Whitey Bulger, the notorious and colorful Boston mobster whose life was captured on the big screen, has died in a federal prison and – according to TMZ – the death was gruesome and brutal.
Bulger’s sudden death has a lot of people wondering about the Winter Hill gang mob boss’s cause of death and, specifically, whether he was murdered. The answer is that the federal Bureau of Prisons, in its initial statement, only said that Bulger was found “unresponsive” and didn’t specify a specific cause of death. The mobster was 89-years-old. However, TMZ is reporting through a prison source that Bulger’s death is being considered a homicide and that it was a gruesome one in which there was an attempt to gouge out his eyes and to beat him with a lock encased in a sock. Authorities have not confirmed those details.
However, CNN and the Boston Globe are also reporting that Bulger was “killed.” The Boston Globe referred to the death as a “slaying.” That’s the hometown newspaper in the town that made Bulger famous well before Johnny Depp played him. CNN reported that it appears Bulger’s life ended “violently.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The FBI Was Notified & an Inmate With Mafia Ties Is Being Investigated, Reports Say
The Boston Globe reported that Bulger was “killed” and an inmate with Mafia ties is being investigated in the “slaying.” However, the Bureau of Prisons has not yet confirmed the death as a homicide.
“Three people briefed on the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a fellow inmate with Mafia ties was being investigated for the slaying of the 89-year-old Bulger,” reported The Boston Globe. That inmate was not named.
The TMZ report was gruesome. It alleges that, according to a prison source, Bulger, who was in a wheelchair, “was in general population Tuesday morning. We’re told he was approached by 3 other inmates who wheeled him into a corner that could not be seen by surveillance cameras.”
According to TMZ, the source told the site that “the inmates beat Bulger — one used a lock in a sock as a weapon — until he was unconscious. They also attempted to gouge his eyes out with some type of shiv, but were unsuccessful. Bulger fell to the ground covered in bruises and with several dents in his head.”
According to a statement from the Bureau of Prisons, on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, at approximately 8:20 a.m., “Inmate James Bulger was found unresponsive at the United States Penitentiary (USP) Hazelton, in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. Life-saving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff. Mr. Bulger was subsequently pronounced dead by the Preston County Medical Examiner.”
The statement continues: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified and an investigation has been initiated. No staff or other inmates were injured, and at no time was the public in danger.”
The statement then ticks off Bulger’s lengthy list of charges, saying, “Mr. Bulger was an 89 year-old male who was sentenced in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts to a Life sentence for Racketeering Conspiracy, Racketeering, Extortion Conspiracy, Money Laundering, Possession of Unregistered Machine Guns, Transfer and Possession of Machine Guns, Possession of Firearms with Obliterated Serial Numbers, and Possession of Machine Guns in Furtherance of a Violent Crime. He had been in custody at USP Hazelton since October 29, 2018. USP Hazelton is a high security facility that currently houses 1,270 male offenders at Federal Correctional Complex (FCC0 Hazelton).”
Bulger was accused of multiple murders in a reign of terror across Boston. The mob boss was played by Johnny Depp in the Hollywood movie Black Mass, and he spent 16 years on the run. He was accused of being an FBI informant but denied it.
“The testimony of human suffering that you and your associates inflicted on others was at times agonizing to hear and painful to watch,” US District Judge Denise Casper said at his sentencing hearing, according to CNN. “At times, I wish we were watching a movie, that what we were hearing was not real. But as the families of victims know all too well, it’s not a movie.”
Authorities were cryptic about Bulger’s death in the hours after it broke. “The US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia and the FBI will be conducting an investigation into the death of James Bulger. No other information will be released at this time,” a spokeswoman for William J. Powell, the US attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, told The Boston Globe.
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