Bulger Day 17: Bringing Up the Bodies
A forensic expert took us through the recovered remains of several alleged Bulger victims.
So Whitey Bulger’s on trial and you’re interested in hearing about it, but you’ve got this darn day job and you can’t manage to keep up with all the live tweets. We feel you. Here’s what you missed. (Past coverage here.)
With all the colorful witnesses and salty language in the Whitey Bulger trial, things can start to feel a little cinematic, cartoonish even. But today jurors heard clinical, dispassionate testimony from a non-career criminal (for a change). Former Medical Examiner Anne Marie Mires’s testimony on the excavated remains of several alleged Bulger victims stripped away a lot of the mythos, grounded the trial in some grimly tangible evidence, and reminded everyone that Whitey Bulger was … well, a cruel, vindictive psychopath who killed some very real people with very real families. (Allegedly.)
It also served to corroborate a lot of the testimony delivered by former Bulger confidante Kevin Weeks, whom the jury might be inclined to distrust given he, you know, freely admitted to lying all the time whenever it might benefit him while on the stand on Tuesday. But Weeks detailed three murders—those of Bucky Barrett, Deborah Hussey, and John McIntyre—and back in 2000, he also pointed investigators to the place where he, Bulger, and Stephen Flemmi reburied their bodies (because the house where they’d initially buried them went up for sale). The evidence recovered there, as presented by Mires, didn’t poke many holes in Weeks’s version of events.
Mires showed graphic photos from the excavation in Dorchester in January 2000, where her team dug up three bodies that had apparently been reburied after decomposing in another location. The bones of John McIntyre in particular looked remarkably recognizable as human remains in the photographs, with the skeleton in the fetal position and the remnants of an elastic band from his underwear remaining.
Mires pointed out that the teeth had been removed from the skulls. (Something Bulger asked Flemmi to do to hinder identification, Weeks says.) Barrett and McIntyre both had evidence of gunshot wounds to their heads. Hussey, who Weeks says Bulger strangled, didn’t show evidence either of a gunshot or strangulation. (But physical evidence of strangulation often doesn’t appear on skeletons and the bones that would have shown it were missing. Also, the fact that her body was found in an unmarked triple-grave probably doesn’t suggest a peaceful death.)
As the Globe’s Shelley Murphy noted, Mires spoke matter-of-factly, like a scientist, but the horrified reactions of the victims families throughout the gruesome testimony served as a reminder:
Mires testimony is very cool, clinical, dispassionate, but faces of victims families tell the story: these were real people
— Shelley Murphy (@shelleymurph) July 10, 2013
The day ended as Mires began to get into the excavation at Tenean Beach in Dorchester of Paul McGonagle’s body. (John Martorano admitted to shooting him with Bulger in his testimony.) Twenty years of tidal movement had apparently destroyed much of the body, leaving the bones “pliable, almost the consistency of wet cardboard.” (That’s just a taste of how gruesome the testimony today got.) The jury was dismissed before she reached the end, just in time, coincidentally, for reporters to run over to the arraignment of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, also happening today. So look forward (or look with dread) to more of this tomorrow.