Two-Plus Years Later, Whitey Bulger Murder Suspects Still In Solitary With No End In Sight

James (Whitey) Bulger, one of the most notorious gangster snitches of the 20th century, was found viciously beaten to death inside a West Virginia prison on October 30, 2018. Two years and seven months later, no one has been charged with the murder—but three inmates—suspects in the case—remain in the special housing unit at US Penitentiary Hazelton, locked in tiny cells for 23 hours a day, the Boston Globe recently reported.

James (Whitey) Bulger
Whitey Bulger was given two life terms for participating in 11 murders.

Relatives of the three prisoners have said that the trio is being denied "basic human rights." 

The COVID-19 pandemic is part of the reason why the Bulger murder probe is still open with no charges filed. Other than that and the grievances of suspects’ family members, practically no new developments in the Bulger case have come to light. We know about as much as we did in 2018....

Bulger had a hip injury and was in a wheelchair when he was brought to Hazelton that year. Bulger did not have much time to acclimate himself to his new digs: He was slain the morning after he arrived. He was in his cell and apparently on his bunk when his killers entered and bashed his head in with a padlock stuffed in a sock in an attack so brutal, Bulger's eyes appeared to have been gouged out of his head and his tongue sliced off. His killers left him wrapped in a blanket with his head resting atop the pillow to make it look like he was sleeping.

The case's lack of developments (including criminal charges) is surprising, given that, from the very beginning, prison officials had seemingly incontrovertible evidence pointing to the culprits: two of the men can be seen on surveillance footage entering Bulger’s cell about two-and-a-half hours before his body was found. In fact, within days of the killing, law enforcement officials identified Fotios (Freddy) Geas and Paul J. DeCologero—both of whom were prisoners at Hazelton when Bulger arrived—as two of the men who attacked Bulger. Geas also was said to have confessed to the crime. (This may be the rub holding up the works: While surveillance evidence incriminates both inmates, Geas was claiming to be the lone perpetrator. [Was Freddy attempting to horde all the credit for slaughtering one of the most notorious "rats" in the history of the Mafia? We don't believe so. It would seem more likely that Geas is attempting to cover for DeCologero given that DeCologero is slated to get out of prison one day (in about five years), and Geas will never get out, having been given a life sentence. What's another murder charge to a prison lifer?])

Further damning Geas and DeCologero, both have strong ties to organized crime. Each in fact belonged to a violent Mafia crew that operated in proximity to Bulger’s old stomping grounds. 

The third inmate locked in the SHU is Sean McKinnon, 35, who shared a cell with Geas and has no known mob ties. McKinnon is serving an eight-year sentence for stealing guns and is due for release in July 2022.

Geas, 54, was an associate of the crime family at the top of the food chain, the Genovese crime family, specifically, the Genovese family’s Springfield crew. He, his brother Ty, and former Bronx-based Genovese acting boss Arthur (Artie) Nigro were tried and convicted for the 2003 gangland killing of Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno, who ran the Springfield crew, among other mob mainstay crimes. In 2011, all three were sentenced to life in prison. Nigro died in prison in 2019 serving this sentence.

While all wiseguys will talk about how much they hate rats, Freddy Geas apparently has a special kind of hatred burning in his heart for those who flip and talk.

“Freddy hated rats, ” private investigator Ted McDonough, who knew Geas, told the Boston Globe.

"Freddy hated guys who abused women. Whitey was a rat who killed women. It’s probably that simple,” McDonough said. (Bulger in fact was linked to the murders of at least two women by his longtime partner in crime.)

DeCologero, 46, was a member of a violent New England Mafia-affiliated crew run by his uncle---the DeCologero Crew--which robbed and kidnapped drug dealers and sold drugs. DeCologero also would seem to have a specific motive to retaliate against Whitey Bulger. Bulger reportedly once put contracts on his family members.

DeCologero's brother said in an interview that Whitey Bulger and Paul had never personally interacted, but that their uncle, Paul A. (Big Paulie) DeCologero, had said there was once a problem with Bulger and that Bulger had put contracts on the uncle and other members of the family.

In 2006, Paul J. DeCologero was sentenced to 25 years in prison on federal racketeering and witness-tampering charges for helping Big Paulie organize the murder of Aislin Silva, a 19-year-old woman who was dating a member of the DeCologero crew. 

Police and federal agents raided her apartment and found guns and drugs that the crew had stolen from a rival drug dealer and stashed in her home. Fearing she might cooperate, Paul A. ordered her death, and she was strangled and dismembered before she was buried in an undisclosed grave in Massachusetts' North Shore, as per prosecutors.

Since late 2018, the three inmates suspected of involvement in the Bulger murder have had to endure harsh restrictions, in addition to being locked in the SHU, according to relatives, who had said that incoming letters are photocopied and heavily redacted by prison officials. The three inmates are given meager rations of toilet paper and are limited in terms of reading material.

