Key witness in ‘Whitey’ Bulger trial Stephen Rakes found dead in MA

Stephen Rakes at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston, June 17, 2013.

The body of Stephen Rakes, a key witness in the still ongoing James ‘Whitey’ Bulger trial, was found in Lincoln, Massachusetts on Thursday July 18th.

ABC News reports that local authorities are being “tight-lipped” regarding the death. "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."

Police reportedly told the Rakes family that the death was a suicide. However, a source close to the Rakes family told ABC News that "he [Rakes] had no phone, no wallet, and police are still looking for his car." 

The news of Rakes’ death came the same day that Bulger’s associate Stephen ‘The Rifleman’ Flemmi was due to take the stand against Bulger. Together, Bulger and Flemmi operated the Winter Hill Gang for decades in and around Boston while doubling as FBI informants, according to prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Bulger and Flemmi have reportedly not seen each other for 18 years.

Rakes has been waiting decades for his chance to testify against Bulger. In 1984, Bulger allegedly extorted Rakes’ South Boston liquor store from him at gunpoint while Rakes’ daughters were in the same room, according to The Boston Globe.

However, despite being on the witness list for US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, Rakes was reportedly told on Tuesday that prosecutors did not plan to call him to testify. According to Davis, Rakes was devastated, especially after one of Bulger’s associates, Kevin Weeks, testified that Rakes’ story was bogus.

Steve Davis, whose sister is one of Bulger’s alleged 19 murder victims and a longtime friend of Stephen Rakes, said to ABC News that he and Rakes met daily for breakfast prior to court. Davis said he last saw Rakes on Tuesday in court, but wasn’t able to reach him all night Tuesday, and that he did not show up for their daily breakfast on Wednesday.

"Stippo would not kill himself. Absolutely not,'' Davis told ABC News on Thursday. "He was looking forward to taking the stand. He told me over and over he had a big bombshell to drop. He had everything to live for and was looking forward to his day in court."

"It doesn't make sense,'' Davis said.