John McIntyre was a fisherman, a man of the sea, and a man sailing in troubled waters in late 1984.
McIntyre had just returned to shore on a boat named the Valhalla that had sailed all the way from Gloucester to the coast of Ireland and back across the Atlantic to Boston in the season of stormy weather. He’d been the engineer, indeed the jack-of-all trades, and the heroic crewman who’d gotten his crew of criminal landlubbers there and back, though the windows had been smashed out and the boat damaged.
He had been on a mission to run guns supplied by IRA supporters in Boston, including Whitey Bulger and Charlestown drug trafficker Joe Murray. But it was a failure. The Irish Navy had intercepted the IRA’s boat that offloaded the Valhalla’s million-dollar freight of guns, ammunition, bulletproof vests, and plastique. McIntyre had risked his life in heavy seas to transfer the guns in a rowboat while pulling himself hand over hand on a line connecting the two ships at sea. And though the Valhalla got away, a British surveillance plane had photographed and identified it. Authorities on this side of the Atlantic were searching for it.
The wave that capsized McIntyre began onshore, when just back from sea, he went to visit his girlfriend in the Quincy apartment they shared. He had spoken with her on the phone to tell her he was coming over, but their relationship was rocky and when she didn't answer the doorbell, he climbed up the balcony to the second floor and tried to get in the back door. Soon he was at the center of flashing blue lights and in custody after Quincy police found an old warrant for his arrest on charges of operating under the influence.
As if to purge himself of all his troubles, the inebriated mariner began to tell the cops a tale far beyond his broken romance.
Realizing McIntyre’s account was taking them into deep waters, the responding officer called Quincy Detective Richard Bergeron to make sense of what McIntyre was saying. Bergeron was one of the few—the brave few—who were actively investigating Whitey Bulger at the time. He was working with the Drug Enforcement Administration and an agent named Steven Boeri, who is my cousin. The two had followed Bulger and his partner, Stephen Flemmi, on their daily routines and had successfully bugged Bulger’s car for a time.
When Bergeron heard McIntyre talking about gun running, drug shipments, and a boat load of marijuana headed to Whitey Bulger, he brought in Boeri. “I just feel like I’m trapped in this whirpool and can’t get out of it,” McIntyre confided to Bergeron and Boeri, in a conversation the agent recorded.
McIntyre told them about being part of a “cell,” almost like the IRA, in which you know people only by their first name. He described his involvement running bales of marijuana into ports from ships offshore for a major drug smuggler, “Joe” (Murray) of Charlestown, who was partnered with a South Boston operation run out of the South Boston Liquor Mart. McIntyre said he worked with two guys he called “Pat” (Nee) and “Kevin” (Weeks), and they worked for a guy who’d just as soon “put a bullet in your head.”
“I’d just like to start having a normal life,” McIntyre says during the taped interview. But nothing that followed would bring McIntyre to a normal life.
“So you want to cooperate with the government?” asks Boeri.
“Yeah. If you can get me out of this jam. See if I can straighten out my life.”
Boeri says, “Okay. Now what are you going to talk about. Guns or dope?”
McIntyre responds, “Drugs.”
Thirty-six tons of marijuana were coming into Charlestown aboard a ship named the Ramsland, McIntyre told officials. The feds and local police were all over the ship when it came into the harbor on November 14.
McIntyre went missing two weeks later.
After he and Steven Boeri had questioned McIntyre, Bergeron had called in the FBI, never suspecting Bulger and Flemmi were secret FBI informants or the lengths the Bureau had gone to protect them.
The FBI agent assigned to work with the DEA and Quincy Police was Rod Kennedy. Bergeron told him that McIntyre was cooperating. Then Kennedy got the whole story from McIntyre—of the Valhalla, the gun running with one of Bulger’s associates, Pat Nee, and the drug operation in which Bulger was a partner. Afterward, Kennedy didn’t tell Boeri or Bergeron that he knew Bulger was an FBI informant.
