Re-Examining Whitey Bulger: The Early Years: Start of the Killeen Mullen War: Part Seven

The Bride Over
Fort Point Channel

I had to go back to Ralph Ranalli’s book Deadly Alliance which I recommended in the early days of this blog to refresh my recollection about an FBI report.  Ranalli wrote one of the earliest of the Bulger books which he put together after attending the hearing held by Judge Wolf in late 1997 and 1998.  It is a general overview by a good writer that is off the mark in several important areas. Since I started a more in-depth study of these matter and gained a greater insight, Ranalli pretty much puts out the black and white government and media mindset that everything relating to Bulger is evil, although he does suggest the FBI is no slacker when it comes to doing evil deeds.

It is little wonder because many of his sources are media people, prosecutors and their investigators. Ranalli lists his five most helpful sources. First is the FBI agent Robert Fitzpatrick who broke his solemn duty of protecting an informant’s identity by divulging to the media that Bulger was an informant.  He wrote an inane book full of inaccuracies. He clearly demonstrated he hated all things Bulger. His description of a meeting with Billy Bulger would border on the hilarious if it wasn’t written by a person who at the time was an Assistant Agent in Charge of the Boston FBI office which makes it tragic. The other four most helpful sources were two investigators of the Roger Wheeler homicide in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and two attorneys for the gangsters, Tony Cardinale, who represented Frank Salemme, and Ken Fishman, who represented Steve Flemmi, the latter two with obvious anti-Bulger biases.

My foray back into it was to again read memos from FBI Agent Dennis Condon which went to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. The first was in mid-May 1971. Hoover would die within a year on May 1, 1972. Condon told of a meeting with Whitey saying he was “employed by Suffolk County, Mass. in maintenance department.” Whitey had suggested to Condon he thought his life was in danger.

I mentioned earlier Whitey had left his janitor’s job with Suffolk after working less than a year back in 1967 or 1968. Condon reports him as being employed in it as of 1971. We do know he was kept on the payroll but not being paid up until 1978 when he was removed by John E. Powers. This resulted in a little brouhaha between two Southie pols, Powers and Billy Bulger.

My take on this is that Whitey left the job in 1968 but stayed on the payroll without being paid because he needed to report a legitimate occupation to the federal parole people.  I have a hard time believing he showed up for work up until 1971. By that time he was fully employed in the South Boston rackets by Donald Killeen.

The first part of Whitey’s early year ended when he left the courthouse job. The second part involved the so-called Killeen/Mullen war (K/M) over the South Boston rackets. This war has achieved legendary status in Southie even though it paled in comparison to the earlier Irish War between the McLean/McLaughlin gangs where it is estimated 50 were killed.

On the Killeen side were the Killeen brothers, Donald, Kenneth and Edward, Whitey, Jack Curran and Billy O’Sullivan; on the Mullen side were Dennis (Buddy) Roache, Pat Nee, Jimmy Lydon, Francis (Buddy) Leonard, Tommy King, Mickey Dwyer and its leader Paulie McGonagle. The Mullen gang was named after the place where they hung out: John Joseph Mullen Square at O and East Second Street, South Boston. (Books on Whitey call the gang Mullin, misspelling the name. One book by Carr doesn’t even know the name of the gang calling it the McGonagles.)

The K/M war which was brewing for a while broke out in 1969. Some suggest it started when Pat Nee’s brother Peter Nee was gunned down in April, 1969. But that had nothing to do with it. Peter’s death resulted from a beer induced argument among a handful of Southie guys in the Coachman bar on East Broadway.  A couple of them left angry and one, Kevin Dailey, returned and used a small .22 caliber to murder Peter and wound Bobby McGonagle. Because Peter was the brother of Pat Nee, and Bobby of Paulie McGongle, people inferred the killings were part of the K/M war rather than the booze. Pat Nee would hunt down Kevin Daily and seriously wound him on November 10, 1969.

The K/M shooting war began in July 1969 when Kenny Killeen shot Mickey Dwyer in the arm and bit off a piece of his nose at the Transit Café near Broadway in Southie. The Mullens went looking for Kenny seeking to get revenge. The die had been cast.  Whitey would be active in this war as we will see tomorrow.


  1. J Killeen, get in touch if possible. Would appreciate if you could enlighten me on the Killeen family whereabouts and happening

  2. Your article is very inaccurate, peter Nee was gunned down in the early 80’s outside his own bar “On Broadway” for one thing and did not die in 1969 as you say.
    Just saying, and if you find something that far off it is very easy to pick up that you actually know ZERO of what your writing about. I can imagine you used newspaper stories and whatever rumor you picked up from braggarts.

