SANTA MONICA, Calif. – As the FBI chased leads on two continents, Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger spent nearly all of his 16 years on the lam in this quiet seaside city, passing himself off as just another elderly retiree, albeit one who kept a .357 Magnum and more than 100 rounds of ammunition in his modest apartment.
Bulger – the FBI’s most-wanted man and a feared underworld figure linked to 19 murders – was captured Wednesday after one of the biggest manhunts in U.S. history. His undoing may have been his impeccably groomed girlfriend.
Earlier this week, after years of frustration, the FBI put out a series of daytime TV announcements with photos of Bulger’s blond live-in companion, Catherine Greig. The announcements pointed out that Greig was known to frequent beauty salons and have her teeth cleaned once a month.
Two days later, the campaign produced a tip that led agents to the two-bedroom apartment three blocks from the Pacific Ocean where Bulger and Greig lived, authorities said. The FBI would not give any details about the tip.
Bulger appeared with his girlfriend in federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon and was ordered returned to Massachusetts to face charges after he waived his right to a hearing. Balding, with a full white beard and glasses, Bulger smiled as law officers led him away.
He faces federal charges that include murder, conspiracy to commit murder, narcotics distribution, extortion and money laundering. Greig was charged with harboring a fugitive.
Bulger had a $2 million reward on his head and rose to No. 1 on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list after Osama bin Laden was killed.