Whitey Bulger Trial Witness Stephen Rakes Found Dead

Source:  Tracy Connor / NBC News

A man who had been listed as a witness against James “Whitey” Bulger has been found dead, adding an element of intrigue to a trial that has riveted Boston.

There was no sign of obvious trauma to Stephen “Stippo” Rakes’ body and an autopsy was underway to determine the cause of death, officials said Thursday.

Rakes, 59, claimed that Bulger forced him at gunpoint, while threatening his young daughter, to sell his South Boston liquor store below market value in 1984 so the Winter Hill Gang could use it as a front.

But last week, another witness, former Bulger associate Kevin Weeks, testified that Rakes wanted to sell the shop and tried to shake down the gangsters for more money, sparking a confrontation in which a gun was pulled.

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