Recently we wrote about the most notorious killers on Death Row. They're without a doubt some of the most terrifying individuals still alive today but at least you can sleep at night, safe in the knowledge that they're locked away and therefore unable to sneak into your bedroom.
That's a given for the criminals who have been caught, but what about the ones still roaming the streets?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) keeps a list of its most wanted fugitives and at the top of that list are 10 criminals so dangerous that the U.S. intelligence agency offers rewards of up to $1 million (£805K) for information leading to their arrests. These killers-at-large range from South American drug kingpins to cold-blooded murderers who could be living right next door.
William Bradford Bishop Jr, a former United States Foreign Service Officer, most definitely falls into the latter category.
In addition to bearing a striking resemblance to Quentin Tarantino, Bradford Bishop Jr was/is also a cold-blooded killer who was placed onto the FBI's 10 most wanted list in 2014. The crime? The brutal murders of his entire family at their home in 1976, allegedly using only a sledgehammer. In other words, family annihilation. Dr. Elizabeth Yardley is a professor of Criminology at Birmingham University and an expert of family annihilation who has identified four personality types for these particular criminals: 'self-righteous', 'disappointed', 'anomic' and 'paranoid'.
"William Bradford Bishop Jr appears to share some characteristics with the 'anomic' type that we identified in the research," Dr. Yardley told TheLADbible. "For anomic family annihilators, the family appears to have become inextricably linked to the economy."
In other words, money (or lack of it) is what drives people in this category to commit their crimes, and it is possible that a denied promotion at work could have been the final straw for Bradford Bishop Jr and his family.
On the afternoon of March 1st 1976, Bradford Bishop Jr announced to his secretary at work that he wasn't feeling well and would be leaving the office. He had just been denied a promotion. Shortly after leaving work, police believe that Bishop drove to a bank, where he withdrew several hundred pounds, before visiting two separate hardware stores where he bought a sledge hammer, a gas canister, a pitchfork and a shovel. After filling up his new gas canister and the family car, he made his way back to the family home for around 7-8pm.
A police crime scene investigation alleged that, as soon as the kids were in bed, his wife was likely the first victim. After he had allegedly killed the mother of his children, he turned his attention to his own mother, who had just returned from walking the dog. Finally, the suspicion is that he headed up to the room where his three children were sound asleep and bludgeoned them to death. Officers who attended the scene a week later told of blood-soaked walls and ceilings, describing it as the worst crime scene they had ever seen.
Bishop is then suspected to have loaded the bodies into the car before he drove almost 300 miles from the family's home in Bethesda, Maryland to a remote, wooded swamp in North Carolina, where he dug a shallow grave and set the bodies ablaze. Unfortunately for him, the smoke from the burning corpses caught the attention of a ranger who followed it, found the bodies and notified the authorities.
It was later revealed that Bradford Bishop Jr had been spotted in North Carolina that same day in a shop and possibly accompanied by a "dark-skinned woman".
After a week, Bradford Bishop Jr had still not been connected to the incident, giving him seven days of advance time on the police. Given his work experience, this window could have allowed him to create a new identity with all the relevant paperwork and escape the country without leaving any kind of trail of his own. It's even possible that he had made these preparations while he was still at work.
It was at this point, a week after the murders, that a neighbour became concerned about the family's whereabouts and called the police. Upon accompanying the neighbour to the house, police officers found specks of blood on the front step and opened the door to reveal a bloodbath. One officer claimed that the most disturbing thing was the hammer marks in the ceiling above one of the child's bunk beds, showing the ferocity with which Bradford Bishop Jr had acted.
Sightings and possible location:
There have been three sightings of William Bradford Bishop Jr since his crimes which are widely believed to be reliable.
1978 Stockholm, Sweden - A Swedish woman who had previously met Bradford Bishop Jr in Ethiopia due to work, reported spotting someone whom she was "absolutely certain" matched his identity in a public park.
1978 Sorrento, Italy - A former colleague reported bumping into a bearded man in a toilet in Sorrento. Upon recognising him he asked, "hey, you're Brad Bishop, aren't you?". The bearded man reportedly panicked, responded "oh, no" and ran away.
1994 Basel, Switzerland - One of Bishop's former neighbours claimed to have spotted him at a train station whilst on vacation.
Given the abundance of sightings in Europe and the lack of them in the US, the FBI suggest that Bishop is most likely in France, the UK, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland or another nearby country.
That means that the friendly old guy who lives across from you could be a cold-blooded killer and you'd be none the wiser. If that's not enough to keep you awake at night, then we're not sure what is.
Words: Paddy Maddison