On Monday, Stephen “the Rifleman” Flemmi testified in court about four examples of murders that he said Bulger carried out himself. He said that he witnessed three of the killings himself and was told of a fourth in detail by Bulger.
Flemmi said Bulger told him one of the alleged victims was Brian Halloran, an associate of the gang, who was killed in a hail of gunfire by Bulger. However, he witnessed the killings of three other Bulger victims, including Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, a small-time crook; John McIntyre, a gun runner, and Deborah Hussey, Flemmi’s own stepdaughter.
In each of the cases where Flemmi said he witnessed Bulger killing someone, he testified that Bulger had insisted each victim had to be killed because they were likely either to become informants or to testify in court against them. According to Flemmi, each of the victims was lured to the same South Boston home and then murdered.
In the case of his step-daughter, Hussey, Flemmi said Bulger:
…stepped out from behind the top of the basement stairs, grabbed her by the throat, and started strangling her…. It didn’t take long. She was a very fragile woman.”
Afterwards, in each case, Flemmi said he and other gang members then “cleaned up.” They did this by discarding the victims’ clothing and removing teeth to make identification more difficult. They then buried them in the basement of the house.
In the meantime, Bulger would take a nap or relax in an upstairs room of the house after his killings, according to Flemmi.
Bulger fled Boston in 1984 because of a federal indictment on the pair of them. He lived on the run for 16 years before being caught, while his former partner Flemmi was arrested and eventually confessed to 10 murders. He escaped the death penalty through making a deal with prosecutors.
According to Flemmi, some of the gang’s victims were killed spontaneously, almost on a whim. For example, Barrett was shot by Bulger without warning inside the same South Boston home where Hussey and McIntyre were murdered.
Flemmi testified that Barrett’s shooting shocked him, because the victim was standing between him and Bulger. When Flemmi complained that the bullet could have gone through Barrett and hit him, Bulger told him, “that was an asinine statement.”
Flemmi testified that, in the case of Debra Hussey, his stepdaughter, he returned from time on the lam in Canada to find her hooked on drugs, living on the edge and frequenting Boston’s “combat zone,” which was Boston’s notorious prostitution district at that time.
A bookmaker, at one point, complained to Flemmi that she had robbed him of $800. It wasn’t long after that Bulger became convinced that Hussey was a liability who might at any time identify the gang. Because of that, the decision was made by the gang, and by Flemmi, “reluctantly” to kill her.
Defense attorney Henry Brennan piled into Flemmi, accusing him of sexually abusing Hussey, who he noted once called Flemmi “daddy.” Flemmi has admitted having sexual relations with Hussey but he sated that they were “consensual,” calling it moments of “weakness” on his part.
At one point, the trial was disrupted when Flemmi attempted to make an apology to the brother of his ex-girlfriend, Debbie Davis, who Flemmi claims he lured to the same house the other murders occurred in. He alleges that Bulger leaped out and strangled her.
Flemmi’s apology today wasn’t for helping to kill her, or for wrapping her in a tarp and burying her in a shallow grave.
Instead, Flemmi, 79, who is serving a life sentence, said he was sorry for mistakenly telling the court that Davis’ brother Steve was a “drug dealer.”
He said he had confused Steve Davis with his brother Mickey, who was killed at Walpole State Prison.
“I apologize for that,” Flemmi, appearing flustered and confused, told the court.
That is when the proceedings were disrupted in the crowded South Boston federal court. Steve Davis leapt to his feet and shouted: “You’re a f***ing liar,”
Bulger denies having murdered Debbie Davis, though Flemmi testified that Bulger insisted Debbie Davis be killed because she was aware of his connection to corrupt FBI agent John Connolly.
The testimony of Stephen “Rifleman” Flemmi when he said he witnessed Whitey Bulger murder three people ignited the court. His testimony will continue tomorrow.
Written by: Douglas Cobb