Whitey Bulger Witness Found Dead; Stephen "Stippo" Rakes Was 59

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Stephen "Stippo" Rakes, a possible witness in the murder trial of alleged crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger, has been found dead, reports indicate.

The body of Rakes, 59, showed "no obvious signs of trauma" and an autopsy is being done to determine the cause of death, officials said.

The corpse was found yesterday at 1:30 p.m., police said.

Bulger Witness

Rakes had been eager to testify that Bulger threatened his family at gunpoint and forced him to turn his liquor store into a front for the Winter Hill Gang.

But earlier this week, prosecutors informed Rakes he would not be called to testify, a decision that left him "despondent," a source close to his family said.

The judge overseeing the Whitey Bulger trial hunkered down with lawyers in a confidential conference at the courthouse today where the trial is being held.

Bulger, 84, alleged to be a notorious and murderous crime boss and federal informant, is standing trial after being found on the lam in California in 2011.

Rakes was to testify that Bulger and Stephen Flemmi threatened his daughter at gunpoint, and took over his South Boston liquor store for Bulger's headquarters.

However, Bulger sidekick Kevin Weeks testified last week that Rakes' contention that Bulger's gang put a gun to his daughter's head was bogus.

News of his death investigation came on the same day that Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi was slated to take the stand against Bulger as well.

The two men ran the Winter Hill Gang for decades while also working as informants for the FBI, according to prosecutors and courtroom testimony.

Police told the Rakes family the death appeared to be a suicide.

However, a source close to the Rakes family told ABC News early Thursday that "he had no phone, no wallet, and police are still looking for his car."

The body was positively identified as Rakes this morning.

Rakes' longtime friend Steve Davis, whose sister Debbie was allegedly murdered by Bulger, had met him for breakfast daily before court.

Davis said he last saw Rakes Tuesday in court but then couldn't reach him all night Tuesday and yesterday he did not meet him in the courthouse.

"Stippo would not kill himself. Absolutely not,'' Davis told ABC News. "He was looking forward to taking the stand. He told me over and over he had a big bombshell to drop.

"He had everything to live for and was looking forward to his day in court."

Davis - who lost his sister, brother and father to homicide, and whose daughter was killed in a drunk driver accident - was devastated by the news.

"It doesn't make sense,'' Davis said.

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