Secret room in Dartmouth home sparks lawsuit connected to 1980 murder

Jun 5, 2017

A 1980 murder of a rural Pennsylvania police chief is receiving renewed attention after the FBI discovered a hidden room in a North Dartmouth home owned by family of the man wanted in the killing.

Saxonburg, PA Police Chief Gregory Adams was shot and killed on December 4, 1980, as he was conducting a traffic stop. According to the FBI, the chief’s head and face were beaten with a blunt object and he was shot twice at close range.

Donald Eugene Webb, a career criminal with ties to this area, was identified as the suspect in the murder, according to the FBI. A federal warrant was issued for his arrest on December 31, 1980. He is charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and has been on the run ever since.

Last week, Chief Adams’ family learned of the hidden room at 28 Maplecrest Drive, which is owned by Lillian Webb, Donald’s wife at the time of the murder, said attorney Thomas King III, who is representing the family.

King said Adams’ family believes Lillian and her son, Stanley Webb, have information about Donald’s whereabouts.

“What we really seek is to get these people to the table and tell the truth,” King said. “We want to know where Webb is. The fact that there was a hidden room inside a closet, with a lock on the inside of the door, that’s what leads us to believe the family knew of [Webb’s] whereabouts.”

King filed a civil action in a Butler County, PA, court against Lillian and Stanley Webb. Donald is also named in the civil action. The move is an attempt to secure their cooperation, he said.

It is not immediately clear when the FBI first discovered the secret room or how investigators became aware of it.

A cane was recovered from a closet, according to the lawyer.

“The cane is important because it’s believed that Webb was shot in the leg,” King said.

King said the civil action has not yet been filed in Massachusetts. He expects to send one to Bristol County officials to serve next week.

Webb was one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives for a time before the case went cold and he was removed from the top 10 list, King said.

No one answered the door at 28 Maplecrest Drive when visited by a Dartmouth Week reporter.