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'I Think He Wanted to Die': Ex-Warden on Whitey Bulger

Retired warden says Boston gangster seemed to have 'come to peace'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2019 11:58 AM CDT
This June 23, 2011, file booking photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows James "Whitey" Bulger.   (U.S. Marshals Service via AP, File)

(Newser) – James "Whitey" Bulger was murdered in prison—but did the Boston gangster actually want to die? That's the theory of the former warden at Florida's Coleman II penitentiary in Sumterville, where Bulger was imprisoned before his ultimately doomed transfer to the Hazelton federal prison in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. In an interview with NBC News, Charles Lockett explains that Bulger experienced severe chest pains at the Florida prison in February 2018. After a series of tests, the nursing supervisor determined Bulger needed to be seen by a heart doctor at a local hospital; Bulger refused, then threatened the woman, telling her, "I know people. I still have connections back home." That's what caused his prison transfer, which took place in October 2018, to be initiated. The 89-year-old was fatally beaten to death within hours of his arrival at the West Virginia prison.

"Quite frankly, I think he wanted to die," says Lockett, who retired in December. "I think whatever issues he had, he had come to peace with them." In the wake of the murder, many wondered why the elderly Bulger—whose role as an FBI informant made him a target—was placed in the general population. But Lockett insists Bulger "demanded to be out in general population" at his new prison. Media outlets have reported other oddities, such as Bulger's medical care level being changed to show an improvement even though there had been none, a change that would have made it easier for prison officials to get him transferred. Lockett, however, says the classification change was made simply because Bulger wouldn't see a specialist. "He didn't want any medical care whatsoever, which is sad," he says. Click for the full interview. (Bulger's lawyer tells a different story.)

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