Only His Closest Associates Knew Of Whitey Bulger’s Murders Before Murderman Martorano Made His Deal

I began writing about Billy Bulger on Sunday. Before going on, I want to discuss two things that are important to know when judging Billy. First, we should know the characters that are part of his story; and, we should judge him and his actions by what was known in the past and not by what we know now.

Knowing about the background of characters who are involved permits you to make a more informed decision about the person’s veracity and to better judge a person’s actions.

When you interact with a stranger you go through a process to determine whether the person should be believed. You listen to see if the thing he is saying makes sense and you try to judge the person’s character.  The greater understanding you have of a person’s background, the better your decision as to his or her veracity.

A young man who settled in Boston after graduating from Harvard Law School at the age of twenty Louis Brandeis wrote in 1913 in Harper’s Weekly that “Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant.” 

He was referring to the need of the public to be knowledgeable about the huge commissions being made by bankers and money trusts. He would also use the term in relation to the knowledge of what is behind governmental actions. I suggest it also applies to the people we read about or who we come into contact with. The more we know what makes a person tick, the better off we will be in making a decision relative to the person.

I’ll try to provide some more light on some of the characters we will read about when I write about Billy including Billy himself. This will give you a better chance to judge the veracity of the allegations made against him.

Another thing I suggest we keep in mind is that one is much smarter looking backwards rather than looking forward. We’ve all been taken in by a polite person with a winning smile only to find out later that evil lurked behind the benign countenance. We then wished we knew then what we eventually discovered. We’ve given money to good causes only to find out they were fronts for crooks. Life is full of mistakes that we could have avoided if we could see into the future.

It is best to avoid judging ourselves for our past mistakes by what we know now. I suggest we look at what we knew then even though it is hard putting yourself back into the prior position. I suggest this because in the Billy Bulger situation, so much of the judgment of him is made from what we know now.

For example, Whitey is accused of 19 murders and some suggest he was involved in many more. Many of us believe that to be the case. But when is it we first decided that? I chased after Whitey for years believing him to be the head of a violent gang without knowing anything specific about his involvement in these murders. There are a handful of people who knew about his murders or back in 1975, 1985 or even 1995. These were the people who did them with him. Looking back we can say perhaps we should have known more, but we do that in light of today’s knowledge. There is evidence that we could have stopped 9/11 from happening when we look back, but we live in an imperfect world so things obvious now had little significance then.

You’ve read about the Boston gang war in the early Sixties between the McLaughlins out of Charlestown and the Buddy McLean’s Somerville guys. A couple of dozen got murdered. Murderman Martorano, Stevie Flemmi, and Frank Salemme were involved in these. Whitey wasn’t, he was in prison for robbery.

Following that the Killeens and Mullins in South Boston had their own war where a dozen got killed. All the while Jerry Anguilo’s Mafia were doing their own killings with the help of the Winter Hill gang.  Few, if any, got convicted for those murders.

It is only when the gangsters joined the 1997 queue to protect themselves by ratting out others that we’ve learned something about them but not the whole truth because gangsters only tell what helps themselves. Murderman Martorano, Brutalman Weeks, Mafia Chief Frankie Salemme and finally Stevie Flemmi made deals with the feds that in exchange for leniency for their murders they’d tell about others involved in them.

Those who excoriate Billy Bulger do so as if we all knew about these murders so he should have known about them. At least it appears that way in the media and books. Truth be told, whatever murders Whitey committed it seems to me Billy would be the last one to know.

Whitey would never had told Billy himself for the simple reason he knew Billy would recoil in horror. He’d also be jeopardizing Billy, his wife, and their nine children. I suggest you keep that clearly in mind. Add to it the fact that the feds have been working to get something on Billy for all the years since the gangsters began ratting each other out and have come up with nothing.

Whitey is known for his disciplined way of life. He stayed in good shape. He avoided excessive alcohol and drug use. He had few friends. He trusted a handful of people. He is said to have eradicated those he did not trust.

