Ex-mob hitman ‘murdered’ Bulger
SLAIN mobster James "Whitey" Bulger may have had his eyes gouged out as part of a grisly mafia punishment for being an FBI informant.
Bulger was found dead on Tuesday at a prison in West Virginia, one day after he was transferred to the high-security facility to serve the remainder of two life sentences for a string of brutal crimes.
According to The New York Times, the 89-year-old gangster, who inspired the 2006 Martin Scorsese movie, The Departed, had been beaten to death by at least two fellow inmates with underworld connections who felt "betrayed" by his snitching.
Bulger steadfastly denied being an FBI informant, but close links between some FBI agents in Boston and Bulger's Winter Hill Gang in the 1970s and 1980s have been well documented.
Bulger even fled Boston in late 1994 after former FBI agent, John Connolly Jr, warned him he was about to be indicted.
Connolly was later sentenced to prison after being convicted in 2002 of effectively becoming a member of the gang.
No official details have been given on the circumstances of Bulger's death but according to federal prison employees, who spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity, the crime boss did not die of old age.
The Sun has now reported that horrifying details have emerged of how the Irish-American gangster was jumped on by a group of prisoners, with one wielding a homemade knife which was used to try to cut his eye balls out - a gruesome tribute to a trademark signature of the Mafia in the 1930s and 1940s, where gouging out someone's eyes was a symbolic punishment for spying.
The publication also reports that hitman Fotios "Freddy" Geas, 51, who is serving a life sentence in the same prison as murdered Bulger, is under investigation for instigating the killing.
Private investigator Ted McDonough, who knew Geas, told the Boston Globe: "Freddy hated rats. Freddy hated guys who abused women. Whitey was a rat who killed women. It's probably that simple."
AMERICA'S MOST WANTED
The subject of a years-long manhunt, Bulger was serving two life sentences for 11 murders, racketeering, extortion, money laundering, possession of firearms and other crimes.
Arrested in 2011 after 16 years on the run, Bulger's life of crime has been the subject of several books and movies including Black Mass, a biopic featuring Johnny Depp as the Irish-American mobster. He was one of the nation's most-wanted fugitives after fleeing Boston in late 1994.
But Bulger was finally arrested in Santa Monica, California, where he had been living quietly under an assumed name with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig.
She was sentenced separately to eight years in prison for aiding and abetting him.
Police found some $800,000 ($A1.1 million) in cash and an arsenal of weapons in the modest apartment where Bulger and Greig had lived for years as Charles and Carol Gasko.
A $2 million ($A2.8 million) reward for Bulger's capture was doled out to a former Icelandic beauty queen who tipped off the police to their whereabouts.
A 12-person jury found Bulger guilty in Boston in 2013 of 31 separate charges.
"The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes, is almost unfathomable," Judge Denise Casper said at his sentencing.
Bulger ruled the Boston underworld with an iron fist for nearly 30 years while also working as an informant for the FBI.
His trial, which featured 72 witnesses and 840 exhibits, produced chilling testimony worthy of a pulp novel.
It heard harrowing tales of teeth being pulled from the mouths of murder victims to foil identification and the strangulation of a mobster's girlfriend who "knew too much."
Bulger refused to testify at his trial claiming he had been given immunity from prosecution by federal agents.
Following his conviction, the US Justice Department paid more than $20 million ($A28 million) in damages to families of people killed by Bulger on the grounds that he was operating under government supervision while killing.