§14: Re-Examining Whitey Bulger: The Learning Years: Whitey Begins With Winter Hill

An Unhappy Sea

Objective evidence should control our analysis of Whitey’s life. It is gained and buttressed by an understanding developed by growing up among and associating with people like these criminals, spending years chasing after them, knowing how they think, and utilizing outside and independent documentation where possible. It is not the tales offered by criminals looking for sweetheart deals or authors trying to sensationalize their stories. The objective evidence contradicts the stories made up by these authors and gangster who have spun false tales of Whitey’s life. Despite their inferences or assertions otherwise, at the beginning of 1973 Whitey was far from being in a leadership position of Winter Hill. A quick review will show this.

According to newspaper reports Donny Killeen, Whitey’s boss, was killed in May 1972. This was done by the Mullens not by Whitey as some authors allege. In September 1972 another newspaper report tells of Kenny Killeen having a shotgun fired at him as he sat on the porch of his Marine Street home in South Boston. This makes him pull out of the rackets. Whitey would not need to do this. If he wanted Kenny’s job he was in daily contact with him and could have just told him. The upshot of Kenny’s departure left Whitey, the remaining top gun, as the leader of that group.

He was facing a much tougher opponent in the Mullens. He knew he needed to come to an accommodation with them.  A newspaper report dated July 5, 1973, by the Boston Globe’s John Cullen stated that a “Loose merger between two Southie factions has emerged after a year of secret negotiations. Four weeks ago the Mullins(sic) and Killeen gangs ended their 18 month war by accepting a compromise and merged operations. New leadership of operation will move from Southie to underworld operatives of Winter Hill, Somerville.” This would place the peace agreement to the very late spring of 1973.

Pat Nee of South Boston one of the big guns in the powerful Mullen gang who I believe tells the truth in his book, except for those time where doing that may involve himself or his living friends in a murder, recalls the meeting that ended the shooting between the Killeen and Mullen groups as taking place in very late fall 1972, “one of those mornings when you can taste winter directly over your shoulder.” Nee is now tasting the start of the eight decade of his life over his shoulder and like the rest of us, his memory looking back 35 or so years may be a few months off.  Perhaps it was a late spring morning as indicated by the newspaper, the only written contemporaneous account.

Nee tells how at that time the big crime bosses in Eastern Massachusetts, Mafia underboss Gerry Angiulo, and Winter Hill boss Howie Winter, had never heard of Whitey. He explains,“Whitey rarely crossed the bridges out of Southie for any criminal activity. He couldn’t, because Howie and Gerry controlled it all.” As we’ve heard from Murderman Martorano who was part of Howie Winter’s mob and ran with the vicious Roxbury group that controlled both Roxbury and the South End, areas bordering on South Boston, he had no idea what was happening in South Boston or who Whitey was until around the time of the peace sit down.

When you read the books about Whitey, and even Murderman’s account, no one addresses the great paradox: How is it a person who everyone considers a “nobody” suddenly assumes the leadership of the worst of the worst gangsters in the Greater Boston area. Murderman Martorano has him jumping in and immediately deciding who will be part of the Winter Hill gang. I’d accept it possibly, only possibly, could happen if he came in with a big reputation and a series of slash marks on his sleeves denoting past kills but Whitey hadn’t killed anyone and was considered hardly more than a court jester by these veteran murderers. Some were not happy with the association. Murderman tells us that Joe McDonald never got around to trusting Whitey.

Even in the underworld things have to make sense. In fact, it is more necessary that they do there rather than any place else because one’s life or freedom may depend on it. No one with Whitey’s background gets trusted, never mind being  put in control, without a long testing period. You have to earn the trust of tough gangsters who depend on the loyalty of their friends for their freedom.


  1. “Objective evidence should control our analysis of Whitey’s life”. This statement I would assume should include all the evidence that the prosecutor have discovered, and to include credible facts that have been put into the public record to include your current blog?

    • Jean:
      The more we know the better informed we can become. By objective I mean we have to examine the motives of the persons making the allegation to see whether there is a reason why it may be slanted one way or the other.