Soon enough, FBI agent John Connolly knew as well that there was an informant talking about his own top informants. Whether he found out from Kennedy, who regularly shared information with him, or from others, was never determined. And Connolly did what he had done twice before, Flemmi told investigators in 2003. He informed Bulger that one of two individuals on the Valhalla crew, either McIntyre or the captain, Robert Anderson, was talking. And Weeks says Bulger told him that “Zip,” their nickname for Connolly, “had heard about Bergeron having an informant on the Valhalla.”
Bulger bet it was McIntyre. So he had Pat Nee, one of his fellow gunrunners, pick McIntyre up and drive him over to The Haunty in South Boston to what McIntyre thought was a party. Nee was the last person McIntyre was seen with. Nee had him carry a case of beer into The Haunty, so his hands were engaged when he walked through the door into the cold stare of Bulger and a .22 rifle Bulger had cut down into a pistol with a silencer. McIntyre fell backwards.
Confronted by Bulger, McIntyre admitted he had been an informant on the Ramsland drug shipment. He was not the only one as it turned out, according to agents. But he swore he had not tipped off the Valhalla. He was telling the truth, it was later revealed, because a British mole in the IRA had given up the gunrunning operation. “I’m sorry. I was weak,” Weeks heard McIntyre say. Bulger told him “to calm down.” Just what he had said to Bucky Barrett.
Kevin Weeks on being there for the murders
Flemmi told investigators there had been no discussion about murdering McIntrye beforehand. Bulger, however, was the chief decider. And as soon as McIntyre walked down into the basement, Bulger started strangling him with a rope. It was too thick. He only gagged and vomited. “Would you like one in the head?” Weeks remembers Bulger asking. “Yes, please,” was the answer. So, Bulger shot him in the back of the head, Flemmi will testify. Then he shot him a couple times more, just to be sure he was dead.
“It’s pretty obvious what happened,” McIntyre’s brother Chris said years later. “It was Bulger and Flemmi who pulled the trigger and Mr. Connolly of the FBI who let them know who to do it to.”
On that Sunday in October 1984, Boeri’s tape recorder had memorialized John McIntyre’s search for salvation. “You don’t know where you’re going to end up, or what kind of demise you’re going to come to,” McIntyre had lamented.
At 32, he ended up in a hole in the basement floor dug by Weeks while Flemmi pulled his teeth out with his standard Channellock pliers. Flemmi even pulled out his tongue, joking to Weeks that “he won’t be using this no more.”
After his brother disappeared, Chris McIntyre says, FBI agents paid a visit to his grief-stricken mother. “They were, in detail, describing to my mother how John’s body was fed through a meat grinder.” That story wasn’t true, but sources told me that Bulger and Flemmi put that information out there to scare others from becoming informants. In conveying Bulger’s intended message, the FBI did its job well.
Weeks, in handcuffs, led investigators to a secret gravesite
Years later, McIntyre’s bones emerged on a bitterly cold night in January 2000, after Kevin Weeks led a team of state police and a DEA agent to the spot where he said he had helped Bulger bury them. Confronted by bones and witnesses he could not silence, Flemmi would plead guilty three years later to the charges against him, including the murder of McIntyre and nine others. A key part of the agreement with federal prosecutors spared him from being charged with the death penalty in Oklahoma and Florida, for the 1981 murder of businessman Roger Wheeler.
Standing in federal court in 2003, Flemmi apologized to the families of his victims. His partner Whitey Bulger was still a fugitive. But when Bulger was arrested and brought back from California in 2011, I saw Chris McIntyre in the courtroom again. “What I know is that Flemmi is a ★★★★★★’ monster,” said McIntyre. “But he apologized to us. That’s something the FBI hasn’t done.”
My Link to Angus
In 1708 we drowned together whilst gun running (cannon and powder). He was a Irish French agent supply arms to the Spanish Bourbon side against the Habsburg in the War of the Spanish Succession. I was Raveneau de Lussan and my ship was the “Vaillant” sailing under French colours and we were jumped by three Spanish ships off of the north coast of Menorca. It was a deal that was went wrong, they wanted the cannon and powder didn’t want to paid for them: “C'est la vie et la guerre!”
Shades of the “Valhalla!”