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FBI exhumes body of man in 1976 Bradford Bishop cold case | News

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FBI exhumes body of man in 1976 Bradford Bishop cold case

BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA9) -- The FBI has exhumed the body of a person they believe may be one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, Bradford Bishop.

Bishop is wanted for allegedly bludgeoning his mother, his wife and their three sons to death in Montgomery County back in 1976.

The unidentified body is that of man who was killed walking down a highway in Alabama in 1981, court records stated. The John Doe bears a "strong physical resemblance" to Bishop, court records said.

WARNING: Photos in court records could be considered graphic http://on.wusa9.com/1qk3QxF

Alabama man Jeremy Collins compared the John Doe cold case pictures in a local paper to images of Bradford Bishop that he saw on CNN's "The Hunt". Police in Alabama then shared side by side photos of their John Doe and Bradford Bishop with the Montgomery Co. Sheriff.

FBI analysis is expected to take at least two weeks.

On March 1, 1976, Bishop, a U.S. State Department official, left work early saying he didn't feel well. Bishop then went to Montgomery Mall and bought a gas can and small metal mallet at Sears, police said. Bishop drove to the other side of the mall, filled up the family's maroon 1974 Chevrolet station wagon with gas at the Texaco as well as the gas can he had just purchased. He then went to the bank and withdrew almost all the money: $400, according to police.

William Bishop added to FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives

Bishop then made the 15 minute drive to the neighborhood of Carderock Springs in Bethesda, walked into his house and killed his entire family using the mallet.

"He went from room to room," said Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin. "And one at a time hit them around the head and and killed each one of them."


Popkin said Bishop killed his wife first. Then, he killed his three young sons as they slept in their beds. Bishop's mother entered the house after walking the family dog and she was killed. Bishop put their bodies in the back of the station wagon and headed south for a six-hour drive to North Carolina, according to police. Bishop also took the family's golden retriever on the trip.

"A park ranger saw fire burning and immediately went to see what was going on. What he found was just absolutely grizzly. The discovery of five bodies in a shallow grave that was burning," said Popkin. That was on March 2. A gas can, a shovel, and a pitchfork were found near the gravesite. Detectives determined that a vehicle similar to Bishop's had been observed in the area of the fire at around 10 a.m. that morning.

That night, Bishop also bought a pair of tennis shoes at a sports store in Jacksonville, North Carolina, according to police.

A Bethesda neighbor called police at approximately noon on March 8, 1976, because she was concerned that she had not seen anyone at the home at 8103 Lilly Stone Drive for approximately one week. Montgomery County police officers went to check on the home and that's when they discovered the bloody crime scene in several rooms of the home. They also discovered that the station wagon was gone.

Detectives had already been contacted by North Carolina authorities regarding five burned bodies and the shovel that was found was determined to have been purchased at a hardware store in Montgomery County. Until the neighbor's call, however, investigators had not been able to link the two incidents.


On March 9, Montgomery County detectives drove to North Carolina and used dental records, jewelry, and clothing descriptions to identify the bodies: 68-year-old Lobelia Bishop, 37-year-old Annette, 14-year-old William, 10-year-old Brent and five-year-old Geoffrey.

A park ranger found Bishop's vehicle abandoned at the Elkmont campground in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Bloody clothing and an ax were found inside the station wagon.

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 found.