Florida hoping to try Bulger for 1982 murder
MIAMI (WSVN) -- A South Florida family may be closer to getting justice after a 16-year manhunt comes to an end.
James "Whitey" Bulger, a notorious Boston mob boss who inspired Jack Nicholson's character in the Martin Scorsese movie "The Departed" got a not-so-Hollywood ending after FBI agents arrested him late Wednesday.
Bulger had been on the top of the FBI's most wanted list, and he faces a long list of charges up north, but his alleged crime spree also reaches as far south as Miami.
Bulger had been dodging a murder indictment in Miami during his 16 years on the run before he was found in Santa Monica, California. Now, the question is whether he will wind up in South Florida considering he could face death.
Bulger had been able to remain one step ahead of the feds who were on his tail for a string of murders. It was a life, according to investigators, that began with his role in the Boston mob and ended with him running from murder charges in that city as well as a murder indictment in Miami.
The reach of Bulger's criminal empire could indeed be felt right here in Miami. Back to 2008, a former FBI agent who had connections to Bulger was convicted of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors say John Connolly accepted money from Bulger and helped him evade authorities. In 1981, prosecutors believe, an executive at Miami Jai-Alai, John Callahan, went to Bulger's gang to take out the owner, Roger Wheeler, after a business dealing went sour. Wheeler was shot to death in 1981.
After the assassination, the former FBI man, Connolly, say prosecutors, felt Callahan was going to give up Bulger to the feds. He told Bulger of his concerns, according to prosecutors.
A year later, Callahan was gunned down. His body was found at Miami International Airport. Prosecutors believe Bulger was behind this murder as well.
Connolly was convicted by a Miami-Dade jury, yet he always maintained his innocence. "It's heart breaking," he said in court. "I'm here."
Now Connolly is sitting in prison and Bulger escaped prosecution ... until now. Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle released a statement regarding the arrest of Bulger that read in part: "James 'Whitey' Bulger's criminal activities have been marked by the corpses his killers and associates have left behind in car trunks and alleyways. After a 16-year delay, I will be working to ensure that a Miami Jury has the opportunity to look him in the eyes and determine his fate just as we did with his associate, ex-FBI agent John J. Connolly, Jr."
So who will have the first crack at the 81-year-old? He is wanted for a laundry list of murders in the Boston area and Oklahoma. Oklahoma and Florida have the death penalty and that may play a part in the final decision.
No one knows where Bulger will wind up, but prosecutors locally say this is a good day, as they now know their man is behind bars.
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