James 'Whitey' Bulger dead after transfer to prison in West Virginia

BOSTON — Notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger is dead.

Bulger died just a day after being transferred to Hazelton Prison in West Virginia. He was found unresponsive by staff around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. A resuscitation attempt was made, but Bulger was later pronounced dead.

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified and an investigation has been initiated," a statement from the Federal Bureau of Prisons read. "No staff or other inmates were injured, and at no time was the public in danger."

The online inmate log on Tuesday morning listed Bulger as an inmate at USP Hazelton, a high-security prison with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia.

A source told Boston 25 News Bulger arrived Monday night and was placed in general population before he was found unresponsive.

"All this does is reopen all the wounds again," Tommy Donahue, the son of one of Bulger's victims, told Boston 25 News. "The world is a much better place and a much safer place without Whitey Bulger in it."

Bulger, 89, had recently been moved through a transfer facility in Oklahoma.

Investigators may only have to look as far back as this year's murder trial of South Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro.

Former New England mafia boss Frank Salemme and associate Paul Weadick were convicted for the DiSarro murder this year, and Bulger’s one-time partner Stephen Flemmi was the star witness against them.

Now, Bulger was found dead at the same prison where Weadick is serving time.

In 1995, Bulger fled Boston after being tipped off by his former FBI contact John Connolly. This event helped inspire the Oscar-winning movie, "The Departed." For 16 years, Bulger remained at large, and in 1999, he was added to the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted list facing 19 charges on murder. At the time, Osama Bin Laden was also on the list.

He was captured in Santa Monica, California, in 2011.

"The guy that did this, I would go put money in his canteen account," Tommy Donahue said on Boston 25 News. "I know what kind of person he probably is and I know he's probably a bad person, but I'd go put money in his canteen for helping my family move on."

Donahue's father Michael was at a bar in Boston's Seaport District in May of 1982 when his neighbor Brian Halloran asked him for a ride home to Dorchester.

"They went outside the bar and they got in the car," Donahue said. "As they continued to pull out, Whitey Bulger and a couple of his colleagues pulled up next to him and shot and killed them both."

Donahue and his brothers lost a father, while Patricia Donahue lost a husband.

"He ruined my life, definitely," Patricia Donahue said. "I could never forgive him for that."

Tommy Donahue said, after the torment he and his family have gone through, he hopes the death was anything but painless.

"I hope he suffered, of course I hope he suffered," Donahue said. "My family has been suffering for over 36 years."

Bulger's brother, former Senate president William Bulger, slipped into his house while ignoring questions from Boston 25 News reporter Bob Ward, as West Virginia investigators continue to examine how Bulger's death occurred.

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.

Bulger was serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2013 of a litany of crimes, including participating in 11 murders.

Bulger was born in Boston in 1929. His mother was a first-generation Irish immigrant.

This would be the third inmate killed in Hazelton Prison in seven months.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons released the following statement:

Inmate Death at United States Penitentiary Hazelton
Bruceton Mills, WV: On Tuesday, October 30, 2018, at approximately 8:20 a.m., inmate James Bulger was found unresponsive at the United States Penitentiary (USP) Hazelton, in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. Life-saving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff. Mr. Bulger was subsequently pronounced dead by the Preston County Medical Examiner.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified and an investigation has been initiated. No staff or other inmates were injured, and at no time was the public in danger.

Mr. Bulger was an 89 year-old male who was sentenced in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts to a Life sentence for Racketeering Conspiracy, Racketeering, Extortion Conspiracy, Money Laundering, Possession of Unregistered Machine Guns, Transfer and Possession of Machine Guns, Possession of Firearms with Obliterated Serial Numbers, and Possession of Machine Guns in Furtherance of a Violent Crime. He had been in custody at USP Hazelton since October 29, 2018.

USP Hazelton is a high security facility that currently houses 1,270 male offenders at Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Hazelton.

Additional information about the Federal Bureau of Prisons can be found at

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