- Notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was found dead at a West Virginia prison on Tuesday.
- Bulger was listed as a transfer to the high-security USP Hazelton in West Virginia, earlier in the day.
- Bulger, 89, was serving a life sentence after being convicted of participating in the killings at least 11 people.
Notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was killed by at least two inmates believed to be “affiliated with the mob,” Federal Bureau of Prisons officials told the New York Times.
Bulger, 89, was found unresponsive in his cell at the high-security USP Hazelton prison in West Virginia on Tuesday at 8:20 a.m., just hours after he was transferred to the facility.
Despite life-saving measures performed by responding staff, he was later pronounced dead by the Preston County Medical Examiner, the FBI announced in a statement.
A Federal Bureau of Prisons official told the Times that Bulger was beaten to death by inmates, but did not reveal any further details.
A senior law enforcement official told the Times that a federal official told him an organised crime figure was believed to be responsible for Bulger’s death.
Bulger, 89, was serving a life sentence after being convicted of a number of crimes in 2013, including participating in the killings of at least 11 people.
The former leader of the Winter Hill Gang was convicted of killings in Oklahoma, Florida, and Massachusetts.
President of the corrections officers’ union at Hazelton, Richard Heldreth, told WVNews that a male inmate had been killed over night but did not confirm the man’s identity.
The FBI and US Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday afternoon that they are investigating the inmate’s death.
New: FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office probing Whitey Bulger’s death. pic.twitter.com/RvlQvEDZj8
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) October 30, 2018
The statement said USP Hazelton gained custody of Bulger on Monday.
He had recently been moved from Florida to a facility in Oklahoma City before moving to West Virginia, according to The Associated Press.
It remains unclear why Bulger, whose health was deteriorating, was moved from facility to facility, and officials from the Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the moves.
An insider told The Times, however, that Bulger was transferred to Hazelton after threatening a staff member at the Coleman prison complex in Sumterville, Florida.
The facility where he was found dead, USP Hazelton, is a federal prison located in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia.
Bulger, the son of an Irish immigrant who grew up in South Boston, was one of the most notorious gangsters in the US from the 1970s to the 1990s.
His Irish mob ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets across Boston, according to the Associated Press, and Bulger later became the model for Jack Nicholson’s crime boss in the 2006 Martin Scorsese movie, “The Departed.”
The mobster inspired several other film and TV characters, and 2015’s “Black Mass,” starring Johnny Depp as Bulger.
In Boston, Bulger was seen as a Robin Hood-like character to some locals, and was known for helping women cross the street and feeding neighbours at Thanksgiving.
He was also an FBI informant and helped the organisation bring down the New England mob, his gang’s rival.
Federal officials accused him of killing or arranging the murders of 19 people between 1973 and 1985, though he was only convicted of playing a role in 11 of the deaths.
In 1994, when he learned he was about to be arrested, Bulger fled Boston and went on the lam for 16 years.
Until his arrest in Santa Monica, California, in 2011, Bulger was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives.
At the time of his arrest, officials found fake IDs, $US800,000 in cash, and weapons inside his Santa Monica apartment, which he shared with his longtime companion Catherine Greig, according to the Huffington Post.
According to The Boston Globe, Bulger’s reputation was shredded during his racketeering trial in federal court in 2013, where he was portrayed as a mob boss who bribed FBI agents and strangled at least one woman.
Along with convictions for 11 of 19 murders, he was convicted of extortion and money laundering. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
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