When one thinks of leadership, James “Whitey” Bulger does not necessarily hit the top of the list, but three teen girls who were working on a leadership project decided to reach out to the notorious criminal. Brittany Tainish, Mollykate Rodenbush, and Michaela Arguin chose the notorious crime boss, thinking that the choice would help their project stand out. They were stunned to receive the handwritten reply, “My life was wasted.”
Bulger‘s words were the first known acknowledgement of any wrongdoing he had issued. Bulger was convicted on 11 counts of murder and is currently serving a double life sentence as he awaits his appeal, which should be heard in the coming weeks. He was convicted in 2013 on a racketeering charge that included involvement in 11 murders. He was captured after being on the run for his crimes for 16 years. His statement, “My life was wasted,” came as part of a letter to three Boston teens who chose Bulger as their leader to profile in order to make their project submission stand out.
The girls were stunned to receive a response from the South Boston mob boss, who claimed in his handwritten letter that he was “a myth created by the media to help them generate Revenue and to hurt a relation because they didn’t appreciate his independence and daring to support an agenda they opposed.”
It’s statements like that in the letter that led some to believe that Bulger was not the slightest bit apologetic for his life of crime. Patricia Donahue’s husband, Michael, was shot and killed by Bulger in 1982. While she added that it was “normal” for Bulger to write caring statements about his family — he commented in the letter that his younger brother, William, was a better man than he was and that he’d brought shame to his parents — she also added, “He doesn’t care about anybody else. I’m sure he doesn’t have any remorse about anyone he’s hurt or killed.”
One of the arresting officers in the Bulger case noted that while the crime boss may have said, “My life was wasted,” there was no element of remorse or apology to the man’s words. “It’s typical Whitey,” said retired Massachusetts State Police Colonel Thomas Foley, who led the investigation into Bulger’s criminal lifestyle. “All he feels bad for is himself.”
While Bulger did not answer the teens’ questions, he did offer them a solid piece of advice. “I know only one thing for sure – if you want to make crime pay – ‘Go to Law School.’ “
The girls had created a website that chronicled Bulger’s life of crime, and while they did not win the state competition, organizers noted that the three had taken a risk and contributed to the understanding of one of Boston‘s most notorious criminals. While few would think that Bulger led a peaceful life, there might now be some that might disagree with his belief that his “life was wasted.”
[Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe]