It is silly to think that we amateurs get accurate information from the FBI when they are on the trail of a fugitive. They tell us what they think will do the job, and then change their story if they find another angle. I get it. But, there is a pretty big gap between what Whitey Bulger looks like in his newest mugshots and what the FBI told us he would look like, and it feels more like a mistake than a strategy. There is also a huge difference between the way Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Grieg have lived for the past 16 years and what we were told they were probably doing.
Based on the information that the FBI made public, we were looking for a couple with two dogs traveling in a motor home. The FBI released the image above after a sighting in Italy in 2007. Admittedly, they did not confirm that the couple in the image was Whitey Bulger and Catherine Greig, but since they released it, they must have found something credible (or useful) about it.
The FBI also released several photos and age-adjusted composites of Bulger and Greig to help account for all the time that had passed since they went underground in 1995.
Now, of course, we know. Here is what Whitey Bulger looks like, now. Judge for yourself, but it looks to me like the FBI was way off. And it isn’t just Bulger’s looks that they got wrong. He and Greig weren’t living in a motor home, and it doesn’t look like they were anywhere near Italy in 2007. Instead, they spent a bit of time first in Long Island and then in Louisiana remaking themselves before moving to an unassuming Santa Monica California apartment building 15 years ago. 15 years!! And, for the last 15 years, they’ve been low-key, cash-paying tenants. $800,000 in cash was found in their apartment, so who knows how much longer they could’ve held out.
The more of this story that comes out, the clearer it is that the innovative FBI strategy involving PSA’s on daytime TV and social networking sites was what did the trick. For 16 years the FBI did its usual thing, then when they turned to TV and the Internet they caught Bulger and Greig in less than 2 weeks. Impressive.