It seems self-evident that gangsters like Whitey, Stevie and Murderman knew their safety lied in secrecy. Brutalman Weeks testified Whitey taught him the idea behind committing  a crime is not to be caught. That meant limiting your associates and keeping your mouth shut afterwards.

There is no evidence or facts to support the suggestion that Billy knew his brother had murdered anyone prior to 1997 or 1998 when it became public knowledge. Even then, I assume from reading his autobiography, Billy didn’t believe it.

6 thoughts on “Only His Closest Associates Knew Of Whitey Bulger’s Murders Before Murderman Martorano Made His Deal

  1. In Kevin Weeks’ book he talks about an incident where Whitey and himself are driving along in the rain and they pull up next to someone they had been looking for. They offer the guy a ride and he says something to the effect of “No offense but people who get in that car have a way of disappearing. I think I’ll walk”. After he goes on his way Whitey says “smart guy”. It seems to me that Whitey had quite a reputation, which is how he was so effective in his chosen career, and most people in Southie knew he made his enemies disappear. Billy may have chosen not to believe that his brother was a murderer but it is hard to believe that he didn’t hear what was being said. I don’t think Billy and Whitey had much to do with each others careers and any corruption Billy may or may not have committed had nothing to do with Whitey.

    1. I agree with you Scott that Whitey had quite a reputation in Southie. He seemed to have always been respected not for his good works but because no one thought it was in his interest to disrespect him. To his face, no one called him Whitey. Those who knew him would refer to him as Mr. White so that they wouldn’t accidentally call him Whitey. The respect was born out of fear which came from his reputation for being mean and tough. Books by McKenzie and Shea, both Golden Glover fighters who appear to be able to handle themselves well, indicate that they also had that type respect for Whitey. I’m sure Billy knew some of that. He indicated as much in his autobiography but he also said he hoped much of it was not true. Billy attributed some of the rumors about Whitey as an attempt to attack him rather than having substance in their own right. I believe Billy knew his brother ran the booking operation in Southie, although I cannot substantiate that belief. He’d also have to believe that if he had that type of position he was also into strong arm stuff. I also think Billy had to have heard things from his kids about their uncle, after all, they grew up in Southie. I don’t believe he knew anything about Whitey’s activities from Whitey, but from as you suggest just the general knowledge in the community. I don’t know how he would have known Whitey killed anyone. As I said, it’s not something those gangsters go around talking about, especially a guy like Whitey who didn’t have to brag to make his reputation since it was already made. I agree with you relative to the corruption, if Billy were corrupt, it had nothing to do with Whitey. Thanks for commenting.

  2. my mothers sister lived and worked in south boston for 40 years . from 1961 until she died in 2001. sister suzanne murphy lived in the d street projects and worked at the education center on broadway. billy had 9 children and his brother made millions from the drug trade in the 1980s. did none of that cash money ever make it into billys pocket? did john gottis wife not know about how many people her husband killed ? or she did not ask.you wrote the other day that former gov mike d said this and that about billy. what about a quote from mr odonovan from the mass state police? former congressman joe kennedy said at a st patricks breakfast president reagan does not remember anything and president bulger does not forget anything. billy bulger has blood on his hands from the overdose and murder victims in his distict during the time he was an elected official. i have respect for you and this blog but i will always believe people put their own jobs and lives first but not going after billy harer in the 1980s. billy the triple eagle was the ultimate insider and no one ever said he was not smart