The Bureau of Prisons repeatedly denied the men’s requests to be transferred, the relatives also said. The BOP won’t say how much longer they will remain in solitary.

Geas has been held in the special housing unit since "almost immediately after" Bulger was fatally beaten, said his attorney Daniel Kelly. Geas and Kelly have filed requests for him to be transferred out of the SHU. They also have sought an explanation from the BOP for why he’s still there, to no avail, Kelly told Fox News.

“The only thing he has is a radio and for a while he was only getting bologna sandwiches,” Alex Geas said of his father.

McKinnon’s mother, Cheryl Prevost, expressed concern about her son, who has ADHD. She said her son is now sharing a cell with DeCologero in the SHU.

“I don’t understand why they put both of them in together,” Prevost said.

Her son told her he doesn’t know anything about Bulger’s slaying. In response to a grievance he filed in January, the warden said there is “an ongoing investigation that is not able to be disclosed at this time,” she said.

Randolph J. Bernard, acting US attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, said in a statement that Bulger’s death remains under investigation and “no other information can be released at this time to protect the integrity of that investigation.”

As per international human rights law, “prolonged” solitary confinement, lasting more than 15 days, is prohibited.

Paul J. DeCologero
Paul J. DeCologero was a member of the Mafia-affiliated DeCologero Crew.

Whitey Bulger allegedly murdered 19, including two women.

On the witness stand during Bulger's trial in 2013, the Boston mob boss's longtime partner Stephen (The Rifleman) Flemmi described how Bulger had orchestrated and carried out the murder of Flemmi's girlfriend, Debra Davis, strangling her with his bare hands as he dragged her down a flight of stairs.

Flemmi, who is serving life after admitting to 10 murders, said that Bulger thought she was a distraction and that she knew too much about the Winter Hill Gang's relationship with corrupt FBI agents. So one night in 1981, Bulger told Flemmi to bring the 26-year-old Davis to an empty house in South Boston, where Bulger strangled her to death. Then, as Flemmi told the court, he wrapped his dead girlfriend in a tarp and waited with Bulger until it was dark enough to bury her body near the Neponsit River.

Speaking about corrupt FBI agents, earlier this year, the Florida Commission on Offender Review voted in favor of releasing John Connolly, who has cancer and is believed to have less than a year to live. Connolly, who was Bulger’s FBI handler, was convicted in 2008 over the killing of World Jai Alai President John Callahan in Fort Lauderdale in 1982.

Bulger's Winter Hill Gang years ended in the mid-1990s when a joint taskforce, operating independently of the FBI, targeted him.

Following 16 years on the run, Bulger was sentenced to two life terms in 2013 after he was convicted for his role in 11 murders, plus drug dealing, money laundering, and extortion.

Years later, in 2018, Bulger was stricken with severe chest pains while at a Florida penitentiary. A nurse conducted some tests, then told the wheelchair-bound Bulger that he needed to see an outside heart specialist. Bulger refused. The nurse pressed — and raised his ire.

“(Bulger) told her point blank, ‘I know people. I still have connections back home,’” the former warden of the prison said in a media interview in 2018.

That, the former warden said, was what led to Bulger's transfer to the West Virginia prison.

Bulger inspired long-lasting revulsion on both sides of the law -- and was one of the most high-profile federal prisoners in the system, with no shortage of enemies, in and out of prison.

Prison staffers—current and former—have questioned why an elderly, marked man would be placed in general population in a prison that had staffing issues and a problem associated with violence.

Fotios (Freddy) Geas
Fotios (Freddy) Geas was in the Genovese crime family’s Springfield crew. He’s serving a life sentence. 

“He ratted out a lot of people,” said one prison staffer. “You cannot put that person in, not just Hazelton, but any open yard. It’s a death sentence.”

Bulger never admitted to being an informant.

USP Coleman 2 penitentiary (the penitentiary where Bulger was prior to the transfer) is a “so-called special-needs prison” for marked men like Bulger, according to former inmate Nathaniel Lindell, who noted this in a 2016 story about time he'd spent in prison with Bulger.

Coleman, he wrote, was a “safe” facility “where informants, former cops, ex-gang members, check-ins (prisoners who intentionally put themselves in solitary confinement to be safe), and sex offenders can all, supposedly, walk the Yard freely. At regular BOP lockups, these types of men are in danger of being beaten, stabbed, or strangled to death.”

Hazelton had seen two inmate killings in the previous six months prior to the arrival of Bulger. Prison workers were complaining of dangerous staffing shortages. The Department of Justice inspector general was already reviewing “conditions affecting safety and security,” Michael Horowitz said in a letter to a member of Congress.

In September 2019, the family of Whitey Bulger filed a $200 million wrongful death claim against the government over the brutal prison house murder.

The family said the legal filing was to learn why the 89-year-old was beaten to death within 24 hours after his arrival in general population at U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton.