Brad Bishop

Search for William Bradford Bishop Continues 40 Years Later

The FBI makes a new call for information on one of the most notorious cold cases in Washington history

A heinous crime committed 40 years ago still haunts a Montgomery County community, and the whereabouts of the alleged perpetrator remain unknown. 

Police believe William Bradford Bishop, Jr. used a sledgehammer to murder his wife, Annette, his mother, Lobelia, and his three boys, 14-year-old Brad, 10-year-old Brenton and 5-year-old Geoffrey, on March 1, 1976. 

Two years ago, the FBI added Bishop to its Ten Most Wanted List, hoping to get new information to help capture one of Maryland’s most notorious fugitives.

A few months after Bishop was added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, someone noticed that Bishop resembled a John Doe who died in Scottsboro, Alabama, in 1981. But the FBI later determined the body did not belong to Bishop.

No other sightings of Bishop have been reported.

On the night of March 1, 1976, police said Bishop withdrew $400 from a bank before leaving work, telling his boss he might be getting the flu.

But before going to his Bethesda home, Bishop drove to Sears at Montgomery Mall and bought a gas can and a short-handled sledgehammer. He then headed to Potomac Village, where he purchased a shovel and a pitchfork at Poch's Hardware.

Once he was home, Bishop used the sledgehammer to murder his family.

Bishop then to the tiny town of Columbia, North Carolina, where police say Bishop buried the bodies in a shallow grave and set them on fire. 

It took North Carolina investigators a week to connect the shovel from the scene to Poch's Hardware, just as a neighbor called police, worried he hadn't seen the Bishop boys in a week.

All the pieces fell together when police went inside and found blood in nearly every room of the house.

Investigators later had found Bishop’s car in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, abandoned in a parking space at the base of Jakes Creek Trail.

Police think Bishop left it there after driving eight hours from Jacksonville, N.C., where a store owner remembered a man with a dog buying a pair of Converse tennis shoes on March 2, 1976.

After that, the trail went cold.

“Nothing has changed since March 2, 1976 when Bishop was last seen except the passage of time,” Steve Vogt, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore Division, said in 2014.

The FBI is offering  a reward of up to $100,000 for any information that leads to Bishop's arrest. 

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