Whether William Bradford Bishop Jr. knows it or not, he has a daughter who lives in North Carolina — a long way from Bethesda, Maryland, where he bludgeoned his wife, his mom and three sons on March 1, 1976.
Bishop has been on the run ever since and would be 84 on Aug. 1, unless he’s dead.
His daughter, Kathy Gillchrist, learned of her connection to Bishop after contacting a genealogist in Maine regarding her DNA.
As you might imagine, the Bishop case made front page news when it happened, when the bodies were discovered and when investigators, including the FBI, released info to the media.
There have been sightings of him around the globe: Bishop had been a State Department employee who worked in the Foreign Service.
In fact, the FBI put Bishop on its 10 Most Wanted List in 2014, and the bureau still is on the lookout, as are sheriffs in Montgomery County, Maryland.
After twists and turns, Ms. Gillchrist, born in New England and adopted by a loving family, uncovered lots about her presumed genetic father, who reportedly had fathered only three sons.
Bishop was a U.S. diplomat, had traveled a lot and could speak multiple languages.
He also liked the outdoors, and showed signs of restlessness with insomnia and other disorders.
The murders were well planned.
He told coworkers that he didn’t feel well, left work and went shopping for a sledgehammer, gas can and other tools for the killings.
He slayed his wife first, then his boys and his mom last, put all their remains in the family Chevrolet station wagon, and hauled them all off to North Carolina.
Bishop then drove to the Great Smoky Mountains and set their remains ablaze in shallow graves.
Where he next fled to isn’t certain. What is clear is that Bishop was — is — a troubled soul.
He wanted the family to move on from Bethesda, then a community of excellent schooling and houses of worship, tree-lined streets and cul-de-sacs, and neighbors and neighborhoods.
To say the Bishop murders shocked the community was an understatement.
Ms. Gillchrist got many of the answers she’d been searching for a long, long time.
She’s even written a book, “It’s In My Genes,” about much of it.
I don’t know if such a book is easily digestible. Let me know if you find out.
⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at email@example.com.
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