No one may have been more surprised by reputed mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger’s capture than Kevin Weeks, his former lieutenant and surrogate son. As a mobster-turned-government witness, Weeks led investigators to the secret graves of some of Bulger's alleged victims.
Weeks wrote two books about the crimes of his former boss. Now that the boss is back, Weeks expects to be called on to do what he never thought he would have to do: face Bulger in a courtroom.
A Visit With Weeks
On the night of June 20, Weeks launched his new book, "Where's Whitey?"
Three nights later, we had the answer: Santa Monica. It was a quick read.
"I just never thought they'd catch him. I never thought he was in this country," Weeks said.
For 25 years the right-hand man for Bulger had a close-up view to murder and a supporting role in beatings, extortion and intimidation.
Yet Weeks knows Bulger as well as anyone. Weeks said he recognized some of the 30 guns that agents pulled out of the walls of Bulger's apartment. They're from the stash of assault rifles and pistols the gang kept as its arsenal back in Boston, according to Weeks, which suggests Bulger moved those guns before becoming a fugitive.
Weeks said it's a good thing the agents lured Bulger out from his apartment before arresting him.
"What do you figure might have happened if he had still been in the apartment?" I asked Weeks.
"I think he would have done what he always said: 'Let's all go to hell together,'" Weeks said. "If anyone has ever seen the movie 'The Heat' with Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, it said these guys are ready to rock 'n roll in a second. That's him. He wouldn't hesitate to shoot."
For 25 years the right-hand man for Bulger had a close-up view to murder and a supporting role in beatings, extortion and intimidation. Weeks came to know "Jimmy" Bulger well and Bulger partner Steven Flemmi, too.
"Stevie liked this kind of work?" I asked Weeks.
"Stevie? Yeah, we used to call him Dr. Mengele," he said.
"Because he was pulling teeth, you mean?"
"Yeah. Stevie's a different type of person. And I actually believe Stevie's killed more than Jimmy."
Weeks said Flemmi claimed 40 murders.
"How many do you think Jimmy is responsible for?"
"Well we were talking one night and he had claimed at that point to have killed 37 people."
Bulger is "only" charged with killing half that many.
"Hole was over here," Weeks said.
The "hole" was in a field of brush at the edge of the Southeast Expressway across from Florian Hall in Dorchester. After Weeks got out of prison in 2005, he took me there, where he'd taken the State Police in January 2000. He testified that he, "Whitey" Bulger and Flemmi secretly buried three of Bulger's victims. Weeks saw each one murdered. Their bones proved that he was telling the truth.
"You were there."
"There for Bucky Barrett's murder?"
"Shot. His brains blown out."
"You were close by?"
"I was right there."
"You were there seeing Deborah Hussey strangled."
"Then her neck..."
"Stevie put a rope around her neck and put a stick in the rope and twisted it like a garrotte."
"You saw McIntyre being strangled?"
"Then shot in the back of the head."
The FBI And Bulger
As you hear the details, remember this: Bulger and Flemmi were protected by people in the FBI and the Justice Department.
"Well I knew they were protecting them, because we were paying for the information," Weeks said.
Weeks saw Bulger stuffing cash into envelopes with code names of the FBI agents they were meant to bribe. Weeks says he carried several thousand dollars from Bulger to former FBI agent John Connolly.
Weeks proved a deadly witness at Connolly's first trial, then helped convict him of murder at a later trial in Florida. But Weeks said Jimmy had more friends in the FBI than just Connolly.
"Jim used to claim he had six FBI agents up there that he could call on anytime, and they would willingly hop in the car with him, with a machine gun. In other words, he's alluding to me that he'd call them anytime and they'd hop in the car and go on a hit with him," Weeks said.
"And he said they were such good friends that he could count on them?" I asked.
"Correct," Weeks said.
"To get into the car with him?"
"With machine guns? Were you a little curious who they were?"
"No. I figured I was better off not knowing," Weeks said.
If Weeks was like a son to Bulger, the father had advice: "Act in haste, repent in leisure," Weeks remembers Bulger telling him, which logically led to Bulger's other maxim: "Always kill in cold blood."
Weeks Talks 'Snitching'
No one ever alleged Weeks killed anyone. For the five murders he attended, Weeks served five years as part of his plea deal. Today he works as a day laborer; he's building a playground and said he wants his sons to be proud of him, "and to look back at the things that we did and were involved in. It's not normal."
That's an understatement. To listen to Weeks now is to hear a mix of regret, remorse and resentment that comes through as he defends himself from the label of "snitch" for selling out his friends.
"Yeah I cooperated, but I gave up a guy that was giving up everybody. It wasn’t like I was giving up someone on the street; these people were doing a lot of damage," he said. "Not only were we killing people, but they were giving up other criminals. So I mean, you can’t say that I ratted on a rat. They were ratting on everybody — I stopped them."
The return of his one-time boss brings it all back for Weeks, who as a witness could bury Bulger deeper than the skeletons at Florian Hall. But Weeks doesn't expect it will come to that.
"I think he'll reach a plea deal. I mean there's nothing in it for him to go to trial. He'll be 82 years old Sept. 3. I mean just the gun charges out in California alone are 30 years, so it's not like he's ever going to get out of prison. I think the right thing to do is maybe make a deal to save her."
"Her" being Catherine Greig, the woman who's been with Bulger since he took off and is now being held on charges of harboring a fugitive.
Weeks is unlikely to see Bulger until, and unless, he comes to trial.
"Will it be difficult to look him in the eye and tell the truth? No," he said. "Will it feel good? No."
For Weeks that may be the new normal.
Olivia Evans Stearns contributed to this report.
This program aired on August 11, 2011.