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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Mystery: William Bradford Bishop

Last December, I covered the story of a man named Robert William Fisher. If you’ve either forgotten who he is (or was), or simply haven’t read that write-up, he was a man who murdered his wife and children and blew up his house. It’s a very dark and morbid tale of a seemingly normal, well-to-do man who hid his true self with terrifying grace.

That wasn’t the only story I had in store that was like that though. I had another one in mind, but after I was done writing about Fisher, I realized that the two were extremely similar—to the point that they were nearly interchangeable content wise. As such, I opted to scrap the second one and instead cover it this December. Though the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this month has had a lot of very silly, offbeat stories that really showcase a bit too much of the goofy side of unsolved mysteries. So I decided to yank it from this year’s Decemystery and instead cover it today.

As such, after yesterday’s short tale of a terrifying spectre that resides in your mirror, I thought that I should balance the length paradigm by having today’s story be a lengthier, much more thorough write-up. So without further ado, let’s dive into the world of a fugitive who disappeared into thin air with the story of William Bradford Bishop.

The Story

Let’s begin our story by taking a trip to Wikipedia to cover the background of Bradford (as I’ll call him). Born on August 1, 1936, Bradford’s life began in Pasadena, California. His life was, by all accounts, a good one; there’s no sign of anything traumatic like with Robert Fisher. No divorce tore him apart and no dysfunctional family left an everlasting scar on his perception of a poor family unit. This continued into his young adult life as he went on to get a bachelor of science degree in history from Yale along with a master of arts degree in international studies from Middlebury College. However, there are reports that this isn’t the case and that he actually got a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Yale and a master’s degree in Italian from Middlebury. On a final note: he also holds a master’s degree in African Studies from UCLA.

I decided to snoop around and see if I could find anything that cemented which of these was true and I can’t find anything concrete (though as is the case with anything I do research on, I may very well be overlooking something). What does appear to be set in stone is his interest in African Studies; nothing appears to argue against that. Keep this in mind for later.

Moving on though, Bradford’s life after college is a very typical one for men during that time period (though it isn’t abnormal nowadays either). He served in Army counterintelligence for four years after graduating from Yale (which was 1959). At some point in time, he also learned to speak four languages outside of English: French, Serbo-Croat, Italian, and Spanish. I find it interesting that, in spite of taking up African Studies, he never learned to speak any language native to Africa. This is yet another peculiar oddity (in my eyes) in regards to his interest with the continent. While I understand that not everyone will learn to speak the native language to a culture or country that they have an interest in, I can’t help but find it to be extremely weird. Especially since he learned to speak Italian and supposedly got a degree in Italian.

I digress though. Along with having served in the army, Bradford also married his high school sweetheart: a woman by the name of Annette Weis. It’s with Annette that he would have three sons: William, Brenton, and Geoffrey. After he was honorably discharged from the army, he took up a job at the U.S. State Department, serving in the Foreign Service. This meant that he was away from home quite often and instead at many different postings at an array of locations overseas. If we go by Wikipedia, he was posted in Italian cities like Verona, Milan, and Florence (it’s here that he did post-graduate work at the University of Florence) between the years of 1968 and 1972. He also served in Africa, having been posted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Gaborone, Botswana between the years of 1972 and 1974. I should point out that Ethiopia does speak English (along with French, Italian, and Arabic), but their native language is Amharic. So I stand by what I said earlier about it seeming rather odd that Bradford never opted to learn this if he expressed an interest in African Studies. As for Botswana, their official spoken language is Tswana/Setswana, while English is their official written language. However, there are over 31 other languages spoken there. If we go by Wikipedia, they are as follows:

#1: Afrikaans

#2: Ani

#3: Birwa

#4: Chichewa

#5: English

#6: Gana

#7: Gciriku

#8: Gwi

#9: Hai||om

#10: Herero

#11: ‡Hua

#12: Ju|’hoansi

#13: Kalanga

#14: Kgalagadi

#15: Khoekhoe

#16: Khwedam

#17: Kua

#18: Kuhane

#19: Kung-Ekoka

#20: Lozi

#21: Mbukushu

#22: Nambya

#23: Naro

#24: Ndebele

#25: Setswana

#26: Shua

#27: Tshuwau

#28: Tswapong

#29: !Xóõ

#30: Yeyi

#31: Zezuru

Once again, keep this in mind.

