Published October 27, 2008
Dec. 4, 1980, moved along like any other day for Police Chief Gregory Adams. He was on patrol in Saxonburg, Pa., a small town 20 miles outside Pittsburgh, when he pulled over a car with out-of-state plates on a routine traffic stop.
The gunbattle that followed not only killed the 34-year-old Adams; it left a daunting mark on the middle-American town forever. And it gave his accused killer, Donald Eugene Webb, the distinction of being on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List longer than any other person -- so long, in fact, he's been removed on the thought he must be dead.
“I can’t tell you if the sun was shining that day, but I remember hearing it and remember what the community people were like — they were all shocked,” said Saxonburg Police Officer Curt Suprano, who was a high school sophomore at the time.
Suprano is one of two full-time police officers who, along with five part-timers, patrol this town of about 1,600.
“When we are on traffic stops, they are always watching us,” the 17-year department veteran said. “They will look out their window and watch. Some will even come out and ask, ‘Is everything OK?’ They did not forget.”
Former police chief Gordon Mainhart — one of the first to respond that day — still gets choked up when he talks about the 28-year-old murder that left Adams' two sons, Greg and Ben, without a father. Greg was 8-months old, and Ben was 2, when their dad died.
“I got there, observed the police car and someone yelled they found Greg,” said Mainhart, who was the lone police officer serving under Adams at the time. “He was shot. I went directly to the police car, radioed back-up and notified 911 communications center that the chief was involved.”
Brian Antoszyk was on scene that day as an emergency medical technician and volunteer firefighter.
"I can still draw you a picture of where he was shot, what it looked like and what he looked like," said Antoszyk, who is now the mayor of Saxonburg. "It's something that doesn't keep you awake at night, but is something you never forget."
Antoszyk said Adams was so badly beaten that he was almost unrecognizable, except for his voice.
"He basically kept saying, 'This shouldn't be, this shouldn't be,' and that he didn't know who it was [that shot him]," the mayor recalled.
Mainhart was in the ambulance with Adams when he died on the way to the hospital.
“We did everything we could to try to save him,” recalls Mainhart, who became chief a month later and retired from the post in 1999.
Adams died of two bullet wounds he sustained in a brief but violent scuffle in the parking lot of an Agway supermarket with a man authorities say was Donald Eugene Webb.
Webb allegedly beat Adams about the head with a blunt instrument and fled without anyone seeing him. But he made one fatal mistake — police say he dropped a fake driver’s license that led them to conclude he was Adams' killer. He was charged with murder, attempted burglary and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and a federal arrest warrant was issued for him on Dec. 31, 1980.
Five months later, Webb, a career criminal and master of assumed identities who specializes in robbing jewelry stores, was placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. In March 2007, after 26 years on the list — the longest of any wanted person — his name was taken off.
The FBI said he doesn’t fit the criteria to be on the list anymore, and although they won't officially say, some believe that Webb could be dead.
Special Agent Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Boston office, said this doesn’t mean Webb’s case is closed.
“There’s no indication he’s resumed any type of criminal activity, and as a result may not pose a dangerous threat to the American public,” Marcinkiewicz told FOXNews.com. “What happens in a case like this is if leads come in, we are going to follow up on whatever leads do come in.”
Marcinkiewicz said one of the main goals of the Most Wanted List is to generate publicity, and in a case like this, the publicity wasn’t getting any leads.
According to the television show “America’s Most Wanted,” the last sighting of Webb was in 2006, in Spain. Marcinkiewicz couldn’t confirm the sighting, and declined to comment on when the FBI received its last lead in the case.
The FBI describes Webb, now in his late 70s, as a flashy dresser and a big tipper who loves dogs.
More than 450 fugitives have been located after appearing on the FBI's list. The FBI has no answer as to why Webb was never one of them.
“If someone stays under the radar screen, it doesn’t come to the attention of law enforcement,” explained Marcinkiewicz. “[He] may be living a low-key life. A lot of times people get caught because they do stupid things.”
Adams' wife of four years, Mary Ann Jones, who has since remarried, still has vivid memories of the day he died.
"It was horrible," she told FOXNews.com. "I was in bed with the flu and was entertaining the baby on the bed.
"He came in for lunch and picked him up and played with him. My oldest was in bed for a nap. He left, and it seems like two minutes later I got a phone call."
Jones said she doesn't like that Webb has been taken off the 10 Most Wanted list, but "there is nothing I can do about it."
"It will be 28 years this December, and I have a feeling they are not going to get him," she said. "He's going to get away with this, or ... he did get away with this."
Should Webb ever be caught, Mainhart and the people of Saxonburg, Pa., say they have some questions for him.
“Why? Why? Just give me an answer?” Mainhart said. “Nobody should go down like Greg went down. Shot twice and brutally beaten. It just doesn’t make sense. A young father of two. What happened? Why?”