James "Whitey" Bulger's former pal told a federal court today that he brought his girlfriend to a house so Bulger could strangle her because she knew about corrupt FBI agents who were helping the alleged Boston mob boss.
"He really wanted to kill her," Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi told the court.
"Did you agree with that?" asked federal prosecutor Fred Wyshak.
"Not at first,'' Flemmi, 79, answered. "But then he gave me a litany of reasons."
Those reasons, Flemmi told the court, centered on what Debbie Davis – a young, pretty blonde who he began dating when she was 17 – knew about the relationship he and Bulger had with rogue FBI agents.
"Were you in love with her?" Wyshak asked.
"I loved her, but I was not in love with her,'' Flemmi answered. Besides, he added, Bulger, now 83, complained unrelentingly about the attention that Davis brought to them .
"He wasn't too happy with my relationship with her. It affected our business,'' Flemmi answered. "I bought her a Mercedes. I gave her a lot of money. She had a lot of jewelry. People start noticing that."
"Why did that upset Mr. Bulger?" Wyshak asked.
"Because that was drawing attention to me and to him,'' Flemmi answered.
The final straw for Bulger and FBI agent John Connolly was after Davis' brother was murdered in prison. She wanted answers and asked Flemmi "to ask John Connolly."
Connolly, who has since been convicted of corruption charges, told Bulger that Davis knew about the partnership her boyfriend and Bulger had forged with the FBI and did not react well, Flemmi testified.
"How did Mr. Connolly react?" Wyshak asked.
"He wasn't too happy about it either,'' Flemmi said.
Davis' questions about her brother sealed her death and Bulger wanted him to murder her, Flemmi testified. "I couldn't do it. He knew," Flemmi said
So Bulger told Flemmi, "I'll take care of it."
"I bought a house in South Boston. He said to bring her there, which I did. I met her there at the house. We walked in… He grabbed her by the neck, Jim Bulger,'' Flemmi said. "He grabbed her by the throat and strangled her."
"What did you do?" Wyshak asked.
"Nothing," Flemmi answered.
"Why?" Wyshak asked.
"That was the plan,'' he said. "It affected me. It will affect me until the day I die."
When she was dead, Flemmi took off her clothes and wrapped her up in a tarp as Bulger "laid down" upstairs. The body was put in a trunk and driven to Tenean Beach. Davis was 26 when she was murdered.
"I dug the hole," Flemmi told the court.
"Is that typical of Mr. Bulger to kill somebody and make everyone else do the work?" Wyshak asked.
"He does that,'' Flemmi answered.
That hole was not the only one Flemmi and other Winter Hill Gang mobsters dug at Tenean Beach, a scrubby stretch of sand underneath the Southeastern Expressway. There were others buried there. It was also a favored location for Flemmi and Bulger to meet their FBI handler.
"That's where we had meetings,'' Flemmi told the court.
Sometimes as they talked to the FBI agent, Bulger would make jokes about the murdered people buried under their feet, victims like Paul McGonagle, Flemmi told the court.
"How did you know Paul McGonagle was buried there?" asked federal prosecutor Fred Wyshak.
"He, Jim Bulger, told me that's where he buried him,'' Flemmi answered.
Bulger buried another body there, Flemmi said. Donald McGonagle remains were also recovered at the beach.
"Why did Mr. Bulger kill Donald McGonagle?" Wyshak asked.
"He thought it was Paul McGonagle,'' Flemmi told the court.