John B. Callahan John B. Callahan
Callahan murder saga
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Callahan murder saga

John B. Callahan

Boston business consultant John B. Callahan was found dead on Aug. 2, 1982, his bullet-riddled body stuffed in the trunk of his Cadillac in a parking lot at Miami International Airport. The 45-year-old had served as president of World Jai Alai, a sports betting operation with frontons in Connecticut and Florida. Authorities immediately suspected his slaying was linked to James "Whitey" Bulger's Winter Hill gang.

Callahan was a married father of two who lived in Winchester and had an office on Commercial Wharf in Boston. He grew up in Medford, earned a business degree at Boston College, and worked at two of Boston's largest accounting firms -- Ernst & Ernst and Arthur Andersen & Co. -- and as a consultant to the First National Bank of Boston.

In 1974, Callahan became president of World Jai Alai. He left abruptly two years later as Connecticut authorities were investigating him for possible links to organized crime figures in Boston. Police had spotted Callahan fraternizing with members of the Winter Hill gang.

Callahan helped arrange the 1978 sale of World Jai Alai to Roger Wheeler, a Tulsa businessman and chairman of Telex Corp. After Wheeler was shot to death outside a Tulsa country club in May 1981, law enforcement renewed their focus on Callahan's alleged ties to the Winter Hill gang.

In a statement to the Globe from his lawyer in June 1981, Callahan defended himself.

"In the ordinary course of business of World Jai Alai it was at times my obligation to meet certain individuals whose reputation may have been questionable," he said. "It is perhaps also true that I have been in public places in which such individuals were present. However, I categorically deny that I have ever been an associate in a business matter or otherwise of any reputed member of organized crime.''

Winter Hill gang associate Edward "Brian'' Halloran began cooperating with the FBI in the investigation of Wheeler's murder, implicating Callahan, Bulger, and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi. In May 1982, Halloran was gunned down along with an innocent bystander.

The FBI was trying to locate Callahan for questioning when his body was discovered in Miami that August.

Flemmi cut a deal with the government and pleaded guilty to Callahan's murder. Flemmi has said that FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. told him and Bulger that Callahan would be a "weak link'' and implicate them in Wheeler's murder.

Infamous mob hitman John Martorano also cut a deal and pleaded guilty. He confessed to luring Callahan to Florida and killing him.

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