(RNN) - James “Whitey” Bulger, the gangster who became infamous for his time as a crime boss in South Boston, was killed Tuesday in a West Virginia maximum security prison, according to multiple reports.
Bulger, 89, had been transferred Monday to the federal facility USP Hazelton. The Boston Globe reported another inmate with mob ties was under investigation for the killing, based on unnamed sources briefed on the situation.
The New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon that at least two inmates had killed Bulger, according to two Federal Bureau of Prisons employees.
He was found unresponsive at around 8:20 a.m. The Preston County, WV, Medical Examiner pronounced him dead.
A statement from spokeswoman Stacy Bishop said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia and the FBI is conducting an investigation into the death of Bulger, and no other information would be released at this time.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday afternoon that Bulger’s death is being investigated as a homicide, according to a prison union official.
Bulger was convicted in 2013 on multiple racketeering charges, including participating in 11 murders, and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus 5 years. The mob boss and former FBI informant had been at the top of the Most Wanted list, spending 16 years on the run until his capture in 2011.
Born Sept. 3, 1929, in “Southie,” Bulger had his first arrest at 13 and was robbing banks in multiple states before the age of 30. He spent nine years in prison, including time at Alcatraz, before coming home in the ’60s and joining the Winter Hill Gang.
Bulger sanctioned numerous killings while operating in the organized crime scene until the ’90s, when he was forced to go on the run. He and his partner Stephen Flemmi also became informants beginning in the mid-'70s, turning over information on rivals as they seized control of bookmaking, drugs and other criminal operations.
Bulger’s FBI handler, Special Agent John Connelly, tipped him off when law enforcement began to close in on him. He went on the run with his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, who would later receive an 8-year prison sentence for helping Bulger elude the authorities.
His exploits would be retold in the book “Black Mass,” written by two Globe reporters who had covered his crimes. The story was made into a film of the same title in 2015 starring Johnny Depp as Bulger, and his life also inspired the Oscar-winning film “The Departed.”