According to NBC News, James “Whitey” Bulger, the infamous mob boss from Boston whose life inspired various gangster movies starring the likes of Jack Nicholson (his role in The Departed) and Johnny Depp (who played Bulger in the Black Mass biopic), was found dead at a federal prison in West Virginia on Tuesday. The 89-year-old inmate had reportedly just been moved to the new location, the high-security penitentiary USP Hazelton, leading some local reports to suggest that the leader of the Winter Hill Gang may have been murdered.
The latter, which comes from WPRI in Rhode Island, cites Richard Heldreth, the president of the Hazelton correctional officers union. He reportedly said he could “confirm there was a homicide this morning.” What’s more, Heldreth added, “this [was] the third homicide in seven months at our facility,” which “[is] very understaffed.” Two other sources also reportedly told the outlet that “Bulger was killed at the prison.”
Even so, NBC News is reporting otherwise. The network’s justice correspondent, Pete Williams, said in a televised segment said that “there are local reports that Bulger was murdered at the prison, but the people we’ve been talking to can’t confirm that.” So until WPRI’s report and others like it can be confirmed or disproved, all that we know for sure about Bulger’s death at this time is that he was found dead at Hazelton on Tuesday.
Danielle Waugh of NBC Boston has tweeted a statement from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which confirms that Bulger was “found unresponsive” and later pronounced dead at Hazelton.
UPDATE: NBC News is now reporting that Bulger “was killed,” adding that the FBI has launched an investigation into the matter.