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Chicago Tonight | Jay Shefsky | May 3, 2018

Quest for ‘Lost City’ Leads Chicago Man on Risky Jungle Expedition


The story traces the 20-year quixotic obsession of a few guys that blossomed into a world-renowned scientific, historical and archaeological breakthrough. Pals since the 1970s, Weinberg and expedition leader Steve Elkins and his expert team uncover incontrovertible evidence of a previously unknown civilization.

It includes the author’s private journals written in Honduras, plus more than 180 photographs and Weinberg’s deep reflections on his “Adventure of a Lifetime.”

The reader is brought into the world of the discoverers, complete with dangerous snakes and insects, gorgeous untouched beauty, exhilaration and a rare disease that came with the discovery.

It’s a great read and the pictorial and personal companion to the 2017 New York Times #1 bestseller, Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston (Grand Central, 2017.) Preston calls Weinberg “The Official Chronicler” who wrote on his laptop in impenetrable Mosquitia Jungle.

By his own admission, Tom Weinberg is not the kind of guy you’d expect to embark on a dangerous jungle expedition.

“I was 70 years old, a desk-sitting urban Jewish TV/video guy who never spent a night sleeping on the ground in a jungle.” That’s how Weinberg begins his new book “Chasing the Lost City: Chronicles of Discovery in Honduras.”

The 2015 expedition was the culmination of a 20-year quest by Weinberg, a lifelong Chicagoan and longtime independent video producer, and his longtime friend Steve Elkin, to find evidence of an ancient abandoned city in the Honduran jungle. They are not archeologists or explorers themselves, but they got filmmakers and archeologists, as well as jungle experts and the Honduran government, to help with their search.

They succeeded in entering a part of the jungle believed to be untouched by humans for hundreds of years. And they did find evidence of human habitation as recently as the mid-15th century.

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DENVER – As the story of Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger hits theaters Friday, a Denver man is sharing his memories about the five years he spent in the gang. 

Eric Schneider moved to Colorado after testifying against his former partners, sending some to prison. The witness protection program gave him his new alias when he relocated. 

Bulger eluded police for years before he was convicted in 2013 of 11 murders he committed or ordered in the 1970s and ’80s. 

Once America’s most wanted man, he’s now serving two life sentences. 

“The man was a monster. That’s the bottom line,” said Schneider. “I don’t want anybody to take this as ‘Goodfellas’ and get it glamorized. The man was a horrific man who did horrid things.”

7NEWS anchor Anne McNamara spoke to Schneider ahead of the ‘Black Mass’ release. Schneider said no one can play Whitey accurately, but, from what he’s seen in the trailer, Johnny Depp comes close.

“I’m really, really, really looking forward to seeing what Johnny Depp can do with his role with Whitey.”

Schneider met with Whitey at least 50 times between 1986 and 1991. He remembers Bulger’s “Winter Hill gang” had a Robin Hood reputation on the streets of South Boston. 

“When you could kill someone at noon time at an intersection and all you had to do was say, ‘Shhh…’ just do that and everyone knew,” said Schneider. “There wouldn’t be a witness. Fifty people around and no witness to the murder.”

Schneider said he suffered abuse as a child and the mental anguish led him to organized crime. He wrote a book titled “The Choir Boy” to share his story with others who may be struggling. 

Schneider said ‘Black Mass’ is more than a Hollywood tale on the big screen. It’s a reality he’s been trying to escape for decades. 

“Not something I remotely look back on fondly in my life. I’m doing everything I can at this point, and have been for some time, to turn my life around,” he said.

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DENVER — Johnny Depp portrays Whitey Bulger in the movie “Black Mass.” Bulger was a crime boss of the Boston Irish Winter Hill Gang.

Denver resident Eric Schneider, using an alias, would know there is nothing glamorous about the life of a gangster. He was in Bulger’s gang for seven years. “A friend of mine who knew a member of Whitey’s gang, they needed a fourth person for an armed robbery cell that robbed banks and armored cars,” Schneider said. He joined the Bulger gang in 1986. READ MORE…

“Having duffel bags full of money, living in penthouses on the beach and driving fantastic cars. That’s what I was focusing on,” Schneider said.

Schneider’s life of crime came with a very dark side as well.

“I had a 28-foot Sea Ray and Whitey asked me on one occasion to take a body out to sea and sat and watched them dismember it while they sank it piece by piece,” Schneider said.

Eventually, Schneider was caught, charged with multiple counts of armed robbery, made a deal with federal agents and now is under the federal witness protection program. He also wrote a book titled “The Choir Boy.”

Schneider said his book is really three books in one.

“What I went through as a child with the abuse, being involved with the Irish mafia, and what happened with my years in Boston, and then my journey back,” he said.

Back to exactly where he’s not sure. But Schneider hopes it’s a better place than where he’s been.

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People Magazine

‘He Was the Essence of Pure Evil’: Onetime Whitey Bulger Associate Is Haunted by His Years Working for the Boston Mob Boss

The Choir Boy – that chronicles the years of sexual abuse he survived and his life as one of Whitey’s crooks.

Former gun and drug runner Eric Schneider remembers the day he met infamous New England mobster James ”Whitey” Bulger like it happened last week. He was 18, fresh out of high school and had a growing reputation with police patrolling Boston’s suburbs as a petty thug with higher criminal aspirations.  

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