DA: Wife of fugitive Webb not immune from federal prosecution

Lillian and Donald Eugene Webb. Source: FBI

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) – Pennsylvania authorities say the woman who helped her fugitive husband hide for nearly two decades was granted immunity from state prosecution in exchange for information, but the deal did not include protecting her from any potential federal charges.

Richard Goldinger, district attorney in Butler County, Pennsylvania, said at a news conference the authorities there gave Lillian Webb “immunity from nothing, because we couldn’t charge her with anything.”

Lillian Webb was married to Donald Eugene Webb, a New England mob associate who authorities say shot and killed Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, Police Chief Gregory Adams during a routine traffic stop in December 1980.

“Anything that she did in harboring Donald Webb occurred in Massachusetts,” Goldinger said. “In exchange for that immunity, she was willing to tell us where Donald Webb was.”

Christina Diorio-Sterling, a spokesperson for U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts, said in an email she would not be able to comment on whether prosecutors were pursuing a case against Lillian Webb. She also declined to comment when asked if the case was closed.

Lillian Webb’s attorney, Jack Cicilline, could not be reached on Friday and has not returned previous calls for comment.

An attorney for Chief Adams’ widow told Target 12 last week that Webb was granted immunity from prosecution by the district attorney in Bristol County, Massachusetts, as well.

At the news conference, Pennsylvania authorities also provided more details on the deadly traffic stop that resulted in Adams’ murder.

“What we didn’t realize until this investigation really unfolded in the last few weeks is the hero that Chief Adams actually was,” Goldinger said. “He really fought for his life that day.”

Authorities found the car Webb was driving abandoned in a hotel parking lot in Warwick weeks after the murder. A large amount of blood was discovered in the carpeting of the car, leading authorities to believe that Webb may have been shot. Now investigators think Adams may have severely shattered Webb’s leg and torn the assailant’s lip.

“Donald Webb, because of this, lived in seclusion for the rest of his life in permanent pain, with permanent disfigurement,” Goldinger said. “So, if there was any justice in 37 years, Chief Adams actually delivered the justice himself.”

Webb “pretty much lived like a dog cowering in a basement, as a coward, the rest of his life,” Pennsylvania State Police Corporal Chris Birckbichler told KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh.

As Target 12 previously reported, search warrants reveal Webb checked into Toby Hospital in Wareham under an assumed name and was treated for four weeks as soon as he returned from Pennsylvania. His wife has told investigators Webb then lived in their New Bedford home, utilizing a secret room in the basement, until the family relocated to another house on Maplecrest Drive in North Dartmouth in 1997.

The court documents state the Webbs built another secret room in the basement of that home, “about the size of a shower stall,” where FBI Special Agent Thomas MacDonald discovered a cane in 2016. The revelation breathed new life into the cold case, and eventually resulted in investigators digging up Webb’s remains in the backyard of the North Dartmouth house last week.

Lillian Webb told investigators her husband suffered two strokes in the late 1990s; the second was fatal. The FBI said he died in 1999. She told authorities she used a large Tupperware container to drag her husband’s body to a hole she had dug in the backyard.

In the court documents, detectives said Lillian Webb claimed her husband instructed her to dig the hole after he suffered his first stroke, because “he was dying.”

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook