Whitey Bulger, the mobster who terrorized South Boston in the 1970s and 80s, was murdered at the US Penitentiary Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, Virginia on October 30 at around 6am, beaten to death by prison inmates, his eyes nearly gouged out. Apparently his reputation as a former FBI informant was never forgiven or forgotten. For those who finally got to him, it was just a matter of biding their time, being in the right place at the right time, and seizing the moment.
Although Bulger is best know for his involvement in multiple murders and extortions in South Boston, he wasn’t above taking a little business trip to Wellesley. According to authors of the 2013 book Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice, Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy, back in 1974 Bulger came into Wellesley and created a dangerous mess.
In 2013 Cullen and Murphy came to the Wellesley Free Library for an authors’ talk. A chapter of their book tells how in September 1974 Bulger trekked out to Wellesley to send a little message to Judge Arthur W. Garrity, who lived in Wellesley Hills. The communication device: a Molotov cocktail. The target: Kingsbury Elementary School, now known as Kingsbury Condominiums, at 40 Seaver St. Bulger apparently hit his mark, and the school was closed down for repairs for a matter of months.
Students were not in the building at the time, and nobody was injured by the bomb. Fire damaged two classrooms, and about 40 students were displaced. Wellesley firefighters put out the blaze. The school was closed in 1975 and eventually turned into condos.
So why Wellesley? It was all a little message to Garrity, who in 1974 ruled that Boston public schools had a history of systemic and unconstitutional racial discrimination that was achieved through segregating students by race into separate and unequal schools. Garrity was instrumental in implementing the school busing plan that assigned and bused students to different schools in order to end segregation in those schools.
Whitey didn’t like anyone saying that South Boston kids had to leave their neighborhood to go to Roxbury schools. And when Whitey didn’t like something, someone was going to pay. Since Garrity lived in Wellesley, the authors say Whitey hand delivered his message straight to Wellesley, throwing the homemade bomb through a window of the Kingsbury School.
Bulger was never arrested for his alleged involvement in the incident.
Garrity lived in Wellesley until his death in 1999.
Dennis McCormick says
Another Wellesley connection. Richard Stratton, who grew up in Wellesley and became a marijuana kingpin in the hippie mafia, had his life saved by Whitey in a quarrel over drug territory. Stratton’s “Smuggler’s Blues” tells the story.
Fascinating story, Mrs. Swellesley!