Police investigate van found miles from Rakes’ body

WALTHAM, Mass. (WHDH) — There are new developments in the mysterious death of alleged James “Whitey” Bulger extortion victim, Stephen Rakes. His body was found in Lincoln Wednesday and on Friday police were searching a van in Waltham.

Witnesses said a Waltham McDonald’s was crawling with Lincoln police officers Thursday afternoon. The district attorney’s office would not comment on the investigation.

“I saw some people with guns and badges walking around over there across the street,” said Dimitri Belov, who saw police activity.

Belov works across the street. He said investigators were interested in a white van parked in the lot.

“They took some pictures of the van…then about an hour a truck pulled over and picked up the van,” said Belov.

Lincoln is where the body of Stephen Rakes was found Wednesday. Rakes, an alleged extortion victim of James “Whitey” Bulger, was looking forward to testifying at Bulger’s trial, but was told earlier this week prosecutors wouldn’t use him.

The registry of motor vehicles confirmed to 7News that Rakes owns a white van.

Andrew Morris is a teller at the bank across the street from where the police were looking at the van. He said investigators wanted to see the bank’s surveillance tapes.

“They were looking to see if we caught any cars, any activity going in our out of the McDonald’s parking lot. They were interviewing a lot of people coming in and out — seeing if they could find, I would assume regulars and stuff, that just might have noticed anything,” said Morris.

Outside the Bulger trial Friday, a lawyer for Rakes’ ex-wife said he doesn’t think Rakes’ death is connected to the Bulger case.

“The circumstances surrounding it that give it the oxygen that it’s all sucking up right now, but I’m confident that the two things have nothing to do with one another,” said the attorney.

Investigators said Rakes had no visible signs of trauma. They're now waiting on toxicology reports that could take up to several weeks.