By Kwegyirba Croffie
MASSACHUSETTS — The FBI announced Friday that remains of one of agency’s most-wanted fugitives have been located after a 37-year search.
The remains of Donald Eugene Webb were found buried in the back of a property in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The office of the chief medical examiner in Massachusetts positively identified the remains as Webb’s.
Investigators learned Webb died approximately 17 years ago in 1999, according to the FBI. The agency did not say how Webb died.
Webb was wanted related to the 1980 murder of Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, Police Chief Gregory Adams who was shot twice at close range after being brutally beaten with a blunt instrument, the FBI said.
According to a release from the FBI, on New Year’s Eve 1980, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Webb after he was charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and charged in Pennsylvania with first-degree murder for the death of Chief Adams.
“For almost 37 years, the family of Chief Adams and the citizens of Saxonburg have been awaiting news of Donald Eugene Webb’s whereabouts. The FBI is grateful to have been able to play a role in helping to resolve this case. 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.
Current Saxonburg Police Chief Joseph Beachem added, “The biggest question in the history of Saxonburg has been answered. Our thoughts are with the family, and we hope this eases their minds, if even only slightly. While the hurt will continue, at least doubt about what happened that day has been eliminated.”
“Webb was a jewel thief … there was a jewelry store in Saxonburg, and that is probably what he was casing,” said FBI Special Agent Lawrence Likar told CNN in 1999.
Ten years after Adams’ murder, officials followed thousands of leads, including potential sightings in Canada and Mexico of Webb, a member of a New England crime gang.
“Webb liked fast women,” added Likar. “He liked strippers, exotic dancers. He was a mob guy, basically, kind of on the fringes.”
Webb was added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list ion May 4, 1981, and was removed on March 31, 2007. According to the FBI he was the only fugitive in the United States wanted for the murder of a police chief.
“This answers a real big open question,” Saxonburg Mayor William Gillespie told CNN. “It provides closure to the agents who have worked this case over the years, some who have since retired. This weekend is the 185th anniversary of Saxonburg so we have a lot to celebrate.”