By Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
James “Whitey’’ Bulger, the Boston gangster who eluded authorities for 16 years before being captured and convicted of participating in 11 murders in 2013, has died at a prison in West Virginia.
Bulger, who was 89, was found dead Tuesday, the Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed in a news release, which said Bulger had arrived at the Hazelton Penitentiary in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, on Monday.
The Boston Globe and CNN are among the news outlets reporting Bulger was killed at Hazelton, where he was transferred from a facility in Oklahoma City. The release does not address the cause of death but says the FBI has opened an investigation.
Known as one of the nation’s most notorious criminals and fugitives, Bulger was the head of a violent South Boston crime ring known as the Winter Hill Gang from the 1970s into the 1990s.
In 1995, Bulger was tipped off about his imminent indictment by an FBI agent and escaped, remaining on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list until getting apprehended in 2011 in Santa Monica, California.
His life of crime inspired several movies, including “Black Mass” and “The Departed,’’ which won an Oscar for the Best Picture of 2006.
Bulger, who was serving a life sentence, had been recently moved from a federal prison in Florida to a transfer facility in Oklahoma City before being relocated to the Hazelton Penitentiary. He had been in ill health for some time.
Among the slayings linked to Bulger was that of Roger Wheeler, who was gunned down outside his country club in Tulsa in 1981. Bulger was also convicted for his role in murders in several states and for racketeering, extortion, drug dealing, money laundering and weapons possession.
Contributing: The Associated Press