Boston Herald ‘Mangles’ Its Whitey Bulger Dictionary

Is it Dr. Mengele or ... Dr. Mangley?


The Boston Herald provided readers with a glossary of gangster terms being thrown around by witnesses in the trial of Whitey Bulger, including words like the “chop” meaning a gangster’s share of money, or “red,” meaning law enforcement, or, hilariously, “Dr. Mangley” meaning … well according to the Herald, that means:

Dr. Mangley: Bulger’s nickname for Flemmi because of his twisted enjoyment of ripping the teeth from and dismembering murder victims.


Oh that it were so simple and only that mildly sadistic. Someone send the Boston Herald team on over to the Wikipedia page of Dr. Josef Mengele. Bulger actually nicknamed his righthand man Stephen Flemmi “Dr. Mengele” after the Nazi doctor, the “Angel of Death” infamous for performing medical experiments at Auschwitz.

The term came up in court Tuesday when another former Bulger associate, Kevin Weeks, testified that he watched Bulger murder Flemmi’s stepdaughter, Deborah Hussey. Fearing she was still alive, Flemmi used a stick to tighten a rope around her neck and finish the job. Weeks testified that Bulger watched Flemmi’s apparent enthusiasm for the gruesome task. ”Jim gave him the nickname ‘Dr. Mengele,’ because he kind of enjoyed it,” Weeks said.

The “Dr. Mangley” interpretation seems to have originated with Herald reporter Laurel Sweet, who tweeted the incorrect spelling from court Tuesday:

Based on the spelling, the Herald seems to think Dr. Mangley shares some kind of etymological relationship with the verb “mangle.” Of course, when assembling a dictionary, one should probably be sure one isn’t just guessing at the definitions of the terms one chooses to include, much less the terms one puts in the headline. (Oh yes, the article is called: “‘Dr. Mangley’ and words in the wiseguy lexicon.’ Dr. Mangley made the headline!) They’ve done Whitey a kindness, given that the truth—Bulger flippantly compared his enforcer to a sadistic war criminal—actually manages to be even less endearing than the Herald’s version.