UPDATE: Gangster is 2nd Whitey Bulger slaying suspect, official says

Published: Oct. 30, 2018 at 1:02 PM EDT
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UPDATE 11/2/18

A law enforcement official says a second inmate under suspicion in Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger's prison killing is a Massachusetts man convicted of conspiring to kill a teenager to keep her from talking to police.

The official who was briefed on the investigation said Friday that 44-year-old Paul J. DeCologero is a suspect in Bulger's death Tuesday at a West Virginia prison. The official insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

DeCologero is the second Massachusetts mobster suspected in Bulger's beating.

The FBI has declined to comment. Authorities have said only that Bulger's death is being investigated as a homicide.

Attorney Jeanne Kempthorne previously represented DeCologero and said she has a "hard time seeing a motive" for him to kill Bulger.

UPDATE 10/31/18

Law enforcement officials say James "Whitey" Bulger appeared badly beaten when he was found unresponsive at United States Penitentiary Hazelton Tuesday morning.

According to a report by the Boston Globe, Bulger's eyes were almost gouged out. The 89-year-old Boston gangster was just transferred to USP Hazelton Monday, after spending time at a prison in Florida and a transfer facility in Oklahoma.

It's been reported that two inmates were seen on surveillance video entering Bulger's cell Tuesday morning, and that Bulger was targeted for being a government informant. However, those details have not yet been confirmed by 5 News.

Bulger was convicted in 2013 of numerous crimes, including involvement in 11 murders. A source told the Boston Globe last week that the 89-year-old was in poor health, and was expected to be transferred to a medical facility. It is unclear why he was transferred to USP Hazelton.

This is the 3rd alleged homicide to happen at the high-security prison this year.

The FBI and local officials are investigating Bulger's death.


James "Whitey" Bulger has died in an apparent murder at United States Penitentiary Hazelton.

Bulger, a Boston gangster convicted in 2013 of numerous crimes--including involvement in 11 murders, was recently transferred to USP Hazleton after being moved from a Florida prison and then an Oklahoma transfer facility.

Bulger was 89 years old. According to the Boston Globe, a source said last week that Bulger was expected to be moved to a medical facility due to his deteriorating health. It is currently unknown why he was moved to USP Hazelton.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed that Bulger was dead in a press release. They say Bulgar was booked into USP Hazelton on Monday and was found unresponsive at around 8:20 a.m. Tuesday. Officials say action was taken to save Bulgar's life, but that he was pronounced dead by the Preston County Medical Examiner.

The DOJ did not name a suspected cause of death, and say an investigation is underway. Sources have told news outlets that Bulgar was murdered. Prison officials say that Bulger's death is being invetsigated as a homicide.

No other staff or inmates were injured.

This is the third alleged homicide to happen at USP Hazelton in 2018.

Bulger, the model for Jack Nicholson's ruthless crime boss in the 2006 Martin Scorsese movie, "The Departed," led a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets. He also was an FBI informant who ratted on the New England mob, his gang's main rival, in an era when bringing down the Mafia was a top national priority for the FBI.

Bulger fled Boston in late 1994 after his FBI handler, John Connolly Jr., warned him he was about to be indicted. With a $2 million reward on his head, Bulger became one of the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" criminals, with a place just below Osama bin Laden.

When the extent of his crimes and the FBI's role in overlooking them became public in the late 1990s, Bulger became a source of embarrassment for the FBI. During the years he was a fugitive, the FBI battled a public perception that it had not tried very hard to find him.

After more than 16 years on the run, Bulger was captured at age 81 in Santa Monica, California, where he had been living in a rent-controlled apartment near the beach with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig.

In 2013, he was convicted in the slayings, as well as extortion, and money-laundering after a sensational racketeering trial that included graphic testimony from three former Bulger cohorts: a hit man, a protege and a partner. He was sentenced nearly five years ago to two consecutive life sentences plus five years.

Bulger had just been moved to USP Hazelton, a high-security prison with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. He had been in a prison in Florida before a stopover at a transfer facility in Oklahoma City. Federal Bureau of Prisons officials and his attorney had declined to comment on why he was being moved.

Bulger, nicknamed "Whitey" for his bright platinum hair, grew up in a gritty South Boston housing project and became known as one of the most ruthless gangsters in Boston. His younger brother, William Bulger, became one of the most powerful politicians in Massachusetts, leading the state Senate for 17 years.

In working-class "Southie," Jim Bulger was known for helping old ladies across the street and giving turkey dinners to his neighbors at Thanksgiving. He had a kind of Robin Hood-like image among some locals, but authorities said he would put a bullet in the brain of anyone who he even suspected of double-crossing him.

"You could go back in the annals of criminal history and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone as diabolical as Bulger," said Tom Duffy, a retired state police major who investigated Bulger.

"Killing people was his first option. They don't get any colder than him," Duffy said after Bulger was finally captured in June 2011.

Bulger was accused of strangling Debra Davis, the 26-year-old girlfriend of his partner, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, and Deborah Hussey, also 26, the daughter of Flemmi's common-law wife. In both cases, Bulger insisted on pulling out the women's teeth so they would be difficult to identify, Flemmi testified.

During a search of his Santa Monica apartment, agents found over $800,000 in cash and more than 30 guns, many hidden in holes in the walls. A property manager at the building said Bulger and Greig, who used the names Charles and Carol Gasko, had lived there for 15 years and always paid the rent-controlled rate of $1,145 a month in cash.

They were caught days after the FBI began a new publicity campaign focusing on Greig. The daytime TV announcements showed photos of Greig and noted that she was known to frequent beauty salons and have her teeth cleaned once a month.

A woman from Iceland who knew Bulger and Greig in Santa Monica saw a report on CNN about the latest publicity campaign and called in the tip that led agents to them. The Boston Globe identified the tipster as a former Miss Iceland, a former actress who starred in Noxzema shaving cream commercials in the 1970s.

Bulger, a physical fitness buff, had been taken to a Boston hospital from his jail cell at least three times, complaining of chest pains, since being brought back to Boston to stand trial.


Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.