Witness Stephen Rakes spoke out last year after a court decision. Rakes said he was forced to turn over his liquor store to James Whitey Bulger.
Today Stephen Rakes was found dead in Massachusetts.
Rakes was set to testify at the Whitey Bulger trial.
A body found in Lincoln, Mass., is believed to be that of Stephen Rakes, a key witness in the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, ABC News has learned.
Police and federal law-enforcement agencies were tight-lipped Thursday morning about the development even as they offered confirmations that a corpse found on Mill Road in Lincoln was likely that of Stephen “Stippo” Rakes. Lincoln Police marked with crime scene tape a swath of Mill Road where the body was found near a walking path.
“There was a body found in Lincoln,” said Stephanie Guyotte, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office. “No further comment at this time.”
As news of the death was being confirmed, the judge overseeing the Bulger case hunkered down with lawyers in a confidential conference at the South Boston courthouse, where the trial is being held. Bulger, alleged to be a notorious and murderous crime boss and federal informant, is standing trial after being found on the lam in California two years ago.
Federal prosecutors said Rakes was supposed to testify that Bulger and associate Stephen Flemmi threatened his daughter at gunpoint and forced him to turn over his South Boston liquor store, which became Bulger’s headquarters.