Notorious Boston criminal Whitey Bulger may have been driven to murder by LSD experimentation carried out by the CIA in the 1950s, according to one of the jurors who found him guilty in a massive racketeering case.
Janet Uhlar was part of a 12-person jury who found Bulger guilty in the racketeering case in 2013, which included his involvement in 19 different murders.
However, she regularly corresponded with him between his sentencing in 2013 and his death in 2018 and said that his murderous ways may have been caused by the CIA.
In more than 70 letters over the five-year period, Bulger told her about secret CIA experiments, which involved LSD, which he unwittingly took part in.
The United States intelligence agency dosed Bulger with the hallucinogen more than 50 times while he was serving time in Atlanta in an attempt to find a mind-control drug, according to the Boston Globe.
The information was never brought up in Bulger's federal trial and Uhlar said that it would have prevented her from convicting him of the murder charges. Having said that, she would have still convicted him on several other criminal counts which would have seen him die in prison anyway.
“Had I known, I would have absolutely held off on the murder charges,” Uhlar told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “He didn’t murder prior to the LSD. His brain may have been altered, so how could you say he was really guilty?”
To support her theory, Uhlar pointed to a new book by Brown University professor Stephen Kinzer: “Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control."
The book documents chemist Sidney Gottlieb's role in the CIA as head of the MK-ULTRA mind control project. Kinzer says that Gottlieb carried out secret and brutal experiments on prisoners over three continents in the 1950s to develop mind-control drugs.
Bulger and fellow inmates in Atlanta were offered reduced sentences for their participation in the experiments.
“It was encouraging to know I wasn’t losing my mind, thinking this was important,” Uhlar said.
In 1977, the US Senate held hearings looking into the MK-Ultra Project and Stansfield Turner, then Director of the CIA, said that the drug could prepare someone to kill another person.
“It opens the question of whether (Bulger) was responsible for the murders he committed,” Uhlar said.
On the other hand, a former federal prosecutor argued that acquitting Bulger of the murder charges would have a disastrous effect on his victim's families.
“An acquittal of Whitey Bulger on the murder charges would have just caused additional pain and anguish,” said Paul V. Kelly, who represented one of Bulger's victims.
James "Whitey" Bulger was an Irish-American organized crime boss and FBI informant who led the Winter Hill Gang and was accused of playing a part in 19 different murders.
After Uhlar and her fellow jurors found Bulger guilty, he was sentenced to two life sentences and five additional years in jail.
However, he only served four years in federal prison before he was murdered in 2018 in a penitentiary in Hazleton in West Virginia.
Bulger, who was 89 and in a wheelchair, was brutally beaten to death by inmates at the prison. No one has yet been charged with his murder.