BOSTON — FBI agents on the trail of James “Whitey” Bulger are turning to TV ads aimed at women and hoping to exploit his longtime girlfriend’s vanity as they try to bring the fugitive Boston mob boss to justice after 16 years on the run.
The FBI on Monday announced a new publicity campaign and accompanying public service ad that asks people, particularly women, to be on the lookout for Catherine Greig.
She and Bulger have been on the run since 1995 and are thought to still be traveling together. Bulger is wanted in connection to 19 murders while Greig is accused of harboring a fugitive.
The 30-second ad is scheduled to start running Tuesday in 14 television markets to which Bulger may have ties and will air during programs popular with women roughly Greig’s age.
“We are trying to reach a different audience that will produce new leads in the case,” said agent Richard Teahan, who has been tracking Bulger since 2006. “Greig has certain habits, characteristics, and idiosyncrasies that are recognizable, and we think the public might naturally notice these things.”
The new campaign points out that Greig had several plastic surgeries before going on the lam and was known to frequent beauty salons.
It notes that Greig, a former dental hygienist who is 5-foot-6, blue-eyed and blond, had impeccable oral hygiene and perfect teeth as a result of monthly visits to the dentist. It also notes that she, like Bulger, is an animal lover and mentions that she has used the aliases Helen Marshal and Carol Shapeton.
The public service announcement also stresses the age difference between the two. Bulger is now 81. Grieg is 60.
The FBI already had taken out ads in publications aimed at dentists and plastic surgeons.
“The next logical step was to profile her on a national scope,” Teahan said.
The FBI is hoping that a patron or employee of a dental office, hospital, manicurist, beauty salon or other business remembers seeing Greig.
The FBI also doubled the reward leading to Greig’s capture to $100,000. The reward for the capture of Bulger, who is on the FBI’s most wanted list, is $2 million.
Bulger was the leader of the Winter Hill Gang when he fled in January 1995 after being tipped by a former Boston FBI agent that he was about to be indicted. Bulger was a top FBI informant.
The FBI has pursued Bulger around the world. The history buff and avid reader is believed to have traveled in France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Spain and Canada while on the run. The last credible sighting of the couple was in London in 2002.
The current campaign focusing on Greig will be extended internationally, Teahan said.
Despite his age, the FBI said Bulger is still considered dangerous because of his violent temper and is known to carry a knife.
“It is important for the FBI to bring Bulger to justice, and Catherine Greig can lead us to him,” Teahan said.
The ads will be shown in Albuquerque, N.M.; Biloxi, Miss.; Boston; Chicago; Fort Myers, Fla.; Miami; Milwaukee; Mobile, Ala.; New Orleans; Phoenix; San Diego; San Francisco; Tampa, Fla.; and Tucson, Ariz.