A body discovered by Massachusetts authorities is believed to be that of Stephen “Stippo” Rakes — who was listed as a key witness in the ongoing trial of infamous Boston mobster and alleged ruthless killer James “Whitey” Bulger.
Here is what you need to know about the man and his mysterious death:
1. His Body was Found on a Path in Lincoln, Massachusetts
Police say Stephen Rakes, 59, was from Quincy in South Boston. However, according to ABC, Rakes’ body was found off a walking path on Mill Street in the Boston suburb Lincoln, Massachusetts. A satellite view of the street shows a secluded wooded area.
2. He Waited Years to Testify Against Bulger But Was Just Told He Couldn’t
— Tim White (@white_tim) July 18, 2013
Rakes, who was on the witness list of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, was told Tuesday that prosecutors did not plan to call him to testify, a decision that Steve Davis, brother of another Bulger victim, said today had devastated Rakes.
3. Police Say There Were ‘No Obvious Signs of Trauma’
4. Bulger Allegedly Stole Rakes’ Liquor Store
Rakes has been fuming for decades over an alleged incident in 1984, in which Bulger and associates Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi and Kevin Weeks allegedly extorted the store at gunpoint.
5. Another Witness Just Called Rakes’ Story Fake
Kevin Weeks, long time associate for Bulgers and an alleged aggressor in Rakes’ story, testified last week. According to ABC, he told the court that the Rakes’ accusation that the he, Fleming, and Bulger pointed guns at his daughter was, “bogus.”
Weeks did not defend Bulger however, he spent his time on the stand accusing Bulger of murder and calling him a “rat.”
6. His Family Thinks it was Murder
Stippo would not kill himself. Absolutely not. He was looking forward to taking the stand. He told me over and over he had a big bombshell to drop. He had everything to live for and was looking forward to his day in court.
7. He Previously Said Bulger was ‘Willing to Kill Anybody’
The Boston Globe reported on Rakes in 2001 quoting him as saying that Bulger, his right-hand man Flemmi, and the rest of their gang was, “willing to kill anybody.”
Since his alleged 1984 encounter with Bulger, Rakes told the Boston Globe he has been living in constant fear. At one point in 1995, Rakes even claimed he was being stalked by a Bulger associate while at work in a Boston Metro station. The Globe reports that he allegedly took off down the tracks to flee his pursuer when he was shocked by an electrified third rail.
8. Bulger’s Former Partner Testifies Today
Stephen Flemmi, 79, is one of the other villains in Rakes’ extortion story and will be testifying Friday against his long-time partner, Whitey Bulger. Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, will be seeing his former partner for the first time in almost 20 years in the Boston courtroom tomorrow and has been asked to identify Bulger as a murderer.
9. Rakes’ Brother Is in an Infamous Boston Photograph
In 1976, news photographer Stanley Forman was photographing the protests over forced school busing that epitomized the racial tension boiling over in Boston. There he took of photograph of Stephen Rakes’ brother Joseph Rakes. Joseph was charging an African-American activist with the sharp end of an American flag pointed at him. The photograph was titled, “Soiling of Old Glory,” and won a Pulitzer Prize.
10. Bulger is Charged with Playing a Role in 19 Murders
Along with the racketeering charges being pinned on Bulger, he is also being charged with being associated with 19 murders.