At last a half dozen family members — including Bulgers brother, former state Senate President Billy Bulger —attended the 30-minute service at St. Monicas Church in South Boston Thursday.
Margaret McCusker, the twin sister of Bulgers longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig, was also seen going into the church.
The Boston Archdiocese confirmed that the funeral mass was held and NBC Boston had exclusive video of the family members outside the church.
Former Massachusetts Senate President William Bulger, the brother of James "Whitey" Bulger; and Margaret McCusker, the twin sister of Whitey Bulger's longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, were both seen leaving Bulger's funeral in South Boston on Thursday.NBC 10 Boston”Out of respect for the family and those who were hurt, it was a private service just for the immediate family,” Father James Flavin, pastor of St. Monicas Church, said in a statement released by the archdiocese. “The Church is certainly aware of the deep pain that innocent victims of crime and violence live with every day.”
The service was held nine days after Bulger, 89, was beaten to death inside his cell at the Hazelton federal penitentiary in West Virginia.
Bulgers battered body was found less than 12 hours after he arrived at the prison, which is plagued by violence and a staffing shortage.
Words entertained him, and they plagued him in a way. Like people calling him Whitey from his blond hair, which infuriated him, when he should have been Jimmy, or Boots, from the cowboy boots he wore. Or like the words good and bad. Clearly he was bad, because he was a racketeer, an extortionist (though rent collector was the term he preferred), an arms trafficker and a mobster. His first spree of robberies in 1955 was bad in the classic Hollywood style, bursting into banks with a pistol in each hand and fleeing with his girlfriend in a getaway car. James Cagney was in his mind then. Later he wore with pride his belt buckle from Alcatraz. As crime became his fixed career, from the 1970s to the 1990s, no one in eastern Massachusetts dared cross him.
Law enforcement sources told NBC News that Bulger was struck repeatedly with a padlock stuffed inside a sock. The killer or killers then placed Bulger in his bed to make it look like he was sleeping, law enforcement sources said.
Bulger prison transfer a death sentence, union boss says
The FBI is investigating the killing. No arrests have been made but investigators are eyeing multiple suspects, including a former Mafia hitman who despises snitches, according to law enforcement sources and the mans lawyer.
The decision to transfer Bulger from a Florida prison to a general population unit at the notorious Hazelton penitentiary has drawn scrutiny from current and former federal prison staffers.
James Whitey Bulger laid to rest in private Mass
As NBC News reported earlier in the week, the official reason given for Bulgers transfer was that he completed medical treatment.
Bulger funeral held at South Boston church
But Bulger wasnt at a medical facility before he was shipped off to West Virginia. He had been locked up in solitary confinement after verbally threatening a nursing supervisor.
Whatever the reason for his transfer, Bulger should never have been placed into a general population unit given his high-profile status and reputation as a snitch, several current and former Bureau of Prisons staffers told NBC News.
Cameron Lindsay, a retired warden at three federal facilities, called the case “a shocking failure on multiple levels.”
“Theres absolutely no way Bulger should have been sent to Hazelton, and he sure as heck should never have been released to the compound at Hazelton,” Lindsay told NBC News earlier in the week.
A law enforcement official said Friday that one suspect is 44-year-old Paul J. DeCologero, who was part of an organized crime gang led by his uncle on Massachusetts’ North Shore called the “DeCologero Crew.” The official insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation.
Tom Winter is a producer and reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit based in New York, covering crime, courts, terrorism, and financial fraud on the East Coast.
Private Funeral Is Held For Whitey Bulger In South Boston
Some three-quarters of a century later, James “Whitey” Bulger finally made it back, in a casket, for his funeral.
DeCologero was convicted in 2006 of racketeering and witness tampering charges for a number of crimes. Authorities say he bought heroin that was used to try to kill 19-year-old Aislin Silva, who his uncle wanted dead because he feared she “would betray the crew to police.”
Bulger, Boston’s most notorious gangster, who was serving a life sentence for 11 murders, was beaten to death by other inmates at a prison in West Virginia Oct. 30.
BOSTON (AP) — Sending Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger to a troubled federal penitentiary that housed other New England mobsters was like giving him a “death sentence,” a prison workers’ union official said Friday.
