A feared gangster known as “The Rifleman” detailed for a jury on Friday a grisly string of nine killings he says reputed Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger ordered, approved or carried out with his own hands, including the strangling of the witness’ own girlfriend.
Stephen Flemmi said he set his girlfriend’s killing in motion when he blurted out to her something he should not have: that he and Bulger were FBI informants.
Bulger decided Debra Davis knew too much and strangled her in front of Flemmi, the once-loyal Bulger associate told a rapt jury at Bulger’s racketeering trial in federal court.
In rapid succession, the mob turncoat described Bulger’s alleged role in eight other killings during the 1970s and 1980s, when the two men were leaders of the Winter Hill Gang, Boston’s Irish mob.
On Thursday, when Flemmi began his testimony, he and Bulger snarled obscenities at each other in a staredown in court. However, on Friday, Bulger looked straight ahead and took notes on a legal pad during Flemmi’s testimony and did not appear to look at him.
In one of the slayings he recounted, Flemmi said he and Bulger sprayed a telephone booth with gunfire in 1975, killing bar owner Edward Connors, because he was “telling people Winter Hill business,” including details about an earlier murder committed by the gang.
Flemmi said another member of the gang had lured Connors to the telephone booth by telling him he would receive a call there at a certain time. Bulger and Flemmi were waiting for him, Flemmi said.
“We just stepped out from the side of the building — the garage — and shot him,” Flemmi said, matter-of-factly. “We just fired on him.”
Flemmi said Bulger emptied a double-barreled shotgun and a pistol, while Flemmi fired seven or eight shots.
As for the strangling of his girlfriend, Flemmi said he initially refused to go along with Bulger’s plan to kill Davis, whom he had been dating for years. He said Bulger told him to bring Davis to a house Flemmi had bought in South Boston. As soon as they walked in, Bulger grabbed her by the neck and strangled her as he carried her downstairs, Flemmi said.