July 15–DARTMOUTH — A fugitive cop-killer on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for nearly four decades was found in his ex-wife’s Dartmouth backyard, where his body lay buried for 17 years — a mystery that’s now raising questions about how he eluded capture so long and who dug his grave.
The remains of Donald Eugene Webb — a career criminal accused of murdering a Pennsylvania police chief in 1980 — were found buried behind his ex-wife’s house. Authorities suspect he was hidden there soon after his death.
Although the cause of death has not yet been determined, it “does not appear his death was the result of a violent act,” said Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for the Bristol District Attorney’s office.
The FBI said Webb specialized in burglarizing jewelry stores and was suspected of having connections to the New England mob. He was also a big tipper, dog lover and “master of assumed identities,” the feds said.
Investigators have not said how Webb eluded them for so long or how he came to be buried in his wife’s backyard.
Police believe Webb was in Saxonburg, Pa., outside Pittsburgh, to case a jewelry store he planned to rob when local Chief Gregory Adams stopped his car. Webb is accused of beating the 31-year-old father of two young sons and shooting him dead.
Webb was one of the longest-tenured fugitives ever to appear on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list and a $100,000 reward was placed on his head.
A lawyer for the police chief’s widow said Webb’s ex-wife, Lillian, agreed to lead authorities to her husband in exchange for immunity. She won’t be able to collect the reward, officials added.
“Although it’s unfortunate Mr. Webb will never be brought to justice to pay for his crimes, we’re hopeful the family can find some closure in knowing that this alleged murderer has been located,” said Harold H. Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division.
Adams’ widow, Mary Ann Jones, said she is outraged that Lillian Webb kept her ex-husband’s whereabouts secret for years.
“I guess I’m angry at her at this point because she could do that to my family — hide him for years and then bury him so we never know,” said Jones, who eventually remarried. “Why hide him? Why not allow us closure?”
Last month, Jones’ lawyer, Thomas King III, filed a notice in court saying Jones planned to sue Lillian Webb and her adult son for civil conspiracy claims after FBI agents said Webb may have hidden out in a secret room in Lillian Webb’s home during short stints in the 1990s. A cane was found in the room, the AP reported.
A lifelong resident of this quiet suburban town of 34,000 said it was the “biggest deal” here in nearly 25 years.
“We don’t have mobsters here. My kids were even saying, ‘Ma, we went trick-or-treating at that house,’ ” the 70-year-old woman, who requested anonymity, said, adding that the discovery of Webb’s body rivaled the 1993 fatal stabbing of a 16-year-old at the old Dartmouth High School by three teenagers.
Manny Correia, who lives minutes from where Webb’s remains were found, drove by the tan house, saying he felt compelled to have a look.
“I was astonished,” Correia said. “I said this wouldn’t happen in this area.”
Another neighbor told the Herald he’s sickened by the news.
“That man, what he did,” said Joseph P. Brum, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 35 years, “my God.”
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
By Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald
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