They could have found him sooner had they tried harder.

It took them 16 years to find him. A lot of people knew where he was or knew enough to ask the right questions from the right people and get the correct answer.

If they had wanted to. But he was a dangerous guy with powerful friends. A dangerous guy with a brother who was a powerful figure in Boston’s government too.

Two brothers. So different. One becomes (eventually) the top guy at the University of Massachusetts. A really popular guy, too. Funny, witty, educated. But his brother — Whitey — was a killer. How does that happen? What kind of family dynamics produce the head of a mob and the head of the university?

I think every general assignment reporter in Boston had some inkling of his location, including my husband who never said so because he never talks about “the mob,” not when we were young or now … but I was sure he knew a lot more than he said. The FBI knew because they used him as a source for decades and paid him for it, too.

He was supposedly some kind of a “Robin Hood” in Southie. Maybe for his friends, he was. For everyone else, he was a murderous thug. Eventually, it all broke open and he went to prison and died there today.

Former mob boss and fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger, who was arrested in Santa Monica, California on June 22, 2011 along with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig is shown in this 2011 booking photo. In the opening of the murder and racketeering trial on June 12, 2013, prosecutors described Bulger, 83, as the leader of a criminal gang responsible for decades of “murder and mayhem.” Prosecutors say 19 people were killed by Bulger’s hand or at his order. REUTERS/U.S. Marshals Service/U.S. Department of Justice/Handout via Reuters

His brother, who I’m sure always knew how to find him, leaped from his office and floated down on a golden parachute.

The feared leader of the Winter Hill Gang, “Whitey” Bulger was convicted (finally) in 2013 of 11 murders stretching from Boston to Florida and Oklahoma. Bulger had spent 16 years as one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives before he was captured in Santa Monica, California, in 2011.

The could have found him sooner. If they tried harder.

Categories: Daily Prompt, Death and Dying, justice, Law, Legal Matters

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24 replies

  1. Agree that it would have been better to arrest him before he got so old and ended up this way.


  2. I recall the 60 Minutes story after he was caught, and the interview that followed. He was hiding in plain sight and had lots of cash.


  3. Aren’t the brothers two sides of the same coin? Billy was just a crook of a different kind. His golden parachute was extra heavy and I seem to recall he had a hand in designing it himself. Could be wrong on that but I seem to recall reports in the news about his political shenanigans to maximize his pension.


    • Well, he was, after all, the head of Boston’s Congress forever — and the official or unofficial leader of our Democratic party for at least all the years I’ve been in Massachusetts. He was actually a fun guy to be around, too. Surely the Feds knew his brother knew where Whitey was, but no one ever seemed to get around to asking him. Hmmm.

      Did Billy build himself an imperishable parachute? I can’t prove it, but I’m sure he did. Talk about people who knew people: Billy KNEW everyone and everyone knew him. Even I knew him. As a matter of fact, we bumped into him when we were honeymooning in Ireland. We stayed in the same hotel in Galway.

      When I lived in Jerusalem, I knew a highly placed cop who pointed out to me that he had a choice: be a criminal or a cop. He went with cop. He said it was not an uncommon choice, either.


  4. Last sentence of yer post. Agreed.


  5. Why didn’t they find him earlier? They weren’t looking. He had a lot of advantages: FBI detectives on the take, not to mention the local police looked the other way and a brother with connections. Such a shame they wouldn’t stop him earlier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were so many levels of coverup — from corrupt law enforcement officials and Whitey’s people — he was always a few steps ahead of the latest “tip”. Some of us could figure which tips were legit and which were bogus. You had to “know people”.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Begs the question as to why, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My goodness! Such an old fart when he died, and yet still a ‘celebrity’. Amazing. You asked what kind of family dynamic might produce a learned scholar, as well as a cunning and thoroughly evil killer. There’s a term for this: “sociopath”. I think anyone can be born a sociopath (I’m not clever enough to know for certain of course), and have family that are otherwise normal and even extremely compassionate and caring. It’s all in the mix of chemicals and other elements that make up the human being (individually). Some are born ‘bad’, as trite as that might sound.

    And good for Garry for keeping that sort of knowledge out of his personal life. It’s protection…for you and your family; but also I think dwelling on the worst scenarios that reporters and cops and so forth SEE on a sometimes daily basis would make the reporter or cop or whatever insane after a while, so not talking about that stuff is also protection for them. Sad isn’t it that some waste of life like that man would make headlines… very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. I asked a lot of questions and Garry never — I mean NEVER — answered. He said the original guys might be dead, but they had family. And friends. He would simply never take the chance. I don’t think they know if he died of natural causes or just died. There seems to be an assumption of murder. Considering he was 89 and in poor health, it seems a waste of a perfectly good murder. He wasn’t going to live much longer anyway.

      He was a big deal and one of the most wanted by the FBI for many years. Around Boston, he was something of a local legend. In his day, he was a very big deal and they made at least one movie about how they finally nabbed him. I think there’s another on the way.

      My husband knew some interesting people.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Melanie, thanks. You understand why I don’t share war stories about the likes of Whitey Bulger. Even in prison, you’re never safe from the long arms of the MOB. This is not movie lore, it’s hard truth. I’ve known colleagues who talked too much, bragging about their closeness to wiseguys. They paid directly and indirectly for their loose lips. I HAVE shared some stories that I feel “safe” for conversation. They deal more with “strange” friendships that I never sought or initiated. Albert “The Boston Strangler” DiSalvo is a classic example. DiSalvo took a liking to me on one of my first visits to Walpole State Prison. Apparently he had seen some of my TV work and liked my style. We had an on and off “bond” until a few months before his death. DiSalvo even made a lamp for me. It was a curiosity. Think of Darren McGavin’s beloved lamp in “A Christmas Story” and you have a notion of the lamp I received from Albert DiSalvo. I got rid of it after a few years because it was difficult explaining to some of my lady friends.

      I’ll leave Whitey Bulger to others.

      Liked by 1 person

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