Police Chief Murdered in Saxonburg

It was a Sunday afternoon in December of 1980, in the quaint town of Saxonburg, Pennsylvania when Police Chief Gregory Adams was gunned down in broad daylight. The suspect Donald Eugene Webb was seen running a stop sign on Water Street in Saxonburg. Adams pursued the white vehicle to a supermarket, where he blockaded Webbs car and confronted him. After handing him a fake ID Webb hopped out of the car and proceeded to shoot Police Chief Adams twice in the chest. The ID Webb used was in the name of his wife's first husband, allowing police to make connections and claim him as their prime suspect. Webb proceeded to take officer Adams’ gun, the keys to his squad car, his radio, and left him bleeding in the parking lot. Police later found the gun approximately 7 miles away in Winfield, Pennsylvania. Adams was eventually found in a bush by a boy who lived across the street, and called 911. After being rushed to the hospital in critical condition, Adams died two days later.


The White Mercury Cougar Webb was driving was eventually found in Rhode Island. It is also noted Rhode Island is home to the Patriarca crime family a known associate of Donald Webb. During the 1970’s and 1980’s the United states granted a great deal of power to law enforcement to reduce the activity of organized crime. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act was passed by congress in 1970. This allowed prosecutors to go after mafia families from the inside out. The government’s stance on organized crime combined with the murder of a police officer propelled Donald Webb to the top of the FBI most wanted list in May of 1981.


Months after the murder, a suspect or a motive had still not been confirmed by authorities. This was because Donald Eugene Webb was no ordinary criminal. With multiple connections to organized crime families on the east coast, Webb was a known member of the Fall River. The gang was known for robbing banks, homes, and jewelry stores up and down the east coast. Because of this Webb an Oklahoma City native was able to hide with protection from his allies. Webb was suspected in everything from burglary, possession of counterfeit money, possession of a weapon and dangerous instruments, breaking and entering, armed bank robbery, grand larceny, and car theft, making his presence in the small town of Saxonburg unusual. After the fact, it was known that Webb and an unknown associate were casing a robbery at jewelry store in Saxonburg the day before his altercation with Gregory Adams.


In the ensuing months, Saxonburg held a funeral for their late Police Chief Gregory Adams. Hundreds of officers from around the state attended his funeral. Adams, a military veteran had served over 17 years for the Washington D.C Metro Police and the Saxonburg Police Force. Adams left behind his wife, Mary Ann and two sons. Autopsy reports of Webb’s body showed substantial injuries sustained in the 1980 fight, proving Officer Adams went down, in the words of attorney Thomas King of Butler, “fighting like a lion”.


The murder in Saxonburg produced one of the longest-running manhunts in American history. Donald Eugene Webb for a time, was the longest standing member of the FBI’s most wanted list. In a 2017 interview with authorities, Lillian Webb, the wife of Donald Eugene Webb voluntarily shed light on the story in return for full immunity for any part she played in the investigation.


She shared that Donald Webb had made it back to Massachusetts, where she took him to a hospital for treatment, and later dumped the white Mercury Cougar in Rhode Island to mislead the investigation. After his hospital stint, Webb lived out his days in hiding and eventually died of a stroke December 30th 1999. While in hiding Webb was reduced to living behind a false wall in his wife’s house. According to the the Medical Examiner’s report the injuries Webb sustained in the fight with police chief Adams never healed properly, which most likely lead to a life of pain. In a final statement in 2017, the now remarried Mary Ann Adams Jones said “I would rather know than not know, but it’s not going to bring him back.” There is now a memorial in downtown Saxonburg as well as a road renamed in honor of police chief Gregory Adams.

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