Atoka museum details link to Most Wanted fugitive - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Atoka museum details link to Most Wanted fugitive

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James "Whitey" Bulger wrote letters to the director of the Atoka County Museum. (KTEN) James "Whitey" Bulger wrote letters to the director of the Atoka County Museum. (KTEN)
Atoka County Museum director Cindy Wallis, right, reviews her correspondence with James "Whitey" Bulger. (KTEN) Atoka County Museum director Cindy Wallis, right, reviews her correspondence with James "Whitey" Bulger. (KTEN)
The Atoka County funeral of Clarence Carnes was paid for by fellow Alcatraz inmate James "Whitey" Bulger. (Courtesy) The Atoka County funeral of Clarence Carnes was paid for by fellow Alcatraz inmate James "Whitey" Bulger. (Courtesy)

ATOKA, Okla. -- Infamous Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger will forever go down in history as one America's most notorious criminals. He was a fixture on the FBI's Most Wanted list for a dozen years before being nabbed in California in 2011.

Last week, Bulger was killed by fellow inmates just hours after being transferred to a West Virginia prison. He was 89 years old.

But that's not the end of his story.

"Whitey has a strange connection to Oklahoma," said Atoka County Museum director Cindy Willis. "I wrote him a letter back in 2014, which he responded to."

Willis had been curious about a friendship Bulger had with Atoka resident Clarence Carnes.

"It's just a story that's circulated, and I just wanted to find out more about," Willis said.

According to the story, that Carnes and Bulger met after Carnes robbed a gas station and killed its owner back in the 1940s. That was the first of several crimes that sent Carnes to Alcatraz prison in California, where he met Whitey Bulger.

After Carnes died in 1988, Bulger had his body exhumed from a pauper's grave and gave him an elaborate funeral and burial outside of Daisy, Oklahoma.

"Really fascinated with the fact that he cared enough about Clarence Carnes to give him a proper burial," Willis said. But she still wanted to know more, so she kept sending letters to Bulger.

"I thought the idea that she would ever hear from Whitey Bulger is nil," said Gwen Walker, the museum's site manager. 

But Bulger replied three other times months before his death, reveling how he would often visit Carnes' grave, paying respects to his old friend.

"It pleases me to know someone out there knows his name and has interest," Bulger wrote.

"We think of people as wither being good or evil, and he was a mix of both, I guess," Willis said.

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