At a news conference last month, members of the Bulger Fugitive Task Force -- which is made up of representatives from several state and federal agencies -- provided a rare update into the progress of their investigation, which, according to the Boston Herald, involves 13 agents and spends more money than the rest of Boston's FBI units combined.
According to a timeline of his activities provided during that briefing, Bulger was last spotted in London in 2002. He is believed to be in good health and still accompanied by his girlfriend, Catherine Elizabeth Greig. Since his disappearance he is known to have taken out a one-year health club membership in London and opened safe-deposit boxes there and in Ireland. Since Jan. 1, 2004, about 100 Bulger look-alikes have been spotted, about half of them abroad. None panned out.
James J. Bulger, as he looked in the 1980s and, at right, as the Bulger Fugitive Task Force believes he looks today. He was last spotted in 2002, in London.
(Fbi Photos Via AP)
Investigators also displayed a collection Bulger's possessions seized over the years, including books on travel in Europe and the Caribbean and on military history, a pouch of collectible coins, a journal that discusses LSD experiments Bulger participated in while in prison on Alcatraz Island in the 1950s and 1960s, four knives, a skull ring, and Irish and U.S. passports.
"Anniversaries usually are cause for celebration, but this milestone certainly is not," U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said that day. "Ten years is too long."
The families of many of Bulger's victims agree, though many doubt he will ever be apprehended alive and question the resolve to track him down.
"If they wanted to find him, they'd have found him by now. They are afraid of who else he might give up," said Chris Carrabino, 28, who was just a year old when Bulger and Flemmi allegedly killed his grandfather Richard J. Castucci, a Revere, Mass., bar owner and FBI informant.
"To be honest, it is almost too painful to think about. Every time it breaks my heart," said Larry Wheeler, whose father, Roger, was gunned down by a hit man allegedly on Bulger's orders 23 years ago in Tulsa. "Yes, he is on the most-wanted list, but there are a number of people who think he is the least-wanted person. Every arrest has just shown more corruption."
The Boston FBI and U.S. attorney's office, which rarely grant interviews on Bulger, declined to comment. Foley, who said his department and the FBI led parallel and often competing investigations into the Winter Hill Gang for many years, said the victims' skepticism was justified.
"For a long time, the investigation was compromised by resistance on the part of the FBI. Some of them were friends of Connolly and were still trying to protect him and Bulger," Foley said. "Whether it was wiretaps on cell phones or whatever, [Bulger] was always apprised of what we were doing. It was very difficult for me during the whole time period."
At the December news conference, Kenneth Kaiser, the special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office, which has undergone significant turnover since Bulger disappeared in the mid-1990s, said: "Forget about the grand conspiracy theories that we've got something to hide. We don't. I've got a commitment to this city to get this thing resolved."
Foley said he is not optimistic about that happening any time soon. "On a couple of occasions we thought we might have had opportunities [to catch Bulger], but we were always a month or two behind," he said. "It only gets harder because the older he gets, people start to look alike and become harder to identify. By now he can probably blend in pretty easily, wherever he is."