Whitey’s entrance into Winter Hill’s embrace had to have been slow, as I’ve written, based upon the need for the hardened gangsters to build up a trust in this unknown quantity and for him to trust them. You don’t go off and murder someone who can be a witness against you unless you have a good reason to trust in the guy. Remember these guys didn’t know each other before the end of 1972.
The indictment against Whitey charges him with 19 murders. There are other murders he has been rumored to have been associated with but since the feds threw everything at him that they could I’m evaluating him on these.
They can be broken down into three major categories. They all occurred after the date Whitey became associated with Winter Hill. The first two groups are during the Learning Years: The Pre-Flemmi Murders, the five murders done before Stevie Flemmi came back from his flight in May 1974 which Martorano is the only witness against Whitey; and the Full Gang Murders, the six murders done prior to the time Martorano fled in 1979 in which Flemmi participated. The others happened during the Boss Years. These last seven murders were done after Martorano went on the lam, Winter was in jail, McDonald and Sims out of the picture and the Winter Hill leadership was reduced to Whitey and Stevie Flemmi.
All the Pre-Flemmi Murders except one, Spike O’Toole, were done under contract to the Boston Mafia’s Gerry Angiulo. This was an agreement arrived at between Angiulo for the Mafia and Howie Winter and John Murderman Martorano for Winter Hill. The first three murders in March 1973 all were done by Murderman and an unidentified person in the back seat of the car firing grease guns. Jimmy Sims was driving the car. Murderman called this the A team.
I have suggested they probably did not involve Whitey. He was too new to the gang for any confidence to have built up between them. It is a little preposterous to expect a jury to believe Whitey, who wasn’t in the murder car shooting at the victims and had been with the gang for a couple of months, is involved in those murders especially based on the testimony of a gunman who got a great deal for testifying and refuses to identify the other gunman.
The fourth victim Spike O’Toole was killed on December 1, 1973, 6 days before his 43 birthday. I remember Spike from my neighborhood Savin Hill. He lived on Sagamore Street and I lived at the corner of Belfort and Sagamore. I recall sitting in a coffee shop across from St. William’s Church and one of my friends saying, “Spike O’Toole is sitting over there.” I knew him as someone who was to be avoided. He was known to be a gangster. I never saw him around that much because he spent a lot of time in Walpole prison.
Murderman in his book tells us Whitey first killed Paulie McGonagle with Tommy King’s help. Then because it was a lot of work and risky “to kill somebody basically by himself. So for his next victim [Spike O’Toole], Whitey decided to bring in his Somerville partners.”
We’re left to wonder why Whitey wanted to murder O’Toole. Spike was a member of the McLaughlin gang back in the ’60s. He was believed to have been one of the two gunmen who wounded Jimmy “the Bear”Flemmi during the McLauglin/McLean gang war. Whitey had no part of that.
Murderman goes on to explain: “we start hearing . . . [h]e’s talking out of school, Spike is. I never liked him; he shot the Bear. Howie didn’t like him ’cause he was with the other guys during the war. So Spike . . . gets to talking about retaliating. He’s gonna kill Howie. . . . He’s a dangerous kid, he shoulda got shot already, and this was an excuse to do it. I mean, we’re not going to let him kill Howie. That’s why Spike had to go.”
A couple of things are wrong with all this. First, Paulie McGonagle is not killed until November 1974, about a year after Spike. Spike could hardly have been Whitey’s next victim after Paulie. Next, the quote attributable to Murderman indicated it was he and Howie that wanted Spike killed, not Whitey. Again, it looks like Murderman just threw Whitey into one of his murders. His reasons for Whitey being involved simply don’t fit.
However, one questions whether Murderman was even involved in the murder. His description of what happened does not square with what we know. If Murderman was not involved, then when he tells about Whitey being there we have to salt that with a great deal of doubt.
I’ll explain tomorrow why Murderman has the murder all wrong.