A State Department employee murders his mother, wife, and three sons.
On March 2, 1976, a state park ranger in Columbia, North Carolina, responded to a report of a brush fire in a remote wooded area. As the ranger brought the fire under control, he found an empty gas can and a shovel. When the smoke cleared, the ranger also discovered the remains of five partially charred bodies in a shallow grave, three young boys, and two women.
The victims’ clothes had labels from expensive department stores in Bethesda, Maryland. The shovel came from a hardware store in the same area. However, the Bethesda police had no missing person’s reports that they could link to the bodies, until six days later. The call came from a neighbor of William Bradford Bishop, a respected economist with the State Department. Lt. Joe Sargent of the Montgomery County Police Department was first to arrive at the Bishop home:
Authorities were finally able to identify the five bodies: Brad Bishop’s wife, Annette, his three sons, and his mother. There was no sign of Brad Bishop. Was he also a victim? Or was there a far more sinister explanation for his disappearance?
Bishop worked for the State Department as a director of commercial practices and trade. To most of his co-workers, he seemed to be on the fast track to a high level job. But a co-worker, Roy A. Harrell, saw a different side of Brad Bishop:
Roy ran into Bishop just outside the State Department on the day the annual promotion list came out. Bishop said he had been once again passed over for a promotion. According to Roy:
The next day Brad Bishop’s family was found dead and he had disappeared.
On March 18, 1976, almost three weeks after the murders, a ranger in Tennessee discovered an abandoned station wagon. In the back he found what looked like dried blood. The car was registered to William Bradford Bishop. Bishop was now the prime suspect in the slaying of his own family. Wiley D. Thompson was an assistant special agent with Baltimore FBI:
The authorities pieced together Bishop’s activities leading up to the murders. According to Lt. Sargent, on the day he left the State Department, Bishop withdrew several hundred dollars from his bank account and went to a local hardware store and gas station:
Assistant Special Agent Thompson:
According to the FBI, Bishop loaded the five bodies into the family station wagon and headed 200 miles south to the countryside near Columbia, North Carolina.
According to Bishop’s co-worker, Roy Harrell, Bishop suffered from feelings of inadequacy:
After buying a pair of tennis shoes near the site of the fire, Bishop drove 400 miles to the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee where his station wagon was found abandoned.
Brad Bishop successfully covered his tracks and was not seen for two years.
Then, in 1978, 5,000 miles away in Sorrento, Italy, a bizarre coincidence. Roy Harrell says he came face to face with Bishop in a bus station restroom:
Bishop is wanted by the FBI, Interpol, and the US Marshals. He has evaded capture for over 30 years. Authorities believe he is living in Europe.
On October 8th, 2014, the FBI announced a new theory as to William Bishop’s whereabouts: he may have been killed by a hit and run driver in Alabama in 1981, and become a John Doe. The DNA results came back, and they are not a match. William Bishop’s whereabouts are still unknown.