Fugitive who stayed in Scranton still sought by FBI 36 years later

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In the months before Donald Eugene Webb is accused of gunning down a police officer more than 36 years ago, he stayed in motels in eastern Pennsylvania.

The career criminal included Scranton among his stops.

On Thursday, the FBI released newly acquired photographs of Webb as it asked for the public’s assistance in locating the longtime fugitive, who is still being sought for the 1980 murder of Police Chief Gregory Adams of Saxonburg, a small borough in Butler County north of Pittsburgh.

“We’re asking the public to take a close look at these photographs … and contact us if they have any information about Mr. Webb’s whereabouts,” Harold H. Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division, said in a statement.

In distributing the previously unseen photos, most snapped during a cruise Webb and his wife took in 1979, federal investigators targeted areas Webb was familiar with and frequented.

Through all of 1980 until the time of the Adams killing, Webb was known to reside in motels in the Scranton, Allentown, Jim Thorpe, Easton and Williamsport areas, said Ned Conway, an FBI spokesman in Philadelphia. He would register under the alias Stanley Portas.

“Stanley Portas was in fact his wife’s first husband’s name,” Conway said. “Stanley Portas died of natural causes in 1956.”

Webb, who was known to specialize in jewelry store burglaries, is believed to have been in Saxonburg to case a possible burglary target when Adams pulled him over during a routine traffic stop on Dec. 4, 1980. Investigators say Webb beat and shot the police chief, who is believed to have wounded his killer during their confrontation.

Webb’s white Mercury Cougar getaway vehicle was recovered 17 days later in a Howard Johnson’s parking lot in Warwick, Rhode Island, suggesting the suspect returned to New England after the murder. Webb’s wife and stepson lived in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Police in Butler County charged Webb with first-degree murder in the Adams slaying, and a federal arrest warrant charging him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution was filed Dec. 31, 1980.

On May 4, 1981, the FBI added Webb to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, where he would remain until March 31, 2007. He is one of the longest-tenured fugitives to ever appear on the list.

Although the fugitive would be 85 years old now, the FBI “cannot make the assumption Webb is deceased without verification,” Shaw said.

“We’re in the final stages of this investigation and, given Mr. Webb’s age, we’re doing everything we can to bring some closure to Chief Adams’ family and the citizens of Saxonburg,” he said.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to Webb’s arrest or, if he has died, the location of his remains. Anyone with information may contact the agency at 800-225-5324.

Contact the writer:

dsingleton@timesshamrock.com;

570-348-9132

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