Welcome back. This week its back to true crime as Whitey Bulger is now in prison in Oklahoma where Roger Wheeler’s murder occured. But first here’s a quick review of my involvement in the case:
I was in Santa Monica two years ago when Bulger was captured. I attended his trial in Boston this past August and his sentencing last month. I hope the accounts of my meetings with Whitey’s brother Jackie as well as Whitey’s lawyers, witnesses and TV personalities which I sent back have been enjoyable to read. For those of you visiting over the holidays, past editions of the Wednesday paper that have my column are available at the offices of the Examiner-Enterprise or you can visit my website www.originalbuffalodale.com With that said it’s on to my Christmas story of true crime.
After Whitey’s sentencing I visited with Massachusetts State Police Lt. Steve Johnson and his remarks revealed a great deal about the twenty years it took to bring down south Boston’s most notorious crime boss. It was Steve and special DEA AgentDaniel Doughtery who were credited with persisting in the pursuit of the man who has just been convicted of killing eleven people and participating in the murders of seven more. It was Steve and Daniel who opened up the first grave that held six bodies and later it was these two dedicated cops who found the bodies of Tommy King and Debbie Davis in a marsh. You couldn’t make up the stories these two had to tell.
As Whitey’s accomplices started making plea agreements, they began drawing maps leading to other bodies and telling the cops stories about the murders that were so gruesome they affected them personally. The death of Debbie Davis was one such story.
The Davis family endured more tragedy than most during the Bulger era and hearing how the seventeen year old Debbie got involved with the gang and met her death at such a young age had bothered both of them. The description of the location was quite vague and the area was roughly half the size of a football field. A backhoe had been digging for days and the two cops dissected every scoop of dirt it brought up. It was on the last day of digging and literally with the last scoop of earth when the corpse was finally discovered. Debbie has been the girlfriend of Whitey’s hit man Stephen Flemmi . When Flemmi tired of her he decided she knew too much about his activities then lured her to a house where Whitey was waiting to strangle her. The pair stripped her, wrapped her body in plastic and duck tape, threw it in the trunk of a car and left it there for hours while they decided where to bury her. Now with the discovery of her remains, Debbie could finally be put to rest. At times the brutality of the things they learned about was almost too much for the two cops but in the end they felt it was all worth it when they got their man.
Debbie’s brother Steve Davis and I have spoken often about his efforts to get justice for his sister and he also praises the work of Lt. Johnson and Agent Dougherty. Steve lost two sisters and a brother to the Winter Hill gang and his life has been threatened too. Steve was at the trial everyday and frequently voiced his hatred of Whitey and anyone associated with him.
The eight week trial had taken a toll on everyone by the end of August when the jury found James Whitey Bulger guilty of murder and of operating a large criminal enterprise. The enterprise lasted from the late 1960s through the 1990s and encompassed drugs, extortion, book making, money laundering and racketeering. Whitey was also found guilty of corrupting FBI agents and a couple dozen other cops who were also on his payroll. These activities had made Whitey a very wealthy man and his favorite saying at this time of year was “Christmas is for cops and kids.” Now the question is where was all the money? When he was captured in Santa Monica, the cops found over $822,000 dollars along with some high priced jewelry and a bunch of guns. In Boston his brother Jackie recently lost his $60,000 a year pension when a safely deposit full of cash was discovered.
It’s clear that Whitey will never see any of it but what about the others? Stay tuned for the second part of this article to learn more.