    • szootman:

      Thanks for the information. As to what I know or don’t know I let my writing speak for itself. I don’t pretend to know other than what I have set forth. If you have contradictory information as others have had you are welcome to note them here. I don’t claim infallibility.

      My dates on the Nee murder were taken from the book by Pat Nee. You may want to check this source: “That article says it happened in April 1969 outside of the Coachman then to Cassidy’s Bar and up to the Iron Fort across from Gate of Heaven Church..” I wasn’t there, of course, so I do rely on other people to provide that information. I’m not sure who the braggarts are who you are talking about.

      Maybe we’re talking about another Peter Nee but it seems to me his brother’s information is something I should be able to rely on. Glad to have you aboard.

      • Mtc, you got it right, Pats’ brother Peter was shot and killed at the Coachman @ 69/70.No enemies just a bunch of pals out drinking, an argument ensued, three of them left and came back.It’s common knowledge that Kevin Dailey was the shooter, he went away for it. His pals were Tommy and Phil. No need to listtheir last names.I lived 2 blocks from the Coachman at the time and I do know members of all of the families and most of them are wonderful people. Every family has one..

        • Mark:

          Thanks for the personal information. It’s always great to get it from someone who was there. Also, appreciate you pointing out that many of the families were wonderful people and the gangsters were not an example of the family they came from.

    • Hey szoot you got it wrong. Pats’ brother Peter was shot and killed at the Coachman @69-70. I lived a block away and I know the players (not involved with them), but I do know them. I believe there was another Nee from the lower end who you may be thinking of. I do know the Nee family and my timeline is accurate

  3. What else do you know about the killeens? Everyone knows about the story of the nose getting bit off and the fueding with the mullens. And whitey learning the rackets from donnie then setting him up to be killed so he could move up the later but what about before that? According to pat nee the killeen brothers ran the show in southie for 20 plus years. They owned a few bars and all the bookmaking and loan sharking ran through them. They managed to keep things running through the the first irish gang war. Most old timers said they were stand up guys toys for the kids on xmas free turkeys on thanksgiving. Any photos, police/fbi reports on them before the early 70s i know george killeen was murdered in 1950 in the north end supposedly over a girl or wrong place wrong time thing. Anyways just wondering like the website nice job

    • No Name:
      I don’t think it was in Whitey’s interest to set up Donnie. He was doing all right under him and had no need to jump into the top spot. If it was his intent to become boss of the Killeen’s group he would have killed both Donnie and then his brother, Kenny. There were four Killeens, three died violent deaths. You mentioned Donald. George was shot in the North End in 1950; Edward was shot in the stomach four years later and he took his own life; Donnie and Kenny. When Kenny left the rackets that just made Whitey a bigger target and caused him to make peace with the Mullens. Donnie would never have done that, as best I can tell. I don’t buy into the Whitey turned traitor story. I think Nee tells it as close to the truth as it can be. Where I have trouble with Nee is when he’s talking about some of the murders which I’ve heard alleged he was involved in. Then he strays from the truth. Otherwise, he’s almost believable absent a decent alternative theory. I’m trying to reach out to get more information on this inner Southie war.
      As far as the big Irish war, I don’t think it impacted Southie – it was mainly guys from Roxbury, Dorchester, Charlestown and Somerville, Irish, Italian and some other ethnics. I don’t know what Donnie’s role was in keeping it out of Southie

      • Very interesting article. They were my great uncles. My grandfather jim, the oldest, has always been left out of any of the stories.

        To answer no name, they really were stand up guys.

        • J. Kileen,

          Thanks for the comment. Maybe you can let us in on some family secrets.

        • I am looking for information as to the origin of the Killeen family, i.e. When did they come over from Ireland? And do you know from what town, county, etc? I have cousins named Killeen in Ireland.

          • Kathleen:

            There is only one person around who would know that and it is Whitey Bulger. Sorry but I can’t help but thanks for inquiring.

          • I also am a Killeen. I was wondering if they may have came from Galway county. This where me family all came from. Some are still living in that area.

        • Hey J, My dad grew up in the lower end and knew all the Killeens. I worked at Boston Edison and knew your grandfather, he was a great guy. He was a fair man, always looked for the best in everyone, if you crossed him ,well shame on you. We could use more guys like Jim Killeen inour world today, but he’s to busy making birdies high above us

          • Mark G
            Would you happen to know where in Ireland the Killeen’s might
            have orig. came from. My family all came from Galway County.
            I’ve been to Ireland tracing ancestors and have found many of
            My ancestors.