Murders by "Whitey" Bulger How they impacted American law and Culture

James "Whitey" Bulger will forever live in infamy.

Black Mass was a great film, though I doubt the majority of the people who went to the theaters to see it did so because they knew of the source material. The most probable reason for it's success was it having cast internationally renowned actor Johnny Depp as the lead role. Most people haven't even heard the name James Bulger, and if they had heard of the character it would most likely have been his moniker "Whitey" Bulger, even then, the name meant nothing, it would have went directly to the back of their head and been largely forgotten. This was not the case in the late 1900's, the mention of "Whitey" alone sent trembles throughout the city of Boston, among normal citizens and even the most ruthless mobsters alike, even the most vicious mobster in Boston couldn't match up to Bulger during his prime, when he commanded sole leadership of the Winter Hill Gang. Bulger used his political connections, position as an FBI informant and merciless gang to rise to power, destroying other gangs, and taking control of the crime industry throughout Boston from 1975 to 1990. Despite his relative anonymity, James "Whitey" Bulger left a massive standing impact on modern American culture and law, he changed the way the American people view the mobster culture, even if they don't quite know it.

Johnny Depp portrayed as "Whitey" Bulger

Who was "Whitey"? Born James Joseph Bulger Jr. on the third of September, 1929 in Dorchester, Massachusetts just before the beginning of the Great Depression. "Whitey" was the nickname the Boston Police Department gave him, he earned it because of his stark white hair, which he became easily recognizable by, though he preferred his friends called him Jimmy. He grew up poor, as we know desperate times call for desperate measures and young Bulger was forced to begin his life of crime at the young age of fourteen, a time when young boys should be out playing with their friends, getting into trouble for bad grades and being mean to their younger siblings. He was first arrested for stealing, but it soon escalated to crimes such as larceny, forgery, assault and battery, and even so far as armed robbery. For these crimes he was arrested, and served five years in juvenile detention. Upon his release he joined the United States Air Force where he served even more time in a military jail for assault and was subsequently arrested for going AWOL. Despite all of this he was honorably discharged in 1952. After his return to Boston he became known as one of the most ruthless and violent gangsters to ever walk the streets of Boston.

An image taken of a FBI Most Wanted posted in 2002

Bulger committed hundreds of heinous crimes across his career, ranging from petty theft and assault, all the way to torture and murder, he was known for chaining his enemies to chairs and beating them to get the information out of them, only to ultimately kill them, he was also no stranger to gunning his opponents down in public, making an example out of them by murdering them in broad daylight, while they're walking on the sidewalk, or while they drive their car, or even in the middle of bars or crowded nightclubs. He had no remorse for any of his victims, and no limit on what he would do to get what he wanted. Bulger was convicted of 13 murders, though he was suspected of 19, and had probably killed many more. His victims showed he had no bias, he killed men and women of any age, and though there are no records of any acts against children it would be of no surprise if he had killed children too. His murder spree lasted from 1974 all the way to 1985. The 13 people he was convicted of killing are listed below.

-Paul “Paulie” McGonagle-Rival gang member, shot in 1974.

-Edward Connors-Bulger feared he would talk to authorities, shot in 1975.

-Thomas “Tommy” King-Rival gang member, shot in 1975.

-Richard Castucci-Suspected informant, strangled in 1976.

-Roger Wheeler-Suspected of money laundering, shot in 1981.

-Brian Halloran-Rival FBI informant, gunned down in public in 1982.

-Michael Donahue-Halloran’s neighbor, collateral of Halloran’s murder in 1982.

-John Callahan-Suspected informant, killed by one of Bulger’s hitmen in 1982.

-Arthur “Bucky” Barrett-Jewel thief, Bulger tortured him to death in 1983.

-John McIntyre-Suspected informant, Bulger tortured him to death in 1984.

-Deborah Hussey-Drug abuser and name dropper, strangled in 1985.

Bulger was convicted of killing these, but he was suspected of killing more and definitely would have killed more if not for the fact that he was forced into hiding due to the FBI and the DEA cracking down on him.

Michael Donahue-1982
Deborah Hussey-1985
Roger Wheeler-1981

Bulger had a lasting impact on American law and the enforcement against violent criminals and drug distributors, and even though his case was recent and he was only convicted just five years ago his arrest and his bringing to justice has changed many things in modern law, he changed the way violent criminals are ranked among the most wanted list, he changed how FBI informants are handled, someone can no longer just become an informant and be granted federal immunity, if laws are broken then the criminal is punished, regardless of political connection or prior aid to the government. Along with his affect on American law he also has had an important influence on American culture, and changed the way many Americans view gangsters and mob culture, even if many don't know his name off the top of their head they would recognize the infamous moniker "Whitey" and his exploits across Boston throughout the 70's and 80's.

James "Whitey" Bulgar will forever live in infamy.

Bulger's mugshot upon his capture and arrest (2011)

Sources Editors, "Whitey Bulger Biography",, A&E Television Networks, 18 August 2016, 8 December 2016

-"A Look at the 19 Murder Victims in Bulger Trial", USA Today, The Associated Press, circa 2013

-Georgia Stasinopoulos, "America's Most Wanted Informant:The FBI and the Case of Whitey Bulger", Harvard Law School:The Case Studies, Philip Heymann, circa 2015

-Amy Padnani and Katharine Q. Seelye, "Whitey Bulger:The Capture of a Legend", The New York Times, The New York Times Company, circa 2014

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