Brad Bishop

The Hunt for William Bradford Bishop: Authorities Exhume Body in Alabama

Body bears a "strong physical resemblence" to suspect in family's murder

Investigators who continue to probe the 38-year-old murders of a Maryland family exhumed a body in Alabama on Thursday morning, after authorities noted the dead person's resemblance to suspect William Bradford Bishop.

Bishop is accused of using 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, in their Potomac, Maryland home in 1976.

The family's bodies were found burning in a shallow grave off a logging road near Columbia, North Carolina. Two weeks later, investigators found Bishop's car in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Bishop disappeared after the murders.

The slayings horrified the D.C. area, and police have continued to investigate. In April, the News4 I-Team broke the news that authorities had Bishop added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List.

William Bradford Bishop, who police say murdered his family in Potomac, Md. 38 years ago, has been added to the Ten Most Wanted List.

Since then, hundreds of tips have poured in -- including the one that led to the request to exhume the body of an unknown man in Alabama. The man, called only "John Doe," died in 1981 after a car hit him as he was walking down Highway 72 in Scottsboro, Alabama.

According to an Alabama Circuit Court filing, the FBI says "there is a very strong physical resemblance" between the John Doe buried in Scottsboro and William Bradford Bishop.

According to the paperwork filed Wednesday, the FBI says it is possible Bishop hid in the mountains for several years and could have hitchhiked 200 miles to Alabama.

"John Doe" had no identification except for a piece of paper containing the phone number of a truck driver who had picked him up while he was hitchhiking through Kentucky a few days earlier, the court records show.

The FBI said in the court filing, "In order to identify John Doe as William Bradford Bishop, the body of John Doe needs to be exhumed so dental records, fingerprints and DNA evidence can be collected and processed."

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The collected DNA will be compared to Bishop's DNA, which was recovered from a cigarettte in 1976.

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington for more on this developing story.

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