SANTA MONICA, Calif. — James “Whitey” Bulger had eluded justice in Boston by hiding 3,000 miles away.
According to rental records and neighbors, it appears Bulger and his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig had been living in Santa Monica for the past 15 years.
Neighbors say they’d often see Charlie and Carol Gasko walking the beach bluff in the mornings and evenings. The man they knew as “Charlie” usually wore big sunglasses and a baseball hat, hardly an eyebrow-raising disguise in the California sun.
“Carol” looked much older than her 60 years. Together, they acted like a retired couple living on a fixed income.
Now the neighbors are coming to terms with the reality: it was reputed Boston mobster “Whitey” Bulger and his longtime girlfriend.
Bulger was known as a dog lover. That’s how Denise Walsh met him. Walsh said she didn’t know Bulger’s name but could tell he was from Boston by his accent. She assumed he was married to Greig and once told her husband she wished they could enjoy such a quiet retirement.
“I said this to my husband, it’s so funny I used to look at those people and say, ‘Gosh, honey, maybe that’s us when we are that old.’ And then he said to me, ‘Yeah, except we won’t have a price on our head and have 30 guns in our apartment,’ ” Walsh said.
It appears Bulger and Greig lived a frugal and unremarkable life here in Santa Monica. They didn’t own a car, they lived in a rent-controlled apartment for about $1,100 a month and they shopped for organic produce at the 99-cent store.
Many of Bulger’s acquaintances and friends in Santa Monica say they’re shocked and overwhelmed by the news of his capture. Barbara Gluck, for instance, who’s been friendly with Greig for more than a decade, said she wanted to know more about their relationship.
“I never inquired and I was always curious,” Gluck said. “And I was at some point a little concerned when he would have those flare-ups. You know, when she and I would stop to talk and he would yell: ‘Don’t talk to her.’ You know, ‘Let’s get going!’ ”
Greig was a gentle, kind woman, Gluck said, and she always wondered what her attraction was to Bulger. Greig blamed Bulger’s outbursts on dementia. But that could be a ruse because others in the building, including Josh Bond, the building’s manager, said Bulger was not losing his mind. Bond said he interacted with Bulger about twice a week for four years.
When asked if he was in shock, Bond said, “Yeah I think everybody who lives there is in shock. It’s not every day that one of the most wanted men in America happens to be your neighbor and gets arrested by the FBI.”