Thomas Webb may very well have known that a grand jury was about to begin the process of putting him behind bars for a long time for allegedly raping a young girl. So, he left Keizer and headed for St. Helens on the Columbia River where he had access to a sailboat. Authorities say he loaded it up with lots of food and water and set sail down the Columbia toward the open sea.
But a Keizer Police detective was on to him. Officer Ben Howden drove up to Vancouver in an effort to catch up with him. There he learned that Webb had departed not long before and was steering a 27-foot sailboat west on the river.
Officer Howden asked Oregon State Police to check for Webb, and his sailboat, west of St. Helens. The bulletin went out over local police frequencies and was picked up by two Oregon Fish and Wildlife Troopers who were already on the river at St. Helens. They headed out to look for the boat with Webb at the wheel.
It didn’t take them long to spot the craft. They pulled along side, identified Webb, and soon had him in handcuffs and sitting down in the back of their boat. The Troopers said his boat appeared to have been equipped for a very long voyage. Instead, Webb got a very short trip to a nearby jail, pending his return to Keizer to face rape and sex abuse charges.