BOSTON — The longtime girlfriend of captured fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger, Catherine Greig, has been returned to jail after a federal magistrate decided Wednesday not to decide, for now, whether she should be released on bail. In still another and emotional departure from the normal, which has characterized this case, the families of some of Bulger’s alleged victims were allowed to testify against Greig’s release.
Greig’s attorney, Kevin Reddington, sought to portray the gray, thin and forlorn defendant as one more victim of Bulger. But those whose fathers and sisters he had allegedly murdered weren’t buying it. They clearly would have preferred to speak to Bulger, yet once again it seemed Greig was taking on “Whitey’s” burden.
Chris McIntyre was here to speak for his brother John.
“Her lawyer up there is saying Ms. Greig up there had no idea about any of the murders. And then when Kevin Weeks got up there, all I could think of was, this was the guy who witnessed my brother’s brains get splattered all over the wall. And she knew nothing about it. I don’t think so,” McIntyre said.
The entry of emotional and angry victim impact statements into the proceeding of a bail hearing is highly unusual. It came on the second day as federal prosecutors extended the trail of evidence that Greig had harbored her fugitive lover, that she’d helped him and hid him. Under questioning, an FBI agent testified that at their Santa Monica apartment, Greig had paid the monthly rent, the cable TV bills and even the subscription to the Los Angeles Times.
At the salon, where she got her hair styled, colored and cut, the hairdresser revealed that Greig had said “she liked bad boys.” Referring to Bulger as her husband, Greig had said, he “was a bad boy when they met, but he was over that now.”
Prosecutor James Herbert asserted that she knew who and what Bulger was. So too did Tom Donahue, whose father was murdered with a machine gun 100 yards from this courthouse a few months before his son was born.
“Her defense quoted many times ‘She’s a very intelligent, woman she’s a very nice woman.’ I don’t doubt that one bit, this woman has been roaming around the planet with the most wanted man around. A man wanted for 19 murders.”
Looking like Spencer Tracy as he cross-examined the FBI agent, Reddington drew a portrait of a loving and caring woman, greatly respected and loved by neighbors who knew her as Helen and Carol along the” Whitey” trail in Santa Monica and Grande Isle, La. One neighbor in Grande Isle recalled how Bulger controlled Greig, “ordering her around like a servant. He would clap his hands for service and Helen would respond quickly.”
Reddington called Bulger lieutenant Kevin Weeks to the stand. He appeared unhappy to be back in court. But seeing the woman he delivered to Bulger when she took off in 1995, Weeks betrayed a slight smile and a twinkle in his eye.
“Was Catherine to your knowledge involved in the business?”
“No,” Weeks said.
“Did you ever know her to be violent?”
Weeks said whenever he and Bulger talked business they left Greig on a bench.
“Her only crime,” Reddington told the magistrate, “was a crime of passion, of falling in love.”
“I’m disgusted with it all. It sickens me,” said Steve Davis, whose sister was allegedly strangled and garrotted by Bulger.
Though the purpose of a bail hearing is to determine whether the defendant poses a danger to the community or a risk of flight, what Davis and the others might add to these questions is at best unclear.
Yet the government was arguing the victims should be heard before the magistrate decides whether Greig should be released on bail.
Defense attorneys have called that highly irregular.
“Victims have the right to be heard at detention hearings,” announced the magistrate, Jennifer Boal.
The problem was Boal wasn’t clear whether these people met the definition of being victims — not when it came to Greig, although they met the definition of being “victims” of Bulger.
“She wanted to revisit the issue of whether or not these individuals qualify under the definition of victim as she understands it,” said the Davis family attorney Paul Griffin, commenting on the magistrate’s position.
But instead of deciding the issue first, the magistrate allowed the “victims” to speak anyway, pushing down the line her final decision whether to accept their statements at all.
Then four men came forward to speak of youth hollowed out by pain and loss. One of them was Donahue.
“I wanted the judge to really know how sincere and serious we really were,” he said.
“Her 16 years on the run were the 16 years we cried,” he said, alternately sobbing and exhaling for control.
As Greig froze in her chair, never turning to look, Donahue talked about her running errands for Bulger and “spending the blood money” Bulger took from his victims.
Then he read, haltingly, from a poem he remembered as a child. A poem By William Blake:
Father, father, where are you going?
Speak father, speak to your little boy or else I shall be lost.
The night was dark, no father was there…and the child did weep.
Perhaps sensing where this was headed, at the last moment Reddington said his client would voluntarily agree to remain in detention for now, allowing the magistrate to put off another decision on whether to release Greig on bail.