Sunday, August 26, 2012

R.I.P. Teresa Stanley

I was saddened to hear of the death of TERESA STANLEY (71), long-time companion of James "Whitey" Bulger who passed away last August 16 of lung cancer.

I interviewed Teresa on two separate occasions late last year before she knew anything about the cancer. I found her to be haunted by the legacy of personal deception and violent crime left by her ex-common law husband, Whitey Bulger. Teresa was a 26-year old divorcee with four kids when she first met Bulger in 1966. He was not the legendary crime figure he would later become. By her own account, she became comfortable in her life with Bulger, who she knew was in "the illegal gambling business" and possibly a lonshark. She says she did not know of Bulger's many murders.

I first met and interviewed Teresa at Marisola's restaurant in South Boston, a neighborhood bistro well known to the locals. I was introduced to Teresa by Pat Nee, a friend and former criminal rival of Bulger's who, among other things, once did eight years in prison for smuggling guns to the Irish Republican Army back in the 1980s. Teresa used to chuckle whenever I mentioned Pat's name, because she knew Pat didn't care for Bulger, and, in fact, tried to kill him once or twice before they finally formed an uneasy partnership. Teresa later conceded that Nee was probably right in his negative assessment of Whitey.

The second time I interviewed Teresa was over breakfast at the Seaport Hotel on the harbor in Boston. Both interview sessions were lengthy -- two hours or more. And Teresa was very forthcoming and frank about her feelings and emotions. I liked her instantly. My feeling was that she was a good person, very sensitive and sweet, who had made a horrible choice in her life by settling down with a master deceiver like Bulger. She would later pay a heavy price for her associations with Bulger, as she became the subject of FBI and other investigations, was called to testify numerous times at hearings and trials, and was ultimately painted with a "scarlet letter" for having been Bulger's paramour for thirty years.

I spoke with Teresa one last time, earlier this year, when I called her on behalf of Newsweek magazine, who was looking to take her photo to accompany my article. Though she had told no one outside her closest family members of her cancer, she told me. I was shocked. Not only had she just learned of her condition, she was told that the cancer was far advanced. I told her I was sorry and that she deserved better; she was a good person.

There are those who vilify Teresa and hold her partly responsible for Bulger's crimes. I do not. She made a bad choice in love, was perhaps naive, maybe even chose to stick her head in the sand during Whitey's reign of power. When it came out that her lover was alleged to have killed so many people, including young women, she was stunned. When I met her, she still seemed to be partly in a state of shock about the whole thing.

Teresa has now arrived at her place of peace. Let the haters spew their venom. They never had to walk in her shoes.

To read the article that was based, in part, on my interviews with Teresa Stanley, go to following link:

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