Bradford Bishop was a State Department foreign service officer and former Yale University football player.
He married a former cheerleader with a degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
He spoke English, French, Italian, Spanish and Serbo-Croatian.
Despite all of this accomplishment and good news in his life, the Washington Post, in a Page 1 story by Dan Moses, reported:
“Bishop was apparently passed over for promotion, and he told a colleague that the setback had depressed him.”
That was a wallowing understatement.
On March 1, 1976, Bishop told his secretary that he wasn’t feeling well and left work early. On the drive home from Foggy Bottom to Bethesda, he stopped to purchase a three-pound sledgehammer and a can that that he filled with gasoline from a filling station.
Now, 38 years later, he has been made a member of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. He is charged with using that sledgehammer to beat to death his mother, his wife and his sons, Brad, 14, Brenton, 10, and Jeffrey, 5.
Police say that while it was still dark that night, Bishop loaded their bodies into a station wagon, which he drove 275 miles.
In a swampy and wooded part of North Carolina, he dug a shallow grave and set the corpses on fire. Then, he disappeared.
Federal and local officials have announced that Bishop, who would be age 77, has been placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
That justifiable act was followed by the following message to Bishop from the Montgomery County, Md., Sheriff Darren Popkin, who declared in front of a number of TV cameras and radio microphones:
“You’ve been living with this on your conscience now for 38 years. I am the voice for your family who can no longer speak. The time is now for you to contact law enforcement.”
How many other law enforcers agree with Popkin that this will influence this long disappeared mass-murderer of his family?
After Bishop’s disappearance, there were unconfirmed sightings of him in a public park in Stockholm, a restaurant in Sorento, Italy, and a train station in Basel, Switzerland.
FBI Special Agent Stephen Vogt, head of the bureau’s Baltimore field office, said:
“We’re asking the general public to pay attention to the faces they see every day. The men they pass on the street, the co-workers, the guy working out next to them in a senior center, or a man walking his dog in a park, and even – as crazy as it sounds – a family member. Bishop easily could have started a new family.”
At 5:30 p.m. March 2, 1976, about 130 miles from the grave, Bishop bought tennis shoes at a sporting goods store in Jacksonville, N.C., police said. That was the last sight of him that law-enforcement officials have been able to confirm.
Montgomery Police Chief Tom Manger said, “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. News spreads fast and all we need is just one person to call us with the right tip.”
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