Moving on, Bradford’s last posting was as an assistant chief in the Division of Special Activities and Commercial Treaties at the State Department’s headquarters in Washington D.C. in 1974. At this point, he was living in Bethesda, Maryland with his mom, wife, and three sons. Presumably, this household just worked.

However, that wouldn’t be the case come March 1, 1976. It was on this day that Bradford learned that he would not receive a promotion that he’d been hoping for. Following this, he told his secretary that he felt ill, so he left work early. After this, he drove to Montgomery Mall (now known as Westfield Montgomery according to Murderpedia). It’s here that he purchased a ball-peen hammer and a gas can, which he subsequently filled at a gas station (along with his vehicle, which he topped off). There’s a variation to this sequence of events on Wikipedia, which states that he purchased a sledgehammer instead of a ball-peen hammer. I cannot find any source that verifies which was used, but for the sake of consistency, we’ll be going with the idea that it was a ball-peen hammer.

After this, Bradford drove to a hardware store and purchased a shovel and pitchfork. After he purchased these two items, he drove back to his home, arriving at sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 at night. From here, it’s unknown exactly what happened in the way of sequential events. However, it’s suspected that Annette (who was 37-years-old at the time of her death) was the first to be murdered as she had a book lying beside her that she was reading. From there, William (who was 14-years-old), Brenton (who was 10-years-old), and Godfrey (who was only 5-years-old) were killed. The last to be killed was Lobelia (who was 68-years-old). She was killed when she returned home from walking the family’s golden retriever, Leo.

Like some of the other details in this story, the information is inconsistent. What I just cited I got from the Unsolved Mysteries Wiki. Not exactly prestigious, but it’s better than nothing. Though according to Wikipedia, Lobelia was the second person to die, with the sons being last. I have no idea which is the “official” version, but the end result is all the same. A bloody, grisly scene that would go unnoticed for a week.

You see, once all was said and done, Bradford didn’t simply flee. Rather, he put the corpses of his family into his station wagon, taking Leo the Dog with him, and went on an all-night drive from Bethesda, Maryland to Columbia, North Carolina. Nowadays, going by Google Maps, that drive would take 4 hours and 44 minutes. Presumably, this would’ve taken a bit longer given the 44 year difference between 1976 and 2020.

Man, that’s a lot of 4s.

Anyways, one Bradford arrived in Columbia, he dug a shallow grave in a densely wooded area. He then placed each of the bodies into the grave, doused them all with two-and-a-half gallons of gasoline, and then set them on fire. He also left the shovel and pitchfork near the site. What the pitchfork was used for, I’ve never been able to find out about.

After this, that same day (March 2), Bradford was reported as having bought a pair of tennis shoes from a sporting goods store located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. It was stated that Leo was with him on a leash and that he was with a “dark-skinned woman”. Who this woman was, no one knows. I read somewhere at some point in the past that she was supposedly seen with Bradford when he was burying his family, but this is probably my faulty memory. In spite of that, I thought it would be worth mentioning for the sake of completion. Anyways, let’s move on; we’ll get into this woman more later as there are a few possibilities as to who she is (or was).

At an unknown point on the same day, a forest ranger noticed the smoke from the fire that Bradford had started. Upon investigating, he discovered the corpses and immediately alerted police. They were able to find out where the shovel had come from due to the label still being on it. However, due to the Bethesda police not having any missing persons reports that matched the description of the charred remains, the Bishop family remained unidentified.

From here, the trail for Bradford cold. It wouldn’t be until March 10 that a neighbor would contact police regarding the Bishop family, stating that he’d not seen them for a long period of time and that their mail had been piling up. Authorities went to do a welfare check, but that welfare check became something else entirely when they noticed that the front porch was covered in blood. Upon entering, they found that the front hall and bedrooms were covered in blood. Authorities immediately came to the conclusion that the bodies found in North Carolina, plus the scene that lay before them at the Bishop household, were connected. Dental records proved this suspicion and their sights were set on Bradford, whose body wasn’t a part of the shallow grave. Well, naturally, but you already knew that.

Eight days later, on March 18, Bradford’s station wagon was discovered, having been abandoned in a campground in Elkmont, Tennessee; specifically Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s here that any and all traces of William Bradford Bishop ends. Within the car though, police discovered the ball-peen hammer he’d used to murder his family with. According to Wikipedia, there were also dog biscuits, a blanket covered in blood, a shotgun, an axe, and a shaving kit that also had Bradford’s medication. The vehicle’s spare tire was also filled with blood. It was also claimed that someone said the car had been there since March 5 or March 7.

