Bulger’s death was the third murder at the Hazelton Correctional Complex in the past seven months, Boston 25 News has learned.
In a phone interview with Boston 25 News, the Hazelton staff’s union president, Jeremy Hildreth, said the prison is understaffed and violent.
“I’m concerned that this is the third homicide – the third murder in seven months at our facility,” Hildreth said. “From what I understand it was a murder. I don’t have the details of it…this is a very violent facility and always has been.”
Hildreth says there has been a concern about a lack of staff for some time. He says people who have been hired to work in other areas of the facility, like electricians or teachers, will often be assigned to work as officers for the day.
“The US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia and the FBI will be conducting an investigation into the death of James Bulger. No other information will be released at this time,” a spokesperson for William J. Powell, the US attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, said.
Prison officials only said Bulger was found unresponsive around 8:20 a.m. and was later pronounced dead.
The announcement of his death and the ensuing investigation oddly juxtapose with his arrival at the West Virginia prison.
“We do not disclose specifics regarding inmate movement or transfers, nor do we discuss specific conditions of confinement. We cannot comment on an investigation. Any questions regarding the ongoing investigation should be directed to the FBI,” a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons told Boston 25 News in an email.
USP Hazelton is also home to Fotios Geas, a former mobster hit man with ties to Springfield, Mass., and Paul Weadick, who was recently found guilty of strangling a nightclub owner in 1993.
Weadick, 63, was a co-defendant alongside “Cadillac” Frank Salemme in the murder of Stephen DiSarro.
Geas, 51, was found guilty of playing a role in the murder of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno.
Bulger was found unresponsive Tuesday morning at USP Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, where he had just arrived the night before.
According to Newsweek reporter Michelle McPhee, who broke the news of Bulger’s death, the 89-year-old mobster was beaten to death in a wheelchair at the prison.
Between 1956 and 1965, Bulger served time in federal prison for armed robbery. And in the early 1970s climbed the ranks of the Winter Hill gang, an Irish-American crime mob in the Boston area.
In 1975, Whitey agreed to become an FBI informant, providing information about the Italian Mafia in exchange for protection from prosecution.
Celebrity news site TMZ reported Bulger’s attackers attempted to gouge out his eyes but were unsuccessful. According to Peter Davidson, the author of a tell-all book about the mob, “Civilian witnesses who talked to the police or prosecutors would have their eyes gouged out.”
No information has been officially released about the investigation into Bulger’s death and officials involved in the investigation have not officially confirmed Bulger was killed in prison.
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