Human remains found buried in a yard in Massachusetts on Thursday have been identified as those of fugitive Donald Eugene Webb, bringing to a close a decades long search for the suspected cop killer.
The FBI and state police in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania discovered remains Thursday at the home of Webb's ex-wife in North Dartmouth.
The state medical examiner positively identified the remains on Friday, according to the FBI. Investigators said they believe Webb died approximately 17 years ago. The cause of death has not been determined.
Police said Webb shot Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, police Chief Greg Adams during a traffic stop back in 1980.
Webb, then 49, was a jewelry thief from Massachusetts with connections to the New England mob. Police believe he was in Saxonburg, outside Pittsburgh, to case a jewelry store he planned to rob when Adams stopped his car.
He disappeared after the shooting, and his rental car was found more than two weeks later at a motel in Warwick, Rhode Island.
“For almost 37 years, the family of Chief Adams, and the citizens of Saxonburg have been awaiting news of Donald Eugene Webb’s whereabouts," said Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division. "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."
"The biggest question in the history of Saxonburg has been answered," Saxonburg Police Chief Joseph Beachem added. "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 one of the longest-tenured fugitives ever to appear on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list, and there had been a $100,000 reward for information leading to his capture. He was the only fugitive in the U.S. wanted for the murder of a police chief.
Police were led to Webb's body Thursday by his ex-wife, Lillian, who showed them where he was buried in her back yard. Prosecutors in both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that authorities have agreed not to prosecute Lillian Webb in the investigation.
The police chief's widow, Mary Ann Jones, said she is livid that Lillian Webb kept her ex-husband's whereabouts hidden for years, as Jones and her two sons struggled with their loss and the thought that the killer was still at large.
"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," Jones said. "Why hide him? Why not allow us closure?"
Adams was 31 when he was killed, leaving his wife to raise two young sons. She eventually remarried.
Lillian Webb did not come to the door when NBC Boston knocked on it Friday.
Lillian Johnson, who knows her, said she was shocked to learn about the investigation.
“I feel sorry for her. She’s a lovely person. That’s all,” Johnson said. She said it had been a long time since she had spoken to her.