Today, some, such as Daria Kinsella, of South Boston, still recall him that way:
“He was good friends with my grandfather and my grandmother. He always helped us out if anything needed,” she said.
Bulger in the 1970s and 80s had a reputation that was both fearsome and simultaneously altruistic: Indeed he was known in parts of working class South Boston as the “Robin Hood” of the community.
Bulger fought hard and dirty to maintain his reputation as a guy you did not want to mess with, and he also nurtured the belief of Whitey Bulger as a beacon of stability in South Boston’s insular community.
He was known for shooting his enemies and taking care of his friends, but of all the beliefs that swirls around this now 83-year-old man, the three myths that he is still fighting hard to cement into the public record as truths are the following:
A) He did not kill women.
B) He fought to keep drugs out of the community.
C) He was not an informant.
All three beliefs about Whitey Bulger have been challenged over the course of this trial both inside and outside courtroom.
This is the latest myth to be challenged by witnesses for the prosecution. In testimony Monday, Steve "The Rifleman" Flemmi, Bulger ‘s former partner in crime testified that Bulger insisted on killing Deborah Hussey, a woman whom Flemmi had raised as his own child, and whom the defense said he molested.
Flemmi said he reluctantly agreed and drove Hussey to a house on E Street in South Boston where Bulger was waiting. It was January 1985. Flemmi testified that Bulger “stepped out from behind the top of the basement stairs, grabbed her by the throat and started strangling her. It didn’t take long. She was a very fragile woman.”
Flemmi, Bulger, and Weeks buried her in the basement. Bulger denies killing Hussey and another woman, Debra Davis. But Davis’s brother Steve said during the trial that he has no doubt that both Bulger and Flemmi murdered his sister
John “Red” Shea, grew up in South Boston in the Old Colony Projects. He became one of the biggest drug dealers in all of South Boston, and thus was in a position to challenge Bulger’s claim that he fought to keep drugs out of the community.
“Cocaine was the drug of choice. And, Whitey was the boss and Whitey was making money for many years off of that," he said.
And the story that Bulger is most intent on telling or re-writing –depending on who you believe---is that he was never an informer. But throughout the Bulger trial, witness after witness has taken the stand to say hat the former head of the Winter Hill Gang was an informant. And, any belief to the contrary is make believe, said Tommy Donahue, the outspoken son of a man allegedly murdered by Bulger:
“A lot of these people looked up to Bulger like he was some hero,” he said. “To find out that he was an informant and ratting people out and killing people and getting away with it- it makes him look like the scum that he is.”
Irrespective of the testimony in this trial, the reality of Bulger will continues to clash with the myth of the man who ruled South Boston for decades. Some believe Bulger left an indelible mark on this community that will be difficult to rub off completely.