BOSTON — A neighbor said the old man would sit up all night peering through binoculars. A handwritten sign on the apartment door said “Please Do Not Knock” because he slept during the day.
But nearby residents had no idea that the man was really James “Whitey” Bulger, one of most wanted fugitives in the world.
Hundreds of documents and photos released by federal prosecutors Friday offer a detailed look inside the California apartment where Bulger and his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, hid out during 16 years on the run.
In their Santa Monica apartment, investigators found a weekly planner filled with notes on everyday tasks, including laundry, cleaning, picking up prescriptions and going to doctor’s appointments. But they also found holes in the walls filled with handguns, rifles and cash.
Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang who was also an FBI informant, fled Boston shortly before he was indicted in early 1995. He was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives until he and longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig were caught last June. He is currently awaiting trial for his alleged role in 19 murders.
Descriptions and photos of the apartment, as well as interviews with people who knew the couple, were among hundreds of documents unsealed by prosecutors Friday, three days after Grieg was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping Bulger during his years as a fugitive. The documents offer a glimpse into the couple’s life as fugitives.
One photo shows a shelf with a stack of books about gangsters and crime, including several about Bulger himself. Some of the titles include “G-Men and Gangsters;” ”The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger’s Irish Mob,” co-written by Kevin Weeks, Bulger’s former right-hand man; and “A Mob Story” by former Boston Herald reporter Michele McPhee.
But in other parts of the apartment, there are signs of a simple, unexciting existence. The weekly planner contained notes about going to pharmacies — Rite Aid and CVS — and grocery stores, Trader Joe’s and Vons.
Interviews with people who knew them in California — where authorities say they spent most of the 16 years — describe a quiet, older couple who mostly kept to themselves and pretended to be from Chicago.
Joshua Bond, the general manager of the apartment building where they lived, said they were known in the neighborhood as “the old couple that always wore white.” Bulger, he said, always wore glasses and a hat, and always had a beard.
They called themselves Carol and Charlie Gasko, he said.
Bond, who lived next door, said he would sometimes see Bulger through his window sitting up all night with binoculars.
“Bond only ever saw Charlie get mad one time. This was because Bond had startled him. Charlie yelled at him and told him not to startle him again,” a summary of an FBI interview said.
Bond said Bulger gave him several gifts over the years, including a black Stetson cowboy hat, a beard trimmer and workout equipment.
“If Bond had not thought the Gaskos were such a nice old couple, he would have thought that Charlie was trying to get Bond in shape because he (Charlie) was attracted to him (Bond),” the FBI said in its description of the interview.
The photos show holes cut into the apartment walls, where authorities say Bulger hid more than 30 weapons and more than $800,000 in cash. One photo shows handguns visible inside one hole. Another shows a picture of a crucifix taped to a doorframe above a hole in the wall, where it appears the FBI removed a mirror that was hiding it. Another shows stacks of cash.
Other photos show the couple’s separate bedrooms. Bulger’s room is cluttered, with an unmade bed, socks strewn on the dresser and crowded shelves. On one of the shelves is a Valentines’ Day card with a picture of a puppy in front of a big red heart.
Five pairs of sneakers line the top of a shelf, including four identical white pairs with blue stripes.
Associated Press writers Bridget Murphy and Jay Lindsay contributed to this report.