ImageFotios (Freddy) Geas, a Mafia hit man from Massachusetts, seen in court in 2009, is a suspect in the death of James (Whitey) Bulger.CreditCreditDon Treeger/The Republican, via Associated PressBOSTON — The inmates deliberately moved out of view of surveillance cameras when James (Whitey) Bulger, Boston’s notorious crime boss, was beaten to death early Tuesday in a West Virginia prison, according to law enforcement officials.Still, officials said, the cameras caught video images of at least two inmates rolling Mr. Bulger, 89, who was in a wheelchair, into a corner where the attack took place.Mr. Bulger was bleeding profusely when he was found by prison authorities at 8:20 Tuesday morning. They immediately undertook lifesaving measures, they said, but he was later pronounced dead.His death, within hours of his arrival at the prison after being transferred from another facility, immediately raised questions. Mr. Bulger, a longtime federal informer and a prolific killer, had many enemies. How was he left vulnerable to a beating so relentless it displaced his eyeballs?“I’m not surprised that he got hit; I’m surprised that they let him get hit,” said Ed Davis, the former Boston police commissioner.Mr. Bulger’s eyes appeared to have been dislodged from his head, although it was unclear whether his attackers gouged them out or if they were knocked out because he was beaten so severely in the attack. This information was relayed by a senior law enforcement official, who oversees organized crime cases but is not involved in the investigation into Mr. Bulger’s death, and who said he had learned it from a federal official.“They apparently tuned him up to the point where he was unrecognizable,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the case. Officials said the beating was carried out at least in part with a padlock that was stuffed inside a sock.At least two inmates were quickly sent to solitary confinement after Mr. Bulger was found, according to three employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, who requested anonymity because the investigation was not public.ImageF.B.I. photos from 1984 of Mr. Bulger, who was serving two life terms in prison for his role in 11 murdersCreditFBI, via Associated PressOfficials identified one of the suspects as Fotios (Freddy) Geas, 51, a Mafia hit man from West Springfield, Mass. He is serving a life sentence in the Hazelton penitentiary in West Virginia for the 2003 killing of the leader of the Genovese crime family in Springfield.Mr. Davis said he was baffled that the prison had not done more to keep Mr. Bulger “away from a convicted organized crime hit man from Massachusetts.”The United States attorney’s office in West Virginia said Wednesday that it and the F.B.I. were investigating Mr. Bulger’s death as a homicide. To protect the integrity of the investigation, the office said, it would not release further details at this time.Mr. Bulger was serving two life terms in prison for his role in 11 murders committed when he controlled the Boston underworld over several decades.Mr. Bulger had been in a wheelchair for several years, according to Henry Brennan, one of Mr. Bulger’s lawyers.“He could stand up by himself, but he could not walk,” Mr. Brennan said in an interview Wednesday. “He was looking forward to getting out of solitary confinement to try to teach himself how to walk again.”He said that Mr. Bulger damaged his hip during his two years of pretrial incarceration in solitary confinement.“He was continuously falling off the bed and injuring his hip,” Mr. Brennan said, adding that his inability to exercise also contributed to several health problems.In his younger days, Mr. Bulger was a fitness fanatic who obsessed over taking care of his body and keeping in top physical condition.Serge F. Kovaleski contributed reporting in New York, and Kate Taylor contributed reporting in Boston.
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