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Factbox: Facts about Boston mobster Whitey Bulger

Former Boston organized crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger was returning home on Friday to face 19 counts of murder committed in the 1970s and 1980s, and charges of drug dealing, extortion, money laundering and conspiracy. He successfully outran law enforcement for 16 years.
/ Source: Reuters

Former Boston organized crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger was returning home on Friday to face 19 counts of murder committed in the 1970s and 1980s, and charges of drug dealing, extortion, money laundering and conspiracy. He successfully outran law enforcement for 16 years.

Here are some facts about the 81-year-old who is remembered in Boston lore for his violent temper, sharp mind, and ruthlessly ruling his working-class Irish-American neighborhood known as "Southie."

* Bulger, who acquired his nickname "Whitey" for the shock of blond hair he had as a child, is not an imposing figure, standing at 5' 9", weighing about 160 pounds (73 kg) and being of medium build, the FBI said. He has blue eyes and a light complexion.

* He was physically strong, however. According to court documents and police, Bulger lured one 26-year-old woman, who had wanted to break up with his associate, to her mother's apartment and then wrapped his hands around her neck and choked her to death. Her body was dumped in a shallow grave near a local river. Bulger reportedly tortured another victim at gunpoint for hours before trying to strangle him with a rope and then shooting him dead. He had asked the victim whether he wanted "one in the head."

* Bulger was a meticulous planner who covered his tracks well. In Boston, he helped dig up the decaying remains of three victims buried in a private home's basement when the house was being sold. He also stashed cash around the country to prepare for an eventual run. Police found $800,000 in bills in his Santa Monica, California, hideout when they arrested him.

* Bulger was a master of disguise. He was stopped by police in Wyoming only a short time after he disappeared from Boston in 1995. A fake identification card allowed him to keep moving. Since he disappeared, Bulger had been sighted around the world, in spots including London, Florida and a California movie theater where he saw "The Departed" -- a movie featuring Jack Nicholson based on his own crime spree.

* Bulger was not the only one in his large family who achieved state-wide prominence. He had five siblings including younger brother William Bulger who went into politics and served as president of the Massachusetts Senate for 18 years before going on to lead the University of Massachusetts.

* Bulger, too, had a sense for community service and a softer side, according to published local media reports: He was celebrated in his neighborhood for keeping out drug dealers, assisting elderly ladies crossing busy streets, and handing $60 to a local kid with the directive to purchase himself a new pair of sneakers.