    1. If you go to the corner of West Broadway and D Street you’ll see that it is named after James B. Rogers. He is my godfather. My roots go back to Southie where I was born and most of my extended family live. I agree with you that Whitey made millions in the drug trade if Weeks, Shea and McKenzie are to be believed. Did Whitey ever give Billy an of it? I doubt it, gangsters are notoriously cheap. It’s common knowledge all they live for is money which they only spend on their own enjoyment. Did Whitey give any gifts to Billy’s kids, probably, but I don’t think they were extravagant since Billy’s kids were raised on a tight leash from what I heard, did very well, and weren’t spoiled in any way.
      Did Billy know Whitey was involved in dealing drugs? Doubt it, the rumor on Whitey was that he kept drugs out of South Boston. Did Gotti’s wife know he was a gangster. Probably. Did she know exactly what he did? Probably not. I’m not familiar with what O’Donovan said about Billy Bulger. I knew and interacted with O’Donovan. I’d like to know what he said if you could tell me.
      The quote from Congressman Kennedy was probably a warmed over one. It had often been said of Billy he did not forget anything. That referred to his dealings as a politician. If you made a promise to him and he did something for you in exchange for doing it he expected you to fulfill your side of the deal. If you went against him behind his back he’d make sure you paid for it. Billy didn’t stay as president of the Senate for 17 years without having some really tough battles. It has nothing to do with Whitey. Suggesting Billy has blood on his hands for what Whitey did is the overreach too many people have made. You are suggesting a siblings are responsible for the actions of siblings. Thee is no evidence Billy knew of Whitey’s activities in drug dealing.
      Most people do, as you suggest, put their own jobs and lives first, especially if you want to be a responsible person and have a family to support. That’s why a lot of people get stuck in jobs they hate and are bullied by their bosses and co-workers. As far as people not going after Billy harder in the 1980s, there was nothing to go after him for that I could see. You know the Globe wrote several articles on him during the 1980s that I will write about soon. In none of them is there a mention of Whitey having anything to do with Billy other than the one that talked about how they both led different lives. The idea that Billy had a wrongful connection with Whitey is of recent origin and can be put on Howie Carr who wanted to sell books. (I want to reread Black Mass with this in mind. That came out earlier than Whitey’s book.)
      I agree the FBI seemed to have treated him a little differently than it should have done. The agents seemed to have deferred to him because they hoped some time down the road he might be able to help them get a job. I don’t put that on Billy but the FBI.
      I’m just beginning to write about him so stick with me. Billy was smart, was a triple eagle (did you ever hear of a quadruple eagle – the three BCs and the Marines) and wielded enormous power.
      We probably agree on a lot of things about Billy that may have led us to different conclusions, but that’s what people are all about. That’s why we have hung juries. 12 people hearing the same evidence can sometimes come down 6 for guilty, 6 against. It is also why the US Supreme Court often votes 5 to 4. But bear with me and read the evidence. You may change your mind. Thanks for writing.

  3. Was President Bill Clinton guilty of his brother Roger Clinton’s drug crimes? Was President Jimmy Carter responsible for his brother’s acts? Are Kevin Weeks’ brothers and cousins guilty of his crimes? We don’t have collective guilt in America. That’s a Soviet concept. Hard drugs started coming into South Boston and Dorchester in large quantities in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, while Whitey Bulger was in Alcatraz then, upon release, working as a custodian at the court house. Overdose deaths have been a severe problem in our neighborhoods for forty years. Overdose deaths have increased by fifty-percent in Suffolk County over the last twenty years, while Whitey was a fugitive. Kevin Weeks says Whitey’s role was to extort money from cocaine dealers and marijuana dealers. If Whitey never existed, narcotics and other hard drugs would have flooded South Boston and Dorchester as they’ve flooded most neighborhoods across America. Stick with the facts, Comrade! Dispense with the innuendoes!

    1. Bill Clinton gave out some pardons because of Hillary’s brother representing those people. Jimmy Carter eventually pardoned the squirrel that attacked him when he was out on the lake at his peanut farm. When I was a young lawyer I remember sitting in the house of a cop in Southie talking to his kid who was all strung out on drugs. I’ve never forgotten his father’s agony and the kids indifference. Southie, Dorchester, Roxbury and all the rest of the city has had a drug problem that would have been there even if Whitey never got out of Alcatraz. Blaming Billy for Whitey’s criminal acts is the result of New York Times v. Sullivan that disabled public figures from defending themselves in light of the most egregious slanders. Peace!

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