|James “Whitey’’ Bulger in Boston in 1994, the year before he fled. (John Tlumacki/ Globe Staff)|
Whitey Bulger arrested
Boston gangster surrenders quietly in Calif. after 16 years on run
Fugitive South Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger, wanted for 19 murders, was captured last night in Southern California, the result of a tip from FBI television spots that began airing this week. His capture ended a 16-year manhunt that spanned the globe.
Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office, and Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office, released a statement this morning confirming that FBI agents had arrested the fugitive, who was on the bureau's Ten Most Wanted list, and his companion, Catherine Greig, in California. Neither resisted arrest. Cash and guns found hidden in the apartment were seized, police confirmed.
"Recent publicity produced a tip that led agents to a residence in Santa Monica, California, where they located Bulger and Greig Wednesday evening," the statement said.
The arrests of Bulger, 81, and Greig, 60, were initially announced by FBI headquarters on Twitter.
The arrest is a long-sought victory for the FBI, whose reputation was sullied by its connection to the mobster and whose fruitless efforts to find the fugitive had been regarded by some with suspicion.
Bulger did not appear to be in good health, an official said.
"I don't think he's in a position to be fighting anybody," the official said, adding, "They got a confession from him."
Bulger's brother, former president of the state Senate William M. Bulger, had little to say this morning when a reporter knocked on the door of his South Boston home.
"No comment," said William Bulger, who answered the door in his T-shirt. Informed that his brother had been arrested, Bulger said, "Thank you."
Assistant US Attorney Brian Kelly, part of the prosecution team that brought the federal charges against Whitey Bulger, said this morning, "It's a long time coming and we're glad he's finally in custody."
Bulger fled just before his federal racketeering indictment in January 1995. It was later revealed in federal court in Boston that he was a longtime FBI informant who had been warned by his corrupt handler, former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr., that he was about to be arrested.
Betrayed by the revelation that Bulger was an informant, several of his former associates began cooperating against him, leading to the discovery of secret graves of his victims in the Boston area and additional charges that Bulger murdered 19 people.
Authorities had investigated two possible Bulger sightings in Southern California. In 2000, a tipster reported seeing Greig having her hair done at a salon in Fountain Valley, the newspaper reported. In 2005, the FBI investigated whether Bulger may have been the elderly man who robbed three Orange County banks.
But ultimately, the trail appeared to grow cold and no link was made to the mobster.
On Monday, the FBI announced that after years of focusing on Bulger, it was launching a new initiative aimed at daytime TV viewers.
It began airing a 30-second public service announcement in 14 cities across the United States urging people to be on the lookout for Greig, a dental hygienist who was devoted to her appearance, had plastic surgery in the past, and frequently had her hair cut and teeth cleaned. The spots aired during daytime shows, including, "Ellen," "The View," and "Live with Regis & Kelly."
A woman who answered the door at the South Boston home of Greig's sister, Margaret McCusker, was told of the arrest by a Globe reporter this morning. "They found him? Finally," she said. "I want my sister to come home."
Travis Andersen and Andrew Ryan of the Globe staff contributed to this report.