Real Name: William Bradford Bishop, Jr.
Aliases: Brad Bishop
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: March 2, 1976
Details: Brad Bishop of Bethesda, Maryland was a foreign service officer assigned to the State Department. Previously, he served in the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence operative. Bishop was a polyglot, fluent in five languages.
In 1976, the State Department was stingy with promotions, and Bishop did not get the promotion he felt he had worked for. Despite reassurances from colleagues that most of them also failed to get promoted, Bishop took it with less than typical fortitude. Colleagues said that Bishop had also complained of constant fights with his wife and his mother. Both women had nagged him for being "washed up" or "treading water"--going nowhere in his job. As Bishop was also known for wanting to put his enemies "in their place", it is likely the failed promotion, combined with family tension, set tragic events in motion.
On March 2nd, 1976, Brad Bishop told his secretary he was ill and was going to see a doctor. That was also Bishop's last day of work with the State Department. Instead of reporting to a health clinic, Brad Bishop went home, making two stops along the way. One stop was at a gas station where he filled a jerry can, and the other was to the White Flint Mall where he purchased a ball peen hammer from a hardware store inside the mall. After arriving home, Bishop bludgeoned his wife Annette, mother Lobelia, and children William III, Brenton, and Geoffrey, to death. He took the bodies to Columbia, North Carolina, where he dug a shallow fire pit in a dense area of woods, piled them in it, and doused them with gasoline before setting them on fire.
A North Carolina state forest ranger noticed the smoke and reported the horrific scene. Dental records confirmed the identity of the remains. Bishop dumped the car at a campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park before vanishing. Police inspected the vehicle and found the bloodied ball peen hammer, as well as a receipt from the White Flint Mall for the hammer's purchase.
Bishop fled the United States. Because he still possessed a State Department passport, Bishop was able to travel much easier than civilians, as custom officers are generally more lax to those with official US government passports. He has not been seen since, but sightings have been reported all over Europe, notably Belgium, England, Finland, The Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland as he travels on his U.S. Diplomatic Passport.
A sighting by Roy Harrell, a State Department coworker, placed him in Europe. In a UM interview, Harrell recalled traveling in Italy in 1978 and had a highly unlikely chance meeting. While in the city of Sorrento, Harrell was in a men's washroom when he saw a bearded, haggard man wearing a soft cotton sport coat. At closer glance, Harrell realized it was Bishop and confronted the man, attempting to be assertive and get Bishop to travel with him from Sorrento to Rome to surrender to the Italian police. Bishop panicked at his improbable reunion, then ran when Harrell suggested surrendering to authorities.
Brad Bishop was tried in absentia of the crimes and found guilty on five-counts of first degree murder and other charges. Bishop's most recent stateside sighting was of him traveling with the family dog and a dark-skinned woman. Bishop was last seen September 19, 1994 in Basel, Switzerland.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 9, 1991 episode. It was also featured on America's Most Wanted.