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Man with ties to Whitey Bulger indicted in 38-year-old murder of Massachusetts man



Photo courtesy of Suffolk County District Attorney's Office

BOSTON, May 27, 2022—A grand jury on Friday returned a first-degree murder indictment against a Boston man for a 1984 shooting death over a South Boston drug-dealing dispute, Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden announced.

Michael Lewis, 61, was arrested in South Boston by Boston Police on Friday. He will be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday. He is charged with shooting Brian Watson, 23, in July 1984. Lewis was 24 at the time of the murder.

Hayden thanked the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, the New Hampshire State Police, the Manchester N.H. police department, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston and Boston Police for helping secure the indictment in the 37-year-old case.

“This was a true team effort to help indict and charge a homicide that hearkens back to a very different Boston. Brian Watson was a young father cut down seemingly on a whim. A remarkably cold-blooded whim. Mr. Watson’s family has endured many, many years of loss and heartache. At the very least, they now have some answers,” Hayden said.

“We are very pleased that an arrest has been made in this New Hampshire Cold Case. We hope that this significant development brings Brian Watson’s loved ones one step closer to justice and closure,” said New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella. “This arrest represents a tremendous amount of hard work, cooperation and coordination between investigators in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including our team at the New Hampshire Department of Justice. We cannot say enough about how grateful we are to have such strong regional law enforcement partnerships, from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and Boston Police Department to our New Hampshire State Police and Manchester Police Department.”

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Watson was last seen alive on July 16 or 17 of 1984. His mother filed a missing person report with Boston Police on July 28, 1984.

Prosecutors allege that Lewis and another man, both of whom were involved in the South Boston drug trade, were driving on July 16 or 17 in South Boston in search of another drug dealer. Their purpose was to stop that dealer from operating in South Boston. The second man was angry at the dealer because the dealer had told South Boston gang kingpin James “Whitey” Bulger and Bulger associate Kevin Weeks that he, the second man, was dealing angel dust in South Boston. As a result, Bulger demanded $5,000 immediately from the second man, followed by $1,000 a week.

While looking for the dealer, Lewis and the second man encountered Brian Watson. The second man asked Watson to lead them to the dealer. Watson agreed. Watson entered the vehicle and sat in the back seat.

While the three men drove around South Boston, Lewis suddenly turned, shot and killed Watson. The two then drove into New Hampshire and dumped Watson’s body off I-93 South in Manchester.

On September 16, 1984, a man who had pulled over on I-93 South in Manchester discovered a decomposed body, obscured by bushes and trees, about 40 feet from the road. The man called 911. Manchester Police and New Hampshire State Police responded. The body was eventually identified as Brian Watson through dental records.

A lengthy investigation by New Hampshire State Police, Manchester Police and Boston Police ensued. Investigators made some headway but were unable to solve the case. Information developed through the US Attorney’s Office in Boston provided a significant break in the case in 2009, but still not enough to secure an indictment.

Further information developed by investigators this year provided sufficient evidence to move forward with Friday’s indictment of Lewis.

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