Hidden City Crime Files: Boston
The Great Brinks RobberyWho: The Great Brinks Robbery was carried out by 11 men. The 4 main organizers of the heist were Joseph "Specs" O'Keefe, Joseph "Big Joe" McGinnis, Atonia Fat Pino and Stanley "Gus" Gusciora. Pino recruited 7 others to help with the job -- Vincent Costa, Michael Vincent "Vinnie" Geagan, Thomas Francis Richardson, Adolph "Jazz" Maffie, Henry Baker, James Faherty and Joseph "Barney" Banfield.
What: After several aborted attempts, the men finally felt the time was right. Each wore a navy pea-coats, gloves and rubber-soled shoes. This helped minimize fingerprints and noise. The men surprised employees of the security firm Brinks, Inc., as they were unloading cash, checks and other valuables into the company’s safe. They tied up the employees and made off with $1.2 million in cash and $1.5 million in checks and securities. At the time, it was the largest bank robbery in US history.
Where: The thieves broke into the Brinks Building on Prince Street in Boston.
When: The robbery took place on Jan. 17, 1950, at 7:30pm.
Follow-Up: There was very little evidence at the crime scene. After months of work, leads started to emerge and suspects were identified. Eventually O’Keefe, who was in jail for other crimes, told investigators about the robbery. This led to the arrest of 8 of the guys. (Gusciora was already in jail and Banfield was dead. Their trial began on Aug. 6, 1956. O’Keefe received a 4-year sentence, Gusciora died in jail and the other 8 all received life imprisonment but were paroled by 1971 (except for McGinnis who passed away in jail).
In the Media: There have been 4 movies made about the robbery -- Six Bridges to Cross, Blueprint for Robbery, Brinks: The Great Robbery and The Brink's Job.
Whitey BulgerWho: James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger was born on Sept. 3, 1929. He grew up in South Boston. Bulger spent time on the streets and was arrested for the first time at age 14 for larceny. After some time in the Air Force, Bulger moved back to Boston and continued his life of crime.
What: Bulger worked for the Irish mob boss Donald Killeen in Boston. He went on to rule the criminal underworld of South Boston and run the Winter Hill Gang. Loansharking, bookmaking, hijacking, narcotics, Whitey ran it all. He was a ruthless killer, said to have been responsible for 19 murders. He was one of Boston’s most notorious crime bosses.
In 1974 Whitey became an FBI informant. He was feuding with Mafia boss Gennaro "Jerry" Angiulo; what better way to get back at him than by tipping off the authorities? Throughout the 1980s the Winter Hill Gang continued to rule South Boston, and Bulger ran both drug trafficking and gambling operations. After being tipped off by an informant that the DEA was going to bring charges against him, Whitey went on the run with his girlfriend Catherine Greig.
Bulger was on the run for 16 years when a tip from a woman led authorities to Santa Monica, CA. He and Greig were arrested on June 22, 2011. Bulger has pleaded not guilty to the 48 charges brought against him including murder, extortion and narcotics distribution. He is awaiting trial. Catherine Greig is seeking release on bail claiming she did not habor a fugitive.
Where: Bulger grew up in South Boston, the same area from which his Winter Hill gang later ran their operation. The story recently took a turn when Bulger was discovered in Santa Monica, CA, and finally arrested. He and Catherine Greig were brought back to Boston for trial.
When: Since his youth in South Boston in the 1940s, James Bulger has had an influence over the city. His story is still playing out today as he awaits trial.
In the Media: There have been several books written about Bulger including one by Kevin Weeks who had been a member of his gang. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon announced earlier this year that they will be developing a movie based on the life and crimes of Whitey Bulger.
The Boston StranglerWhat: Over a 2-year period, 13 women were sexually assaulted and strangled. They ranged in age from 19 to 85 and were from different ethnic groups.
Who: The “who” is the biggest question in this case. In 1964, rapist Albert DeSalvo confessed to the killings. He gave a detailed confession with facts not known to the public, but there was no physical evidence to tie him to the crimes. DeSalvo went to prison for other crimes and was later found stabbed to death in Walpole State Prison.
Subsequent analysis indicates that many of the facts in DeSalvo's confession don’t match what was found at the crime scenes. This development suggests that the 13 murders were actually committed by several people and not one lone individual.
Where: The murders happened throughout the Boston area, from Cambridge to Salem to Lawrence.
When: The murders took place between 1962 and 1964.
In the Media: Many books and movies have been made on both the Boston Strangler case and Albert DeSalvo personally. The most well-known film was The Boston Strangler starring Tony Curtis. The Rolling Stones' song "Midnight Rambler" is also based on the case. The website bostonstrangler.org is run by both DeSalvo's family and the family of one of he victims, Mary A. Sullivan's. It is dedicated to using modern advances in criminal investigations to help prove DeSalvo's innocence and find the real killer.