Some in James ‘Whitey’ Bulger’s inner circle are wondering if the notorious Boston mobster may have requested placement in general population as a way to end it all, sources tell DailyMail.com.
‘He might have been tired of it all, didn’t want to see being shipped to other places, and wanted his life over already,’ a source close to Bulger’s inner circle told DailyMail.com.
Bulger, 89, was killed on Tuesday just hours after arriving at USP Hazelton in West Virginia, where he was placed in general population despite his high profile and known history as an informant.
Suspected in the murder are two inmates: Paul J. DeCologero, who was a member of a North Shore mob in Massachusetts, and Mafia hitman Fotios ‘Freddy’ Geas.
Some in Bulger’s inner circle are speculating that the notorious mob kingpin requested transfer to general assignment as part of a death wish. He is seen above in 2011
The entrance to USP Hazelton in West Virginia is seen in a file photo. Bulger had been transferred to the facility Monday when he was killed
Paul J. DeCologero (left), a member of a North Shore mob in Massachusetts and mafia hit man Fotios ‘Freddy’ Geas (right) have been identified as suspects in Bulger’s murder
Talk among Bulger’s confidantes is that ‘he was transferred because the guards couldn’t stand him. And that he asked to be put in the general population,’ the source said.
While questions remain about why Bulger was placed in general population rather than a special management unit, law enforcement sources have said he agreed to the assignment.
Bulger was wheelchair bound and in poor health when he arrived at Hazelton, and had just spent eight months in solitary confinement at USP Coleman II in Florida after threatening a nursing supervisor.
The chance to switch to general population may have simply been a welcome relief from solitary – or it could have been a final exit strategy for the notoriously Machiavellian crime boss.
John ‘Red’ Shea, a former lieutenant in Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang, told DailyMail.com that suicide-by-hitman would be in line with Bulger’s character.
‘He wanted to go out with a bang I’m sure,’ said Shea, who said that Bulger’s ‘ego’ would have driven him to seek a sensational end.
‘I’ve said his peers should be the real judge and jury,’ Shea added. ‘Didn’t take long.’
Shea served 12 years in prison after refusing to turn informant on the other members of the crew – and bitterly disavowed Bulger after it turned out that the criminal kingpin had been working with the FBI the whole time.
He chronicled his experiences in Rat Bastards: The South Boston Irish Mobster Who Took the Rap When Everyone Else Ran.
Even if Bulger did request general population, the decision to place him there would have been made high up the chain of command, prison workers say.
‘That decision would have been far above us,’ Richard Heldreth, the president of the union representing employees at Hazelton, told NBC News.
Heldreth called the decision to place Bulger in general population ‘unusual’ given ‘the level of violence and the type of inmates housed there’.
‘In general population, you’re in a housing unit with 120 inmates and they have full access to you,’ Heldreth said.
‘I know how he’s been labeled in the court system and that’s not something that goes over well with our inmate population.’
Boston gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, Jr. poses for a mugshot on his arrival at the Federal Penitentiary at Alcatraz on November 16, 1959 in San Francisco, California
Robert Hood, a former warden at the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, said Bulger’s age alone would put him potentially at risk in the prison’s general population.
Add to that Bulger’s notoriety, and Hood said he could not imagine housing him with other inmates.
‘A known snitch in almost every prison is in jeopardy,’ Hood told the AP. ‘I don’t think it was intentional. I just think they gave too much credit to the age of the inmate, thinking: ‘He’s old, he’s not going to hurt anyone,” he said.
A spokesperson at USP Hazelton referred an inquiry from DailyMail.com about Bulger’s placement in general population to the Bureau of Prisons, which did not immediately return a request for comment.
The FBI has declined to comment on the investigation. Federal officials have only said they are investigating Bulger’s death as a homicide.