Ghost of Whitey Bulger casts long shadow over cold case arrest

BOSTON, Mass. — Notorious South Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger, murdered in a federal prison in 2018, is casting a long shadow over the arrest of a South Boston man for an unsolved murder dating back to 1984.

61-year-old Michael Lewis was arraigned on a first degree murder charge for the shooting death of 24-year-old Brian Watson.

In September 1984, Watson’s remains were discovered along I-93 south in Manchester, New Hampshire.

For nearly 40 years, the case remained unsolved.

Recently, prosecutors say, a witness provided testimony that corroborated evidence collected in the cold case.

Lewis pleaded not guilty.

In court, a prosecutor revealed a complicated web of shakedowns and two-timing South Boston drug dealers that led directly back to Bulger.

It all started, a prosecutor said, when one of Whitey Bulger’s drug dealers complained to Whitey that a new guy was selling the drug “Angel Dust” in South Boston.

Bulger allegedly shook down the new dealer for $5,000 and demanded $1,000 a week.

On July 16, 1984, Bulger’s shakedown victim and Michael Lewis allegedly went looking for the drug dealer who ratted him out to Bulger.

They allegedly came upon Watson, himself a drug dealer, and told him to get into the car.

“During that ride, Michael Lewis, who had a semi automatic firearm with him, turned around and shot Brian Watson multiple times, killing him,” Prosecutor John Verner told the court.

There is no direct evidence that Whitey Bulger had any involvement in this murder.

But the DA says Whitey’s influence, and the way he ran the streets here in South Boston back in the 1980′s, is all over this case.

“We had a glimpse in the courtroom today of a very different Boston. A Boston we can never allow to happen again. After nearly 40 years, we are reminded of the mayhem and murder inflicted by cold-hearted and corrupt crew of men. This was gang violence and systematic extortion at an evil high,” said Suffolk County DA Kevin Hayden.

In court, it was revealed a new witness recently came forward with new information implicating Lewis.

Lewis’ lawyer is already questioning the new witness’s motives.

“I didn’t hear anything from the prosecutor about the charges that w1 was facing when he came up with this story more than 20 years later or the deal that he made when he agreed to testify against Mr. Lewis,” defense attorney Jamie Sultan said.

Family members said nothing as they quietly left the courtroom.

“I think it’s a stark reminder, while Hollywood and others tend to glorify that era, the criminal actors of that era were not robin hoods or heroes. The human suffering and the toll that was taken from the criminal acts done in that era are still being felt today,” NH Attorney General John Formella said after the hearing.

Michael Lewis is held without bail.

His case will be back in court for another hearing on July 7th.

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