Did Robert Fisher set off an explosion in his own house to kill his entire family?
A powerful explosion rocked a quiet residential neighborhood one morning in Scottsdale, Arizona. The force of the blast ripped through the roof of the house, causing it to burst into flames. Most of the home was destroyed before firefighters could contain the blaze.
The house was owned by Robert and Mary Fisher, who lived there with their two children; 13-year-old Brittney and 10-year-old Bobby Jr. When rescuers were finally able to get inside the house, they found the remains of Mary and the two children still in their beds. They appeared to have died in their sleep. But Robert was nowhere to be found.
Autopsies of the victims produced a stunning revelation: all three had been stabbed to death. Could Robert, the seemingly dedicated family man, have killed them? Detective John Kirkham of the Scottsdale Police Department was one of the investigating officers:
Most people took Robert Fisher at face value, like his sister Jean:
Robert and Mary met in high school and they’d been married for 16 years. Robert had served as a firefighter, until a back injury ended his career. Investigators learned that there had been tension between Robert and Mary following the injury. One day, Robert came to Mary with upsetting news; he was having an affair. Mary was shattered and asked Robert to leave.
Robert headed north to the forests where he usually went to hunt. When he returned a few days later, he and Mary decided to go to counseling at their church. Robert had apparently suffered deep emotional scars after the divorce of his own parents, and he was determined that his children would not experience that same emotional pain. Myrna Bitzer is Mary’s sister:
But Mary may not have shared those feelings, as Det. Kirkham discovered:
Neighbors told investigators that on the night of the murders, the Fishers had a loud argument. Det. Kirkham believes that if Robert did, in fact, murder his family, it may not have been pre-meditated:
Could Robert Fisher have murdered his wife and children rather than put them through the heartache of divorce? The crime scene investigation uncovered intriguing clues. A disconnected natural gas line, an out of place candlestick holder, and the residue of some form of highly flammable liquid were all discovered.
Detectives began to piece together a chilling scenario of what happened on the night of the murders. The stabbing wounds clearly could not have occurred during the fire. Investigators theorize that several hours before the explosion, Robert Fisher slashed the throats of each of his children, and then his wife. In addition to having her throat cut, evidence showed that Mary was shot. Also, the fire was too intense to be caused by a gas explosion, leading to the speculation that some other type of flammable material was used. Investigators believe that after spreading gasoline around the house, Fisher disconnected the line leading to the gas furnace. Det. Kirkham:
A full-scale manhunt for Fisher initially turned up few leads. Then, ten days later, Mary’s SUV, which disappeared on the night of the murders, was spotted by a hiker. According to Det. Kirkham, it had been abandoned near Fisher’s favorite hunting area:
Investigators hurried to the remote area. But the landscape was riddled with hundreds of caves and days of searching produced nothing. But two theories did emerge. One, that a despondent Robert Fisher took refuge in one of the caves, where he eventually committed suicide. The other theory suggested that a cunning Fisher left the SUV behind to divert the attention of investigators and then vanished.
Robert’s sister, Jean, is left to wonder what became of her brother:
However, Det. Kirkham believes Fisher is still alive:
Mary’s sister, Myrna, also believes that Robert is alive:
Robert Fisher has been indicted for the murders of his wife and children.