The Phoenix Network:
About | Advertise
Letters  |  Media -- Dont Quote Me  |  News Features  |  Talking Politics  |  The Editorial Page  |  This Just In

We found Whitey Bulger . . . and he’s still missing

Anniversary party: The FBI celebrates 12 years of failure
By DAVID BOERI  |  January 5, 2007


Was it Whitey? Click here to view the surveillance video.

“What do his legs look like?”

I’d never been asked that before. I was taking a call from San Diego about Whitey Bulger. I get a lot of calls about Bulger, but this one was different.

“I need to know what his legs look like. I’m pretty sure it’s him.”

I knew Whitey carried a knife strapped to his ankle — investigators found a Velcro ankle strap at one of his places. I knew the cops going through the trash outside his Quincy place back in the ’80s figured out he was lactose intolerant. I knew his vital stats better than I know my daughters’. But I didn’t know what Bulger’s legs looked like.

I figured I’d better find out. The guy I was talking to in San Diego, who had identified himself as a law-enforcement agent, clearly had an eye for detail.

“He has blue eyes. I got close to him as he was leaving the theater and looked right into them. He was wearing a white shirt — an Oxford button-down — white shoes — New Balance — and a floppy fisherman’s-bucket hat, and shorts.”

The caller reached me a day or two after he’d gone to a matinee screening of the Martin Scorsese movie The Departed in downtown San Diego on October 6, 2006. He was so sure that in the audience he’d spotted the South Boston gangster upon whom Jack Nicholson’s character was supposed to be based that afterward he’d maneuvered his way to the front of the crowd to get a good look at the man’s face. Seeing the man’s eyes were blue, he’d tailed him for four blocks before losing him near the trolley, he said.

That he’d lost sight of a 77-year-old man was embarrassing enough — I figured the guy wouldn’t have made that up. I was impressed by his initiative; he had the makings of a real fugitive hunter. While following the look-alike, he’d called the San Diego bureau of the FBI, and that afternoon, an agent had pulled tape from a surveillance camera situated in the mall outside the theater. It showed the backside of someone going down an escalator who, the agent told him, had the same mannerisms as Bulger. (Click here to view the surveillance video.)

Now, a couple days later, my caller was seething with frustration. He’d expected that the bureau would help him flood the area — he thought he knew where Bulger had gone. He was ready to go. But the FBI wasn’t returning his calls or e-mails. Showing still more initiative, he’d gone back to the mall, retraced the path his subject had taken, flashed his credentials, and found five cameras that had captured the look-alike’s image on tape, face forward and even in close-up. He was already searching the area he thought his suspect was headed for on the trolley. He was eagerly waiting for agents to join him. He was eager to describe the look-alike’s facial features to see if it was a match.

“I’m a freaking cop and they’re not returning my calls,” he complained. The FBI didn’t return his calls for the next 36 days.

I didn’t know what Bulger’s legs looked like, but I told my man in San Diego I knew people who probably did, and that I’d get back to him. I was skeptical he’d seen Bulger, but I knew enough to take him seriously. “His legs are freckled and he has no hair on them,” he told me.

As it turns out, Whitey’s family, lovers, and rape victims may be the only ones who’ve ever seen the gangster’s legs.

JIM? IS THAT YOU? The Bulger possible in San Diego.
Click here to view surveillance video.
“He never once wore shorts when I was with him,” said Kevin Weeks, and as his right-hand man for 20 years, Weeks had seen Bulger in all sorts of positions: strangling a woman with his hands, blowing a victim’s brains out, and casually and cruelly killing another victim over the course of hours . . . but never in shorts.

The California sun has been known to loosen up a lot of people, however, and maybe “Jim,” as Bulger’s friends know him, had unburdened himself of both killing and clothing conventions. Perhaps he’s shed the long pants as easily as he discarded the 19 murder indictments and the 18 other killings Weeks says the fugitive owned up to one night. Maybe that was Whitey in shorts.

But the FBI wasn’t calling my man in San Diego, who now had a collection of videos and images of the subject that the bureau didn’t even know about. The fact that his Bulger look-alike hadn’t taken his hat off in the movie theater had my caller convinced and pumped him to go looking.

“They don’t even call me,” my West Coast contact fumed. “They bungle-f’d the whole thing.”

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |   next >
  • Howie Carr blows up
    As Whitey makes him famous, the Bulger -scribe doesn’t have to worry about facts
  • Brass balls and cold steel
    Whitey Bulger soldiers John “Red” Shea and Patrick Nee tell their side of the story
  • Torture-tapes template
    Bush-administration lawyers could be nailed for their role in destroying evidence in the CIA scandal, thanks to a quiet Connecticut child-porn case
  • More more >
  Topics: News Features , James "Whitey" Bulger , Federal Bureau of Investigation , Steven Flemmi ,  More more >
  • Share:
  • RSS feed Rss
  • Email this article to a friend Email
  • Print this article Print
We found Whitey Bulger . . . and he’s still missing
Why hasn't anyone said that the FBI having the Whitey fugitive case is a "Conflict of Interest"? Why would the FBI want to catch a guy who was an informant for them for how long? 20 years? The FBI gave this guy "carte-blanche" to run wild as long as he "ratted" on everyone. How much money did they pay him over those years? Millions? He is probably using our tax dollars to stay on the run! Do you really think the FBI wants to catch Whitey so he can tell everyone about the "good old days" working for the FBI? We know as stated in the article that people were killed while on their watch. Could there be more? Connelly took the "hit" and is in jail now, but what about Connelly's bosses over all those years? I guess they didn't know what Connelly and Whitey were doing! Right! Most people don't realize that the FBI did not want Whitey indicted to begin with. Alot of pressure was put on the US Attorney's office not to go forward. Most people don't realize that the State Police and DEA brought the Whitey case to the US Attorney's office. Most people don't realize that of all the indictment counts brought against Whitey (19 murders etc.) the FBI has one count of extortion. So why is it they are involved in this case? Could it be to protect their "down-side"? Another question, (also mentioned in the article) the lead federal agency in hunting fugitives is the US Marshals. Why are they not involved in the Whitey case? I think you can guess why, because they might catch him. "Conflict of Interest"? Tell me it's not. Great job Boeri, one of the few reporters to "stand up" against the most powerful agency in the world. Lets see how long it takes the new SAC to get promoted!!!!!!
By Ravin on 01/11/2007 at 2:09:36
We found Whitey Bulger . . . and he’s still missing
I, too, think that I spotted Bulger at a theater in NYC. I called an FBI friend about the siting and submitted and detailed report, but they never followed up. See our blog at for more details. There are two articles here about Bulger.
By Skipp on 09/24/2007 at 5:12:17

Today's Event Picks
Share this entry with Delicious

 See all articles by: DAVID BOERI

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

Featured Articles in Music Features:
Saturday, November 22, 2008  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2008 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group