Bulger letters put his fitness for prison transfer in doubt
BOSTON (AP) — Jailhouse letters from the late Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger appear to contradict federal officials who said his health had dramatically improved, making him eligible for a transfer to the West Virginia prison where he was killed.
The letters provided to The Boston Globe by a California woman he corresponded with highlight a will to live despite deteriorating health, including eight heart attacks.
Bulger was 89 when he was fatally beaten in October. Two other inmates are under suspicion, although no charges have been filed.
Bulger was killed just hours after arriving at the West Virginia prison from a Florida facility and placed in the general population.
In one letter dated February 2018, Bulger wrote, “Dont worry about me. Im too mean to die. ...”
Officials at the Florida prison had requested that Bulger be transferred to a federal medical center, but in April 2018 the Bureau of Prisons rejected the request. In one letter, Bulger appears to expect a transfer to a medical center, saying he was looking forward to “sun sky + fresh air.”
Authorities at the time said Bulger’s health had improved enough since his conviction in 2013 for his role in the deaths of 11 people.
The Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on its handling of Bulger when asked by the Globe, saying in a statement that it wanted to protect the integrity of an ongoing investigation into his death.
In the letters to Candace Lind, Bulger chronicled a list of ailments. He wrote that he routinely took nitro pills and oxygen to ease chest pains, relied on a wheelchair, and had recently been rushed from the Florida penitentiary to a hospital for emergency treatment.
Lind began writing to Bulger in 2014 because he had had a long friendship with her late father, Alver Bloomquist, who supervised the prison laundry at Alcatraz when Bulger served time there in the late 1950s and early ’60s.
Bulger wrote to her that he wanted to live long enough to again see his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, with whom he spent 17 years on the run before their 2011 capture in Santa Monica, California. Greig was convicted of helping Bulger evade capture and is due to be released from prison next year.
The letters also detail some apparent crimes, including firing bullets into The Globe’s former headquarters in 1974 because he was upset at the newspaper’s coverage of his South Boston neighborhood’s opposition to school busing.
In one letter he said, “I took the wrong road once and never got off it,” and in another marveled at the fact he had lived so long while so many of his friends had died violently.