The FBI's international manhunt for the Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitive James J. "Whitey" Bulger and his girlfriend took a hit this week after widely circulated photos and video — thought to be the couple — turned out to be German tourists.
On Feb. 20, agents working on the Bulger Fugitive Task Force appeared on Germany's equivalent of the television show "America's Most Wanted" and showcased the potentially promising photos and video the bureau thought were of the reputed Boston organized crime figure and his girlfriend, Catherine Elizabeth Greig, vacationing in Italy last year.
The FBI disclosed Tuesday that following the agents' appearance on the German program, a couple in that country came forward and identified themselves as the couple in the photos and video, which the bureau released publicly last September.
Bulger was the head of the Winter Hill Gang, which allegedly raked in income from extortion payments paid by career criminals in the Boston area in exchange for the ability to run drug operations, loan sharking and other illegal enterprises.
The government claims the reputed gang, likewise known as the Bulger group, was also pervasive in money laundering and other rackets.
Bulger is believed to have fled the United States before his indictment in 1995. He is wanted on Rico charges, and for allegedly killing 19 individuals in the Boston area.
Besides the appearance on German TV, the FBI has publicized the Bulger case on television in Spain and the United Kingdom.
The FBI said Bulger and Greig enjoy walks on beaches, might frequent libraries and historic sights and have a love of animals, which could draw them to shelters.
However, the FBI added that Bulger also has a violent temper, is known to always carry a knife, and should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.
The U.S. government offered a $1 million reward for information leading to Bulger's capture.
In a statement Tuesday, the Justice Department said, "The Bulger Task Force wishes to thank the couple from Germany for coming forward and helping to bring this search for the lookalikes to a conclusion. Their cooperation and the cooperation of German law enforcement authorities is greatly appreciated."
Bulger, born in 1929, would now be 78 years old. Greig would be 56.