Key Witness in Whitey Bulger Trial Found Dead

Stephen Rakes was to say that Bulger threatened his daughter at gunpoint

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 18, 2013 10:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – A key witness in the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger has been found dead in Lincoln, Mass., ABC News reports. Stephen "Stippo" Rakes was supposed to testify that Bulger and associate Stephen Flemmi had threatened his daughter at gunpoint to force him to let them use his South Boston liquor store as a headquarters, federal prosecutors say. Another Bulger crony, Kevin Weeks, disputed the story in his testimony last week.

Rakes was found with no wallet and no phone; police identified him with a fingerprint match. They've told his family that his death appears to be a suicide, but friend Steve Davis, who met Rakes for breakfast every day before court, doesn't buy it. "Strippo would not kill himself. Absolutely not," he says. " He was looking forward to taking the stand. He told me over and over he had a big bombshell to drop."

Stephen Rakes smiles after greeting an acquaintance outside the liquor store he once owned in the South Boston neighborhood of Boston, June 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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