Today, the FBI, in conjunction with the Montgomery County Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, is announcing the placement of Bradford Bishop on to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. William Bradford Bishop, commonly known as Bradford Bishop, is wanted by the Montgomery County Police Department for the murder of five of his family members in March 1976.
Around noon on Monday, March 8, 1976, a resident of a Bethesda neighborhood called police because she was concerned about the lack of activity at 8103 Lilly Stone Drive. The neighbor had not seen anyone at the home for approximately one week. When Montgomery County Police officers arrived and entered the residence, they found a gruesome, bloody crime scene in several rooms of the home. Officers also noted that the family car, a maroon 1974 Chevrolet station wagon, was missing from the driveway.
At the time of the discovery of the crime scene at the house in Bethesda, detectives had already been contacted by North Carolina authorities regarding five burned bodies that had been located on March 2 in a wooded area of North Carolina. There was a shovel located at that scene that was determined to have been purchased at a hardware store in Montgomery County. It was not until the call to the Lilly Stone address that investigators were able to link these two events. It was at this point that the burned bodies in North Carolina were now thought to be those of the victims from inside that house.
After the discovery of the crime scene in Bethesda, detectives were able to develop Bradford Bishop as the suspect in the murders. Bishop had murdered his mother, Lobelia Bishop, age 68; his wife, Annette Bishop, age 37; and his three sons, William, age 14, Brenton, age 10, and Geoffrey, age 5.
As part of the investigation, detectives developed a timeline of Bradford Bishop’s activities before and after the murders. Detectives determined that Bishop had purchased a small sledge hammer and a gasoline can from the Sears at Montgomery Mall on March 1. That same day, he had also purchased gasoline at the TEXACO station adjacent to the mall.
Detectives determined that Bishop had killed his family at the home between March 1st and 2nd. He then loaded the bodies of his mother, his wife, and his three sons into the family station wagon, along with the family dog—a golden retriever—and drove to North Carolina.
On March 2 at 12:40 p.m., a North Carolina forest-service worker noticed smoke in the woods of Tyrrell County outside of Columbia, North Carolina. At 1:00 p.m., five partially burned bodies were located in a shallow grave at the site of the fire. Found near the gravesite were a gas can, a shovel, and a pitchfork. Detectives determined that a vehicle similar to Bishop’s had been observed in the area of the fire at around 10:00 a.m. that morning.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. on March 2, Bishop is known to have purchased a pair of tennis shoes at a sports store located in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
On March 9, Montgomery County Police detectives drove to North Carolina. Using dental records, jewelry, and clothing descriptions, detectives positively identified the bodies found in the shallow grave to be Bishop’s family members.
On March 18, Bishop’s vehicle was located by a park ranger at the Elkmont campground in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Bloody clothing and an ax were located in the vehicle.
Based on the above, a Montgomery County grand jury indicted Bishop on March 18, 1976 for the murders of his family. Bishop and the family dog, however, have never been located.
Chief Manger stated in today’s press conference that, “This was a horrific case that involved five innocent members of one family, including three young children, who were all brutally murdered in a place in which they felt safe and by a person whom they trusted. It is unthinkable that a man who is a son, a husband, and a father could commit such a terrible crime.”
Chief Manger continued, “The circumstances of this crime have motivated us to use all of the resources at our disposal to locate Bishop. Even 38 years later, we still look to bring justice in this case. We owe this to the victims, to their extended family members, and to the community. We will never give up on our efforts to hold Bradford Bishop accountable for the murders of his family members.”
According to Chief Manger, the addition of Bishop to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list is “not our last chance, but it is our most recent opportunity to make progress towards apprehending Bishop. This is a case with both national and international pieces. While it is possible that Bishop may still be in the United States, we know that he had the means and the experience to relocate himself to a foreign country. No matter where he is, however, news spreads fast and all we need is just one person to call us with the right tip as to Bishop’s whereabouts.”
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of William Bradford Bishop is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI. A reward of up to $100,000 is being offered for information that leads to his arrest. Log onto www.fbi.gov to view more detailed information about the Bishop case, study the age-progressed photos, and view other related images that may help to identify Bishop.