One of the most notorious criminals in recent memory has reportedly died at the high-security USP Hazelton penitentiary in West Virginia.
According to a Justice Department statement, Boston mobster turned FBI informant James “Whitey” Bulger was found unresponsive at 8:20 a.m. Tuesday morning the day after he was moved from a transfer facility in Oklahoma City to the Hazelton Penitentiary. He was 89.
The FBI is investigating the death, which they now believe to be foul play, as a union official claimed a “male inmate” was killed overnight in the prison. The Boston Globe reports, “a fellow inmate with Mafia ties is being investigated for the slaying.”
Update: we have received new details on the suspected homicide from TMZ.
A prison source tells us Bulger — who is wheelchair bound — 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.
Our source says 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.
Bulger, who was the subject of movies like The Departed and Black Mass, eluded authorities for 16 years before police finally hunted him down in Santa Monica, California in June 2011. He was head of the infamous South Boston crime ring known as the Winter Hill Gang from the 1970s to the 1990s that terrorized the city.
In 2013, he was convicted of 31 counts, including racketeering, extortion, money laundering, drug dealing and weapons possession. The jury also found Bulger responsible for 11 murders between 1973 to 1985. In November 2013, he was sentenced to two life terms plus an extra five years for committing “unfathomable” acts that contributed to the most violent period in Boston’s history.
As CNN points out, at sentencing, Bulger refused to make eye contact with the relatives of the people he murdered. While they called him things like “coward” and “rat” and “Satan,” Bulger showed no emotion and just scribbled on a notepad he had in front of him.