FBI in media blitz to find mobster Whitey Bulger

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 20, 2011 2:03 PM
FBI in media blitz to find mobster Whitey Bulger

By Ros Krasny

BOSTON (Reuters) - He has been on the run since 1994 and is one of America's most wanted criminals. Now, the FBI is launching a new publicity campaign to find 81-year-old James "Whitey" Bulger, the mobster indicted for 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s.

Authorities are focused on finding Bulger's long-time girlfriend, Catherine Elizabeth Greig, in the hopes she will lead them to the former Boston crime boss.

The FBI has produced a 30-second public service announcement that will begin airing on Tuesday on daytime television programs in ten states and is aimed at female viewers in the same age group as Greig, 60.

The FBI hopes a hair-stylist, manicurist, doctor or other acquaintance might recognize Greig.

"We are trying to reach a different audience that will produce new leads in the case," said Richard Teahan, who leads the Boston FBI task force searching for Bulger and has been tracking the crime boss since 2006.

Greig and Bulger's images will also be placed on a digital billboard in New York's Times Square and at multiple other locations across the United States.

The last credible sighting of the pair was in London in 2002, but Bulger is thought to have traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Latin America.

Bulger, said to be an avid reader and history buff who likes to take long walks on beaches, has been featured on the television show "America's Most Wanted" more than a dozen times between 1995 and 2010.

The FBI offers up to $2 million for information leading to Bulger's arrest, the largest ever reward the agency has offered for a domestic suspect. The reward for information leading to Greig's whereabouts was doubled on Monday, to $100,000.

Teahan said Greig has habits, characteristics and idiosyncrasies that could make her recognizable -- not least of which is the 21-year age difference between her and Bulger.

Greig loves dogs, likes to frequent beauty salons, and had multiple plastic surgeries before fleeing with Bulger. The former dental hygienist has blue eyes, is 5 feet 6 inches tall, and had a thin build when she fled.

Bulger led an organized crime group that allegedly controlled extortion, drug deals, and other illegal activities in and around Boston.

He is the older brother of William "Billy" Bulger, a former president of the Massachusetts State Senate.

Bulger was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in 1999. Besides the 19 murder charges he is also wanted for racketeering, money laundering and narcotics distribution, among other offenses.

The FBI will also publicize the Greig campaign through its Facebook, You Tube and Twitter accounts.

"For 100 years the FBI has known that combining the reach and power of the media with alert citizens is a successful formula for catching fugitives," said Teahan.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny)