot Adams. He returned fire, but the shots were not fatal.[17]

The man believed to be Donald Eugene Webb got out of the car and fought with him.[6] Adams was disarmed and pistol-whipped with his own revolver,[10] being struck several times causing deep wounds to his face and head.[6]

Witnesses heard fired shots; four "pop" noises, presumably from a semiautomatic .25-caliber Colt pistol.[5] and a "boom" from Adams' revolver.[6] He was shot once in the arm and once in the chest at close range.[10] By another account, Adams was shot twice in the chest,[17] one bullet collapsing a lung and another ripping the bottom of his heart.[4][dead link] Adams was not wearing his bulletproof vest at the time as he had lent it to another officer.[17] 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.[6]

A nearby resident found mortally wounded Adams, who told her that he did not know his attacker and that he thought he was not going to live.[6] Adams was so badly beaten he was almost unrecognizable.[18] Adams lost consciousness on the way to the hospital and died of his injuries.[6] Adams was survived by his wife Mary Ann Jones[17] (formerly Adams), and their two sons, Benjamin and Gregory, Jr.[1] Adams is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Herman, Pennsylvania.[17]

Investigation[edit]

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.[1][6][8][9] Webb has been believed to been in Saxonburg for a planned burglary of a jewelry store.[19] Adams' revolver was later found approximately seven miles away along Cornplanter Road in Winfield, Pennsylvania. All six bullets of the weapon had been fired.[4][dead link]

A white Mercury Cougar which Webb rented, was allegedly used as a getaway car.[4][dead link] It was subsequently found abandoned at Howard Johnson's motel in Warwick, Rhode Island on December 21.[10] Significant amounts of O-type blood were found under a steering wheel, indicating that Webb was shot in the leg, possibly by Adams.[6][7]

As Webb was named as a main suspect of the case, a nationwide manhunt began.[8] He was charged 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.[18]

Age-enhanced photograph released by FBI in 1996.

Webb has strong ties to Fall River and New Bedford,[5] where the last confirmed sighting of him was made by an anonymous tipster in July 1981.[1] He was reported to the Boston FBI office, but had fled by the time investigators arrived.[1] Since then, there have been unconfirmed sightings of Webb or men resembling him in Massachusetts, Washington, Canada and Costa Rica.[4][dead link]

In January 1990, FBI director William S. Sessions received a letter postmarked on January 23.[16] It was written by someone claiming to be Webb, asking for forgiveness from Adams' family. The letter contained indications of a possible surrender to authorities,[19] but only if he could talk directly and alone to John Walsh, host of TV show America's Most Wanted.[3] Walsh stated in America's Most Wanted that FBI's evidence technicians examined the letter and believed it was authentic.[19] Handwriting tests were conducted, and the results were inconclusive.[16] 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.[3] The murder case was also featured in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.[19]

After over 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.[7]

In April 2005, an unidentified man in Detroit was 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 consider this a case of identity theft, although a very unusual one.[4][dead link]

Having been on the Ten Most Wanted list for 25 years, 10 months, and 27 days, Webb was removed from the list on March 31, 2007, replaced by Shauntay Henderson.[20] He was on the list longer than any other fugitive before Víctor Manuel Gerena, who surpassed his record in 2010. Although Webb is still a fugitive who is considered armed and dangerous by the FBI, significant lack of leads has made some investigators believe Webb is deceased.[6][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Roberts, Jerry (December 3, 1981). "Year later, police-slaying suspect still free". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  2. ^ Roberts, Jerry (September 25, 1999). "Fugitive stays on most wanted list a record 18 years". CNN. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Bartley, Diane (April 1, 1990). "John Walsh: fighting back." (Fee required). The Saturday Evening Post. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Biedka, Chuck (December 4, 2005). "A frustrating search". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 11, 2010. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Roberts, Jerry (June 10, 1981). "Saxonburg police chief slay suspect still a mystery man". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 11, 2010. [dead link]
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Scripps, Howard (December 25, 1996). "Gray fox of fugitives slaying, theft suspect". Toledo Blade. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d Fuoco, Michael A. (September 14, 1999). "Fugitive sets record on FBI's 10 Most Wanted list". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Roberts, Jerry (July 30, 1981). "Chief's slayer eluding police". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c Kennedy, Matthew (December 24, 1980). "Cop-Slaying Figure 'Career Criminal'". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c d Wade, Chet (January 20, 1981). "New data on man charged in killing chief". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b "Jewish federations celebrating successes" (Fee required). Miami Herald. June 18, 1996. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  12. ^ a b c Roberts, Jerry (December 2, 1982). "2 years later, Saxonburg waits for justice". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Inmate Population Information Search". New York State Department of Correctional Services. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Getaway car driver convicted in beating" (Fee required). Miami Herald. February 28, 1986. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Inmate Locator". Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c Fuoco, Michael A. (February 10, 1990). "Police cautious of word from 'killer'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 11, 2010. [dead link]
  17. ^ a b c d e "Chief of Police Gregory B. Adams". The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  18. ^ a b Maskaly, Michelle (October 27, 2008). "WANTED: Donald Eugene Webb for the Murder of a Pennsylvania Police Chief". Fox News. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  19. ^ a b c d Baird, Robert (February 9, 1990). "Letter stirs hope of surrender by suspect in Saxonburg police killing". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  20. ^ Romero, Frances (March 12, 2010). "Top 10 Notorious Fugitives". Time Magazine. Retrieved 15 March 2010. 

External links[edit]