CNN  — 

Here’s a look at the life of longtime fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger, who was found guilty of racketeering and involvement in 11 killings.


Birth date: September 3, 1929

Death date: October 30, 2018

Birth place: Dorchester, Massachusetts

Birth name: James Joseph Bulger Jr.

Father: James Joseph Bulger Sr., a laborer

Mother: Jane Veronica “Jean” (McCarthy) Bulger

Children: with Lindsey Cyr: Douglas Glenn, 1967-1973

Military Service: US Air Force, 1948-1952

Other Facts

Nicknamed “Whitey” as a child because of his white-blond hair.

His son, Douglas Cyr, died at age six from Reye’s Syndrome, an allergic reaction to aspirin.

Federal prosecutors say Bulger led south Boston’s Winter Hill gang from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s.


1943 - Arrested for the first time, at age 14, for larceny.

1956-1965 - Serves time in federal prison for armed robbery.

Early 1970s - Climbs the ranks of the Winter Hill gang, the preeminent Irish-American crime syndicate in the Boston area.

1975 - Agrees to become an FBI informant, providing information about the Italian Mafia in exchange for protection from prosecution.

1979 - Multiple Winter Hill gang members are arrested for race-fixing, including the leader Howie Winter, which allows Bulger to assume leadership.

January 1995 - Flees an impending racketeering indictment after former FBI handler John Connolly tips Bulger off to the charges, an event that helped inspire the Oscar-winning 2006 drama “The Departed.”

1999 - Added to the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list, facing charges in 19 murders.

June 22, 2011 - After 16 years on the lam, is arrested in Santa Monica, California, along with his girlfriend Catherine Elizabeth Greig.

July 6, 2011 - Pleads not guilty to a 32-count racketeering indictment, including involvement in 19 killings, extortion, money-laundering and weapons charges.

August 18, 2011 - Bulger’s companion, Greig, pleads not guilty to charges of harboring and concealing Bulger.

March 14, 2012 - Greig pleads guilty to one charge of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive and two counts of identity theft.

June 12, 2012 - Greig is sentenced to eight years in federal prison for identity fraud and helping Bulger avoid capture.

March 4, 2013 - A federal judge rules that Bulger can be prosecuted for murders committed after agreeing to an immunity deal with the FBI in the 1970s. Bulger’s attorneys were hoping to have the case dismissed because of the immunity agreement.

March 14, 2013 - Judge Richard Stearns is removed from the Bulger case by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. Stearns had previously worked for the criminal division of the US Attorney’s Office in Boston, which focused on organized crime. Bulger’s defense argued that Judge Stearns would not be impartial.

March 15, 2013 - US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper is named to replace Judge Stearns.

May 2, 2013 - Judge Casper rules that Bulger cannot claim that federal law enforcement officials granted him immunity from prosecution at his upcoming trial.

May 17, 2013 - An appeals court upholds Greig’s eight-year prison sentence.

June 4, 2013 - Jury selection begins in Bulger’s trial.

June 12, 2013 - Opening statements begin.

August 2, 2013 - Bulger announces he won’t testify because he “didn’t get a fair trial” and the trial was “a sham.”

August 5, 2013 - Closing arguments are presented, and the jury begins deliberations the next day.

August 12, 2013 - After deliberating more than 32 hours over five days, the jury finds Bulger guilty on 31 of 32 counts, including federal racketeering and conspiracy to commit federal racketeering.

November 14, 2013 - Is sentenced to two life terms plus five years.

August 14, 2014 - Attorneys for Bulger file a formal appeal of his 2013 conviction.

September 18, 2014 - CNN Films’ “Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger” premieres on CNN.

September 18, 2015 - The biopic “Black Mass,” starring Johnny Depp as Bulger, hits theaters.

February 3, 2016 - Greig pleads guilty to one count of federal criminal contempt, for failing to provide information on others who might have helped Bulger while he avoided authorities for 16 years.

March 4, 2016 - A federal appeals court rejects Bulger’s request for a new trial.

April 28, 2016 - Greig is sentenced to 21 months in prison for contempt of court. Greig is already serving an eight-year sentence for helping Bulger avoid police.

June 25, 2016 - Auctioned items seized from Bulger’s Santa Monica, California, apartment raise $109,295 to compensate families of the victims.

August 11, 2016 - Attorneys for Bulger petition the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of his 2013 conviction.

October 3, 2016 - The Supreme Court declines to hear Bulger’s appeal.

October 30, 2018 - Bulger is brutally beaten in a fatal attack at the Hazelton prison in West Virginia a day after being transferred to the maximum-security institution. He was found unresponsive at 8:20 a.m., and was pronounced dead after failed lifesaving measures, prison officials say. The FBI is investigating.

April 25, 2019 - Bulger’s death certificate is released. It reveals that he was killed by blunt force injuries to the head and that the manner of death was a homicide.

June 19, 2019 - The Federal Bureau of Prisons says Greig has been moved to community confinement. She was moved from a low-security prison in Minnesota to a halfway house overseen by the Bureau of Prisons’ Philadelphia Residential Reentry Management (RRM) Office.

September 2019 - Bulger’s family files a $200 million wrongful death claim against the federal government.

October 30, 2020 - Bulger’s family files a lawsuit against 30 federal prison employees for “intentional or deliberately indifferent actions” that the family says led to his death.

August 18, 2022 - Fotios “Freddy” Geas, Paul “Pauly” DeCologero and Sean McKinnon are indicted in the 2018 beating death of Bulger at the US Penitentiary Hazelton. The three men are charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.