Some solace but little closure for families of Whitey Bulger victims

‘It was like having a scab ripped off a wound that was trying to heal’

Steven Davis, whose sister was, prosecutors say, strangled by Bulger, could not understand why he did not get life without the chance of parole, although he accepted that he would never be free again. Photograph:  Brian Snyder/Reuters

Steven Davis, whose sister was, prosecutors say, strangled by Bulger, could not understand why he did not get life without the chance of parole, although he accepted that he would never be free again. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Fri, Nov 15, 2013, 01:00

Families who lost loved ones to James “Whitey” Bulger during his decades-long killing spree took solace from a sentence that condemns him to die in prison. For some, though, it brought no closure.

“It was like having a scab ripped off a wound that was trying to heal,” said Theresa Bond, daughter of Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, an alleged jewel thief who was chained to a chair in 1983 and shot in the head by Bulger after the South Boston crime boss forced him to disclose where he had hidden cash.

“Maybe it was because it was the last day, because it is somewhat over and it is not over,” Ms Bond said after the sentencing, trying to explain why she was so upset while comforting a traumatised relative. The sentence felt like her father’s murder “just happened yesterday,” she told The Irish Times.

Patrick Callahan, whose father was murdered by a hitman in Florida in 1982 acting on Bulger’s orders, said the life sentences meant that a very dangerous man would be “locked up forever.”

However he said that it was “just shameful” that his father’s killer, Bulger’s hitman John Martorano, is “out walking around and consulting on movies” after a jail term shortened for testifying against Bulger.


“Eye for an eye”
Steven Davis, whose sister was, prosecutors say, strangled by Bulger, could not understand why he did not get life without the chance of parole, although he accepted that he would never be free again.

“My satisfaction would have been the old Irish way: an eye for an eye. That’s my satisfaction. I am never going to see that. I got to live with the fact that he murdered my sister.”

Mr Davis said that even though the jury ruled “no finding” on Bulger’s role in the murder of his sister, Debra, he knew that Bulger was involved and the life sentences would not end his pain.

“Closure isn’t in my vocabulary,” he said. “I lost a sister I could never get back. When you lose a loved one to murder, it is a hollow in your heart that you can never fill again.”