Black Mass movie connected to Tulsa

Posted at 4:08 PM, Sep 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-18 17:08:46-04

As Black Mass, the movie that chronicles the life of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger is released, moviegoers will see how a Tulsa murder helped convict the long-time gangster. Here is a look at the connection.


Tulsan Roger Wheeler was one of 19 victims in which Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger played a part in the murder.

TIMELINE: History of Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger, 16 years on the lam

Wheeler was the former chairman of Telex Corp. and the owner of World Jai Alai, a gambling enterprise from which Bulger and fellow gangster Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi had been skimming money.

Wheeler discovered the thefts which threatened to unravel Bulger's skimming operation.

According to a 2001 Golf Digest article, Wheeler had a routine every Wednesday that included a round of golf with buddies, followed by a drink of Scotch and a chocolate chip shake.

Bulger and his crew were aware of Wheeler's mid-week routine.

On Wednesday May 27, 1981, Wheeler was shot between the eyes in his car in the parking lot of Southern Hills Country Club. He was 55-years-old and the father of five.

Aerial video of the crime scene can be seen in the player above.

The killer would later be identified as Winter Hill Gang hitman John Martorano. In March 2001, Martorano confessed to nearly 20 murders, including Wheeler's. He was sentenced to 15 years, but served only six and was released in 2007.

In the spring of 1982, Bulger and Flemmi gunned down a former henchman in broad daylight on a South Boston street to prevent him from telling about the Wheeler murder.

Flemmi pled guilty in March of 2001 to his role in Roger Wheeler's murder among many others. He is currently serving a life sentence.

Bulger was arrested June 23, 2011 in Santa Monica, California after 16 years on the run. He was found guilty in Boston on Aug. 12, 2013 on 31 counts, including his involvement in 11 murders.

Bulger has charges pending against him in Tulsa County. He's charged with Murder in the First Degree and Conspiracy to Commit Murder in the First Degree. However, the District Attorney's office is third in line as they wait for the appeals process in Boston and charges in Florida.

RELATED STORY: Retired Tulsa police sergeant looks back on Whitey Bulger

MOVIE REVIEW: Johnny Depp is excellent. But the star attraction here? That's the stunning story itself.