Hours after news of the jailhouse murder of notorious Boston crime boss James 'Whitey' Bulger leaked to the new media, rumors began circulating that the slaying of the 89-year-old, wheelchair-confined Bulger may have been carried out with the possible tacit approval of federal authorities, who were worried that Bulger - whose long-rumored status as a government informant was laid bare during his 2013 trial - might expose corruption at the highest levels of the FBI's witness cooperation program.
Authorities initially said a "mafia-linked" suspect was under investigation for his role in the killing. But amid an official information blackout, TMZ and the Daily Mail reported the grisly details of Bulger's death. After being transferred to the USP Hazelton facility in West Virginia on Tuesday, Bulger was released into the general population.
But before he could even be officially booked into the prison, the former Irish mob boss was whacked by three prisoners, who reportedly wheeled him to a secluded area and savagely beat him with combination lock stuffed in a sock, before attempting to gouge out his eyes - an old school organized crime gesture of contempt for 'rats', or criminals who give information about their underworld associates to law enforcement.
While those reports were based on anonymously sourced accounts, the Boston Globe appeared to confirm these accounts when it reported late Tuesday that a notorious New England mafia hitman is the prime suspect in the slaying of Bulger. Fotios "Freddy" Geas, 51, who is serving a life sentence for his involvement in the 2003 assassination of Springfield, Mass. mob boss "Big Al" Bruno, is believed to be behind Bulger's slaying. And according to the Globe's sources, he hasn't disputed his role in the killing to authorities.
Geas' friends weren't surprised to hear that he may have been involved in the killing.
"Freddy hated rats," private investigator and Geas’ friend Ted McDonough told the paper. "Freddy hated guys who abused women. Whitey was a rat who killed women. It’s probably that simple."
Even Geas' former lawyer, who represented Geas in his Mafia murder case, said he wasn't surprised to hear that his former client had refused to dispute his role in the killing and had refused to identify any accomplices.
"He wouldn’t rat on anybody," said attorney David Hoose. "And he had no respect for anyone who did."
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts prosecutor who convicted Bulger offered no words of remorse for a man whom he once described as one of the cruelest killers in the criminal underworld, per CNN.
James 'Whitey' Bulger
A statement Tuesday from Andrew Lelling, the US Attorney for Massachusetts, was brief. It made no mention of Bulger other than he had died.
"We received word this morning about the death of James "Whitey" Bulger. Our thoughts are with his victims and their families," the statement said.
As Geas' involvement is looking increasingly likely, nobody in the Bureau of Prisons, or anywhere else in the federal government, has bothered to explain why Bulger was left in such a vulnerable position after a seemingly arbitrary transfer from his previous facility in Florida.