News Column

Whitey Bulger Resigned to a Trip Down 'Electric Highway,' Author Says

July 31, 2013

A despondent-sounding James "Whitey" Bulger expressed little hope in beating the mountain of federal charges against him and even seemed resigned to being put to death for murder in either Florida or Oklahoma in a letter he sent to a former neighbor three months after his June 22, 2011, capture, the woman told the Herald yesterday.

"He felt no hope of ever getting out. He even made reference to getting the chair, except he called it 'the electric highway,'" said Alison McLennan, a Quincy native now living in Utah. Her first novel, titled "Falling For Johnny," tells the story of a teenage girl's unlikely friendship with a violent mob boss who destroyed her family.

McLennan, 42, winner of the first Dennis Lehane fellowship for fiction -- who unwittingly lived near Bulger in Quincy before he went on the lam in 1995 -- said she received the two-page letter in response to a courtesy missive she sent him letting Bulger know her book was based on him. The accused mass murderer wished her good luck, she said.

Meanwhile, the second day of Bulger's defense ended yesterday still without an answer to the million-dollar question of whether he will testify.

McLennan, who has a degree in behavioral science, thinks he will.

"I think he really, really wants to testify, whether he's self-deluded or it's a conscious effort to just spin his own image," she said. "In his mind, he's an anti-hero. If you're going out, go out with a blaze of glory."

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Source: Copyright Boston Herald (MA) 2013