Funeral For Mobster Whitey Bulger Held In Boston
Keeping with wishes shared by the Archdiocese of Boston and Bulger’s survivors, the funeral Thursday morning was private and confined to immediate family and a few close friends, about 30 people in all, including the twin sister of Bulger’s longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, who spent 16 years on the run with him. Hank Brennan, one of Bulger’s lawyers, also attended.
There were almost as many journalists and curiosity-seekers outside on the sidewalk as there were mourners inside the pews of the old church, now officially known as St. Monica-St. Augustine Church. The Rev. James Flavin, the pastor, dispatched Bulger from this world to the next. Flavin read the Gospel of St. John about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and used his brief homily to pray that “everyone is able to feel the peaceful presence of God and his son, Jesus, in the midst of chaos and pain.”
Bulger’s brother William, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate and the University of Massachusetts, left the church with his wife, Mary, and their sons and daughters. Bulger’s brother John left by another door.
In February, Bulger threatened an assistant supervisor at Coleman, telling her “your day of reckoning is coming,” said Rojas, who works at the prison. Bulger received 30 days in disciplinary detention, he said.
Reporters pursued Flavin down Devine Way, past a nondescript building that houses the Gavin Foundation’s recovery center, where those addicted to the kinds of drugs that Whitey Bulger once flooded his neighborhood with seek help. A woman hung out one of the windows of a nearby building and took pity on Flavin.
In an interview after the funeral, Flavin said that he offered the Mass at the request of the Bulger family and that it was meant to bring peace to both Bulger’s family and his victims.
“We prayed for God’s justice and mercy,” he said. “That the family has peace, that those who were hurt have peace.”
Because he had to catch a flight, another priest assigned to St. Monica’s, the Rev. Peter DeFazio, presided over brief graveside prayers at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in West Roxbury, where Bulger was buried alongside his parents. While there was no formal procession to the funeral, about a half-dozen cars brought mourners to the graveside.
In letters sent from prison, Bulger made it clear that his final wishes were to be buried next to Greig, who took care of him all those years they spent in a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., the city named after the saint for whom his childhood parish is named. She is 67 and is scheduled to be released from prison in 2020 after serving a nine-year sentence for helping him evade capture and refusing to testify against him.
Having ignored his mother’s entreaties to get back to the church that had been a focal point of the family’s religious and social life, Bulger found what he called the best years of his life with Greig in the city named after the patron saint of difficult children.
Beyond that old irony was a more current one, of Bulger’s family gathering to mourn a loved one who died at the hands of someone ultimately under the control of the federal government. In life, Bulger killed with impunity because, and sometimes with the assistance, of the FBI, for whom he was an informant. He died at the hands of fellow inmates who beat him to death after his medical status was suddenly and inexplicably changed by the US Bureau of Prisons to allow his transfer from a prison in Florida where he was safe to a prison in West Virginia teeming with organized crime figures from his native Massachusetts.
“Our family and a lot of families have had to live with that feeling a long, long time,” said Tom Donahue, whose father, Michael, a truck driver, was murdered by Bulger. Like most people, Donahue only learned of the funeral after it happened.
Greig’s sister, Margaret McCusker, said she appreciated that the family invited her to the funeral. Her sister was not allowed to leave prison in Minnesota.
“She’ll be thrilled to know I attended the Mass,” McCusker said. “He wants to be buried with my sister.”
The neighborhood in and around the Mary Ellen McCormack housing project has changed dramatically in the years since Bulger roamed its streets. Once overwhelmingly white and Irish, it is now a community of various colors, ethnicities, and cultures.
Bulger used to volunteer to carry the groceries of the old women and housewives in the project, or pull over when he saw them trudging back from the stores on Broadway, offering them a lift. But those stories, like the old women who told them, are long gone.
Not long after the Mass had ended, an elderly Asian woman using a walker made her way gingerly across Logan Way, mounting the sidewalk outside the squat brick building where Bulger lived as a boy, where he kept an ocelot named Lancelot, where his mother worried for him, and where he had a chance to do anything he chose before he chose a life of crime.
Before he left the pulpit, Flavin spoke the words of Jesus on the cross, a fitting coda to a painful chapter in the life of the city and its most notorious resident.