The Death Of Infamous Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger: What Other Criminals Died In Prison?

Andrew Roberts 30 Oct 2018

Whitey Bulger, the former Boston gangster and most wanted fugitive, has finally met his end after a recent transfer to a West Virginia prison. According to a report by TMZ, Bulger was beaten to death by at least three other inmates after being introduced to general population on Tuesday morning:

"We're told he was approached by 3 other inmates who wheeled him into a corner that could not be seen by surveillance cameras."

"Our source says the inmates beat Bulger -- one used a lock in a sock as a weapon -- until he was unconscious..."

It gets a bit more graphic from there, but it also marks the end of one of the most infamous criminals in American history. Bulger was serving two life sentences for 11 murders committed as the head of the Winter Hill gang throughout the '70s and '80s. A career crimnal, Bulger was also revealed to be an FBI informant starting in mid-1970s. This changed his longtime image as the "Irish Robin Hood" and the revelations were the beginning of the end for his role in Boston's criminal underworld.

On The Run, Fame, 'Black Mass'


In December 1994, Bulger disappeared ahead of an indictment on racketeering charges, leading to years on the run and a $2 million dollar reward during a decade on the FBI's Most Wanted list -- the largest for a domestic fugitive according to the New York Times. He was finally captured in June 2011 alongside longtime companion Catherine Greig.

Bulger's story was covered on the big screen in Black Mass, with Johnny Depp portraying Bulger during his time in the gang and his dealings with the FBI. He was also an inspiration for Jack Nicholson's character in Martin Scorsese's The Departed.

The end of Bulger's life makes him the latest notorious criminal to die in custody. And with the violent of his end, it certainly places a bloody point of punctuation on the end of it.

He's in very infamous company:

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John Gotti

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Known as The Teflon Don, John Gotti might be the most recognizable mobster of modern times -- and likely one who caused the most damage to his own criminal organization.

Gotti was behind almost every crime imaginable as a member of the Gambino crime family in New York, but he is likely most famous for the orchestration of the death of former boss Paul Castellano and his ascension to leadership of the family in 1985.

Gotti earned the Teflon title due to the inability of prosecutors to get charges to "stick" to him during trial appearances, a title that came to end after his conviction for racketeering in 1992 -- leading to a sentence for life in prison.

Gotti has a somewhat tame stay in prison outside of being attacked by a fellow inmate in 1996, a diagnosis of throat cancer in 1998, and his insistence on maintaining his role as boss while in prison. He succumbed to the cancer a few years later in 2002.

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Al Capone

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While Al Capone might be the most infamous and well-known gangster in history, his time in prison and his arrest are farm from the heights of his crimes.

Capone was famously convicted on federal income-tax evasion and was put in prison for 11 years, ending his stint as crime boss when he was 33 years old. He was sent to Alcatraz in 1932 after his early prison stay in Atlanta, but his health soon fell early on. Capone was diagnosed with syphilitic dementia early on and by 1946 he was found to have the mind of a 12-year-old due to the disease. He died in January 1947.

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Aileen Wuornos


Made famous by Charlize Theron's Academy Award-winning portrayal in Monster and her own colorful appearances in several documentaries following her conviction, Aileen Wuornos was put to death in 2002 after her conviction for 7 murders in 1992.

Wuronos received six death sentences for her crimes, which she first claimed were in self defense and then later revealed that she was not truly a victim according to CNN:

"I killed those men, robbed them as cold as ice. And I'd do it again, too," Wuornos said. "There's no chance in keeping me alive or anything, because I'd kill again. I have hate crawling through my system."

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Albert DeSalvo

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Albert DeSalvo is a strange case because he confessed and was convicted of being the Boston Strangler in 1967 -- receiving life in prison. While DeSalvo certainly committed many crimes and DNA evidence placed him at some of the crimes, his murder confessions have been disputed over the years.

DeSalvo did recant his confession at one point, but never left prison. He was later stabbed to death in the prison infirmary in November 1973, with a member of Bulger's gang charged with the murder. In the end, though, no one was convicted of DeSalvo's slaying.

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Jeffrey Dahmer


Possibly the most frightening and infamous serial killer in history, Dahmer's crime are well-worn territory. Cannibalism, sadism, and many other disgusting acts filled his rap sheet and landed him 15 life sentences in 1992.

This would not last long because Dahmer was murdered in prison in 1994 by fellow convicted murderer Christopher Scarver. He explained why in a disputed interview from 2015 in the New York Post, claiming that Dahmer had run afoul of many in prison:

“He crossed the line with some people — prisoners, prison staff. Some people who are in prison are repentant — but he was not one of them.”

Dahmer still remains one of the most well known killers in American history, with several films and documentaries discussing his life and crimes.

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Ted Bundy


Another famous killer with a tragic criminal career and violent end was Ted Bundy. He allegedly murdered 30 or more women 1974 and 1978, growing in the public eye after his capture, escape, and second capture leading to his execution in 1989.

Much like Wuronos, Bundy tried to paint his crimes in different ways after his death sentence in 1980. Bundy acted as his own attorney and turned this trial into a show for strangeness, including marrying a witness in the middle of the trial thanks to Florida's weird set of laws.

His wife, Carole Ann Boone, was with him until 1986 and claimed he was innocent until he finally confessed to his murders in the days before his execution. He also attempted to change his sentence by offering up the location of victims and assistance with other cases, to no avail.

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Carl Panzram

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A horrible murderer who killed anywhere between 5 and 20 victims during his criminal career between 1907 and 1928, Carl Panzram is the prime example of a hardened criminal.

Murder, sodomy, robbery, and much more highlight Panzram's life spent in and out of prison. Most of it was detailed by the man himself in his own biography that was taken out of prison and published by a prison guard who befriended him near the end of his life.

This confession and journal kicks off with following line, cementing his infamy:

"In my lifetime I have murdered 21 human beings, I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons and, last but not least, I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. For all these things I am not in the least bit sorry."

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