NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t



The remarkable story of gangster Whitey Bulger begins in the housing projects of South Boston and ends with his capture by the FBI in 2011 after his 16 years on the lam. By then, Bulger was wanted for 19 murders, extortion and loan sharking for leading a criminal enterprise in Boston from the 1970s until 1995. During much of that time he was also an informant and being protected by the FBI. In their new book, Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice, Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy trace the trajectory of Bulger’s career in crime and his relationship with the FBI. They covered him for years for the Globe, and say Bulger got going early. “Whitey talked about when he was 16 years old, he was in the back of a precinct house in South Boston, and he said a police officer jammed a gun in his mouth, and the police officer was leaning so close to him he could smell the liquor on his breath,” Cullen tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies. “Even at that tender age of 16, Whitey was clearly in the fast life, in the criminal life, and that sort of began that confrontational attitude he had with authority right there.” Cullen, who also grew up in South Boston and knew the FBI agent who was Bulger’s handler from childhood, was the first to raise questions about Bulger’s relationship with the FBI. “I got a call from an FBI agent named Tom Daly,” says Cullen. “He said that he had heard from one of his informants who was now in the witness protection program that we were going to do this story and that we were going to name Whitey Bulger as an informant. The agent told me that, ‘It’s not true, and that if you report something that’s not true Whitey will not live with that.’ He said, ‘He would think nothing of clipping you, Kevin, and you know — you lived there.’ ” Bulger was apprehended in California in 2011. He now faces murder charges in a trial in June. MORE