• Private investigator shares insight on death of Stephen Rakes


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- There are still more questions than answers about the death of former Bulger witness Stephen Rakes nearly a week after his body was found.

    FOX 25's Jarrod Holbrook sat down with private investigator Tom Shamshak Monday to shed some light on what may have happened. Shamshak is a former police chief with more than 30 years of investigative experience.

    "It's an unusual case, given the notoriety of his role in the notorious case of 'Whitey' Bulger," said Shamsak.

    Shamshak tells FOX 25 the details surrounding Rakes' death are suspicious. FOX 25 has discovered that police agree.

    "You could probably rule out right away this was a natural death or an accidental death," Shamsak explained. "We look at either homicide or suicide."

    Many who knew Rakes, including family, don't believe he would commit suicide. Friends say Rakes was looking forward to testifying against reputed mob boss James 'Whitey' Bulger.

    Rakes claimed that Bulger and his crew threatened to kill him and his family if he didn't sell Bulger his South Boston liquor store in 1984. During testimony, former Bulger associate Kevin Weeks claimed Rakes sold the store to them. They later set up their gang's headquarters at the store.

    The Quincy resident was last seen at Moakley Federal Courthouse last Tuesday when he was reportedly told he would not be called to testify.

    "When he departs court, where does he go? Who does he interact with?" Shamsak asked. "Those will be the keys to cracking this case."

    Rakes' body was discovered last Wednesday in Lincoln off of a rural road. His Dodge minivan was discovered 7 miles away in Waltham. Police say he had no phone, wallet, or identification with him.

    "The fact that his wallet and cell phone are missing might suggest he was a victim of a robbery," said Shamsak.

    Shamsak adds that of all the evidence, telephone information would intrigue him the most as an investigator.

    "Callers in and outgoing," he explained. "Who was he speaking to? It's part of that timeline."

    Shamsak adds pinging the phone can also help investigators find which tower was receiving the signal and possibly locate the phone. According to the Middlesex District Attorney, an autopsy has been performed and there were no signs of trauma to the body.

    Shamsak says if it were a homicide, there are other ways Rakes could have been killed that would not leave signs of trauma on the body.

    "What are the other possibilities here?" asked Holbrook.

    "That he ingested something, that he may have been asphyxiated, we just don't know," Shamsak replied.

    Investigators are waiting for toxicology results to come back, which could take weeks. Rakes' funeral is scheduled for Thursday.

    Next Up: