Man facing a murder charge in 1984 drug dispute linked to several men, including ‘Whitey’ Bulger

A South Boston man is facing a first-degree murder charge for a 1984 shooting that prosecutors say stems from a drug-dealing dispute linked to several men, including late Southie mob boss, James “Whitey” Bulger.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office says a grand jury indicted Michael Lewis, now 61, for killing Brian Watson, 23. Watson’s body was found in New Hampshire two months after he was shot. Michael Lewis was 24 at the time of the shooting.

Prosecutors say Lewis and an associate - both of whom were drug dealers - were searching for a third drug dealer who had apparently told Whitey Bulger that Lewis’ associate was dealing angel dust in South Boston. As a result, prosecutors say, Bulger demanded $5,000 immediately from that Lewis associate, followed by $1,000 a week.

That unnamed associate of Lewis’ was “angry” that Bulger had been told about his operations, according to investigators.

While looking for that third drug dealer, Lewis and his associate ran into Watson and asked him to help them find that other drug dealer, according to the district attorney.

“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,” according to the district attorney. Watson was identified through dental records.

1984 murder victim Brian Watson. Credit: NH Department of Justice

“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,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden. “Mr. Watson’s family has endured many, many years of loss and heartache. At the very least, they now have some answers.”

Prosecutors say new information developed by investigators this year provided “sufficient evidence” to move forward with the indictment of Lewis.

Lewis will face a judge on Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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