James “Whitey” Bulger’s murder and racketeering trial has been going on for six weeks now and a parade of colorful witnesses have been through the court testifying against the aging mobster. However, there are witnesses who were killed in the 1970s and 1980s who could testified to the torrent of violence that followed Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang in Boston at the time. The methods of murder variedNow, in this decade, there’s another potential witness to add to the long list.
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Stephen “Stippo” Rakes (59) was to be a witness for the government when his body was found Wednesday afternoon in Quincy, MA. The Middlesex County D.A Office stated that he was found roughly 30 miles from his home, but showed nothing indicating trauma. Currently the police are in the process of both an investigation and autopsy into Rakes’ demise.
Friend Steve Davis said that Rakes was really looking forward to testifying and was angry that prosecutors weren’t planning to run with him. Davis’ sister Debra Davis was said to be killed by James Bulger. “He said his testimony was going to mean more to this case than anybody else’s, now we’ll never know what he would have said.” Davis said Thursday.
Decades ago Stephen Rakes owned South Boston Liquor Mart until the 1980s when the Winter Hill gang purchased it for the purpose of laundering money and as a front. Kevin Weeks—an associate of Bulger who testified already—mentioned Rakes in passing stating that he didn’t care for Rakes and has lied to authorities in the past about Rakes.
Steve Davis said that his friend was in good health and was in great shape exercising regularly. When asked if Rakes was suicidal Davis pointed to Rakes’ habit of staying in shape as a reason why the potential witness wasn’t suicidal.
Currently, the trial is at the stage with one of Bulger’s closest partners Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi taking the stand. During the trial the two former partners shot glares at each other throughout testimony. He was on the stand for roughly 10 minutes and will continue testimony later today. He described their relationship as “strictly criminal”—or platonic for shady ne’er do wells—and said that Bulger was forceful and overbearing. The two partners worked together roughly every day for 20 years of their business relationship.
The biggest claim was one mentioned by Martorano and other witnesses that Bulger was an FBI informant. He also mentioned that he was one as well and worked closely with corrupt agent John Connolly to get information. From Flemmi’s accounts, Bulger handled the talking and gave info on the mafia based in Boston. Essentially, Bulger was the middleman between the Winter Hill Gang and the FBI as Flemmi gave info to Bulger.
Rakes regularly attended the trial proceedings waiting just in case he was to be put in by the prosecution. Tommy Donahue—whose father Michael died in 1982 through a Bulger hit—said that he didn’t believe Stephen Rakes killed himself as he was usually in a good mood and a pleasure to be around. “He told me on hundreds of occasions that he couldn’t wait to get his day in court. He wasn’t in fear for his life.”
Davis on the other hand believes it was likely foul play saying that he could’ve been poisoned.