Kevin Cullen

A crack in Cathy Greig’s hard facade

Cathy Greig, the famously composed and seemingly cold companion of Whitey Bulger, was sitting at the defendant’s table, answering questions from Judge Douglas Woodlock when, suddenly, she started to melt.

Have you, the judge asked, ever been under the care of a psychiatrist?

It was a routine question, posed to make sure she was of sound mind as she pleaded guilty to helping her gangster boyfriend stay on the lam for 16 years.


But the question floored her. It transported her back to May 19, 1984. To her family’s triple-decker on East Fourth Street in South Boston. To a corner bedroom, where her 26-year-old brother put the barrel of a blue Smith & Wesson .38 Special against his right temple and pulled the trigger.

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And, as those memories flooded back, Cathy Greig did something she had never done in public before: she cried.

“It was after a suicide in my family,’’ she told the judge, between sobs. “ ’84.’’

She quickly regained her composure and did not mention her brother.

David Greig, who was close to Cathy, suffered from depression. He self-medicated with drugs and alcohol but that only made it worse.


The gun was still in his right hand when they found him. Remembering all this, Cathy Greig cried. Her veil dropped and, for a moment at least, she was no longer a cold, calculating moll, but a sister who still mourned a brother, 28 years after he went into a black hole and couldn’t climb out.

Her cheeks were dry by the time Steve Davis got up to ask her the most logical question: If she could cry for her own family, why couldn’t she cry for his? Why couldn’t she cry for any of the others whose loved ones were put in a real black hole, allegedly by Whitey Bulger, the Whitey Bulger who Greig loved and protected all those years.

Davis’s sister, Debbie, was put in one of those black holes, a shallow, watery grave under the Neponset River Bridge. Bulger is accused of strangling her because she wanted to leave her boyfriend, Stevie Flemmi, Bulger’s partner in crime, and because she knew too much.

Steve Davis reminded Greig there were many people in the courtroom thinking of dead loved ones.

“My mother isn’t alive,’’ he said, referring to Olga Davis, who died in 2007, not knowing if her daughter’s killer would ever face justice even as Greig was posing as Bulger’s wife, fetching him prescriptions, in Santa Monica.


If David Greig died in the dark, so did Olga Davis.

Steve Davis accepted that Cathy Greig could cry for her family, but he resents that his family and others cried at least 16 years too long because of Greig.

“She’s a monster,’’ he said, as Greig looked at the floor. “She doesn’t deserve a break.’’

David Greig’s suicide crushed Cathy. She quit her job teaching dental hygiene. It always mystified people that she could set up house with a man accused of killing two of her brothers-in-law, Donnie and Paulie McGonagle. But people who know her say one of the reasons she was so devoted to Whitey is because he helped her through the months and years after her brother’s suicide.

But that only leaves Bulger’s victims more confused. And now they have one big question: If she could cry for her brother, why couldn’t she cry for them?

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.