James “Whitey” Bulger, the Boston crime boss who was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s Frank Costello in The Departed, wrote three teens through their school’s leadership program and no, this is not a joke.

In 2011, Bulger was found hiding out in Southern California after more than ten years on the lam. He was transferred back to Boston, where the 85-year-old was convicted of 11 murders. He’s currently serving life at a federal penitentiary in Sumterville, Florida.

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In February, three 17 year-olds from Apponequet Regional High School in Lakeville, Mass. created a website about Bulger for a National History Day competition on “leadership and legacy,” according to the Boston Globe, and wrote to the aging crime boss. None of them thought he would actually answer their letter.

“It wasn’t what we were expecting at all,” said Brittany Tainsh, who was stunned when Bulger’s letter arrived in her mailbox, among a flurry of college brochures. “He did not really reply to any of our actual questions. He was very apologetic.”

Amazing.

The teens posted the hand-written letter to their website. Here is Bulger’s letter to the teens:

Feb. 24, 2015

1:10 a.m.

Hello, Brittany:

I’m sorry but I can’t help you with your school project — There are many people more deserving of your time and interests. I’m a myth created by the media to help them generate Revenue and to hurt a relation because they didn’t appreciate his independence and daring to support an agenda they opposed.

May I suggest you and Molly create a website about the heroic service men of Mass. that are patients in, for instance, Walter Reed Veteran Hospital — good men isolated from society due to war wounds — life for some in pain and loneliness — hearing from school girls that care would do wonders for their morale and recovery.

Don’t waste your time on such as I — we are society’s lower, best forgotten, not looked to for advice on “Leadership”. I’m a 9th grade dropout from school and took the wrong road — my brother 5 years younger applied himself in school and worked hard and spent 40 years in Mass State House and retired and was the President of Mass Senate in State House for second term and President of U. Mass after Retirement. Had 9 children all college graduates and 4 lawyers among them. A Better Man than I.

My life was wasted and spent foolishly, brought shame and suffering on my parents and siblings and will end soon — Advice is a cheap commodity some seek it from me about crime — I know only thing for sure — If you want to make crime pay — “Go to Law School.”

Brittany Best of Luck in the future to you and Molly and Michaela.

Sincerely James Bulger

Tainsh and her friends Michaela Arguin and Mollykate Rodenbush said they chose Bulger for their project because even though he brutally murdered a bunch of people, he was a leader, you know?

“I think the most interesting aspect of the letter is that he was almost regretful and nostalgic, but not in a positive way,” Rodenbush said.

“If we picked a dead president, we wouldn’t have got a letter,” Arguin said. “Nobody else in the entire competition had a letter [to them] from the person they did the project on.”

Look, Michaela’s not wrong, ok?

But not everyone was impressed with Bulger’s letter, including Patricia Donahue whose husband was shot and killed by Bulger in 1982.

“I don’t think he’s changed at all,” Donahue said, noting that Bulger’s letter only referred to the suffering of his own family, not that of his victims or their families. “All he cares about is his family, which is probably one of the only normal things about him. He doesn’t care about anybody else. I’m sure he doesn’t have any remorse about anyone he’s hurt or killed.”

But Donahue did agree with at least one thing he wrote.

“He is a wasted life,” she said.

Bulger is currently trying to appeal his 2013 convictions, for which he’s serving two consecutive life sentences.


Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.

Image via NBC News.