Potential Witness in Bulger Trial Found Dead

Mystery surrounds the death of Stephen "Stippo" Rakes, the witness who wanted desperately to testify against notorious Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger. Bulger is on trial this month for his involvement in 19 murders, not to mention 13 other counts.

According to Rakes, Bulger held him and his family at gunpoint and taken over the liquor store they owned as a private headquarters for their Winter Hill Gang. He also claimed to have more information up his sleeve. “I’m not afraid of him anymore. I can’t wait to get on the stand and look him right in the eyes,” Rakes told the Boston Herald last month. He had shown up to court to watch every single day of proceedings in Bulger's trial so far. Rakes was shocked to learn earlier this week, however, that he would not be called to the stand to testify.

Rakes was found dead Wednesday near a walking trail in Lincoln, Massachusetts. The cause of death has yet to be determined, though police have suggested suicide. Rakes' friends and family suspect murder, pointing to the fact that Bulger was found without a wallet or a phone, with his car still missing.