James 'Whitey' Bulger was bludgeoned to death by inmates during a prison attack last year, death certificate reveals
Whitey Bulger, the notorious Irish-American organized crime boss and FBI informant who once led the Winter Hill Gang in Massachusetts, was found dead at the United States Penitentiary, Hazelton, West Virginia, on October 30 last year. He was 89.
Inmates bludgeoned the wheelchair-bound Bulger to death within hours of his arrival at Hazelton. And while the details of his death were unclear, his death certificate, which was made public on Thursday sheds some light on his passing.
The certificate, which lists his time of death as 8:21 am, officially ruled his death as a homicide. It states the cause of death as "Blunt Force Injuries of the Head," and reports that his injuries occurred when he was "assaulted by other(s)".
The approximate time between the onset of his injuries and his death was listed as "minutes," and he was pronounced dead by the Preston County Medical Examiner at 9:04 am after lifesaving measures failed.
Federal law enforcement officials told NBC News that Bulger was attacked with a padlock stuffed in a sock, known popularly as 'lock-in-the-sock,' inside his cell on arrival. Six months after Bulger's murder, no one has been charged in connection with his death, though Fotios 'Freddy' Geas, a reputed New England Mafia hitman, is considered to be a potential suspect.
Bulger led the Irish mob in South Boston for decades, later becoming an informant for the FBI by supplying them with information on his gang's primary rivals, the New England Mafia. But when he was tipped off in 1994 that he was about to be indicted, he made a run for it and went into hiding.
He remained at large for the next 16 years — twelve of which he spent as second on FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list behind none other than Osama Bin Laden —before he was arrested outside an apartment in Santa Monica in June 2011.
Bulger was subsequently extradited to Massachusetts, and in June 2013, was found guilty on 31 counts, including racketeering and murder charges. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus five years for his crimes and was initially incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary Coleman II in Sumterville, Florida.
He was transferred to several other facilities in the coming years, including the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma, before his ill-fated move to the penitentiary in West Virginia.