Lead witness in Whitey Bulger trial found dead

(PIX11) — Stephen “Stippo” Rakes was scheduled to testify against the infamous mobster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, but was found mysteriously found dead at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Bulger, 83, was on the run from police for 16 years until he was caught summer of 2011. He is now being tried in Boston on account of 19 murders and racketeering.

Rakes, 59, was scheduled to testify against the mobster after he allegedly tried to use brute force to make him give up his liquor store so that the Winter Hill Gang could use it as a front.

Others say that Rakes was desperate to sell, and pushed Bulger’s buttons by asking for more and more money.

“I’m not afraid of him anymore. I can’t wait to get on the stand and look him right in the eyes,” he said. “I come here to represent the victims that are afraid to come here.”

Rakes said he wanted to testify for his friends who had also been muscled into bad situations: “there’s hundreds. And they’re still afraid. Some of them, 40 years later, they’re still afraid,” Rakes has said. “The day I see him in a box, not breathing, will be better.”

But Rakes never got the chance — only a day after he was pulled off the stands without explanation, his body was found in Lincoln, Mass. at 1:30 pm Wednesday.

According to the Middlesex (Mass.) District Attorney’s office, “there were no obvious signs of trauma. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.”

Web produced by Allison Yang

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