Key Witness in Bulger Case Found Dead

    Stephen Rakes smiles after greeting an acquaintance outside the liquor store he once owned in the South Boston neighborhood of Boston, Thursday, June 6, 2013. Four decades after Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger first rose to power, "Southie" is not what it used to be. The once blue-collar, Irish-Catholic neighborhood, is now an ethnic melting pot that has been invaded by young urban professionals who have gentrified the area and smoothed out its once-rough edges. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

    Michael Dwyer/AP

    Authorities have positively identified a corpse found near a walking path in Lincoln, Massachusetts as the body of Stephen Rakes, a leading witness in the case against notorious Boston mobster Whitey Bulger. A South Boston native in his late 50s, Rakes had planned to testify that Bulger took over his liquor store at gunpoint and turned it into his own headquarters. After identifying the body, police said the death appeared to be a suicide. But close companions of the victim remain skeptical. “[He] would not kill himself. Absolutely not,'' said longtime friend Steve Davis. "He was looking forward to taking the stand. He told me over and over he had a big bombshell to drop." Bulger faces 19 murder charges and 13 other counts.

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