The day after Bradford’s car was found, a grand jury indicted him on five counts of first degree murder, along with other charges. This, unfortunately, means that this is where the story ends, though we aren’t jumping to the theories section. There is still a fair bit to discuss that occurred after Bradford vanished.

For starters, per the Unsolved Mysteries Wiki, it’s stated that Bradford’s coworkers had told investigators that he’d repeatedly complained about the fights he kept having with his wife and mother. Both of them apparently said that he was “washed up” and “treading water” as he’d been going nowhere with his job. Bradford also talked about having the desire to put his enemies “in their place”. Because of this, authorities believe that not getting the promotion he’d desired, coupled with the trouble he’d been having with his wife and mother, served as the catalyst for the quintuple homicide.

However, that belief has never exactly been confirmed or even cemented. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. In the 44 years since the murders, no motive has ever been agreed upon. The two most popular are the one above—regarding Bradford “snapping” because of not getting the promotion he wanted—and one related to financial trouble. Reportedly, the family was being audited by the IRS. This likely led to some serious strain on the whole family and given Bishop didn’t get his promotion, he felt defeated and killed his family.

At the same time, legendary FBI profiler John E. Douglas described these financial issues as “nothing terribly unusual for people in their thirties living in that kind of neighborhood”. As such, it’s probably safe to assume that the more likely of the two theories is the former one; the one described above.

Given that Bradford had a head start of a week, it’s extremely likely that he’d fled the country by the time law enforcement was even so much as aware of the murder. This is backed up by the FBI Special Agent in Charge—Steve Vogt—later confirmed this. In 2014, he stated that Bradford’s wallet and passport have never been found. As such, it’s extremely likely that he immediately fled to Europe, which is where we’re headed to next.

Indeed, Europe is a location where he has been repeatedly seen throughout the years. These locations—which are listed on Wikipedia—include: England, Finland, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Greece, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Of the various sightings though, the three most credible—which are once again listed on Wikipedia—in the eyes of the US Marshals Service are as follows.

The first one was in July of 1978. A Swedish woman claims that she collaborated with Bradford while she was on a business trip in Ethiopia. The details of this business trip are something I cannot find anything on, but the woman also stated she saw him twice in a week at a park in Stockholm. The reason she didn’t notify the police was because she wasn’t aware that he was wanted for murder in the U.S., but she did say that she was “absolutely certain” the man she socialized with in Ethiopia and saw at the park was Bradford Bishop.

The second sighting was from a man named Roy Harrell. He worked for the State Department and was in Sorrento, Italy. He was in a men’s washroom and saw a bearded, haggard man. Although she didn’t recognize him at first, he soon realized who the man was and said: “Hey, you’re Brad Bishop, aren’t you?”

The man responded by simply saying: “Oh no.” He then bolted out of the washroom and into an alleyway. Though this isn’t the only version of events; the Unsolved Mysteries Wiki states that Harrell attempted to coerce Bradford into surrendering to the Italian police. However, Bradford rushed out of the washroom upon hearing that suggestion. It’s very possible that the Wikipedia version has simply been shortened to accommodate for a much briefer read though.

Moving on though, the next credible sighting took place on September 19, 1994 in Basel, Switzerland. A neighbor of the Bishop family had been on vacation and was on a train platform. At some point, he noticed, a few feet from him, that a “well-groomed” man was getting into a car. He later stated that the man was Bradford Bishop.

I’m sure that there are other “credible” sightings that have taken place, but as is the case with any high profile criminal investigation, the number of reports and tips is so skewed in the direction of false leads, you could build a bridge across the Atlantic Ocean with them. This only continues with the other tidbits on Wikipedia regarding Bradford; in 2010, authorities announced that they believed he was living in Switzerland, Italy, or elsewhere in Europe—something so vague, they may as well have said that he was simply living in Europe. However, they also said that he may be residing in California. This is the one and only time I’ve ever heard anyone anywhere state they think he was still in the United States.

Authorities also suspected that he may have become a teacher or gotten involved in other criminal activities. While it’s extremely common for wanted killers to begin a new life, I find it a little odd that Bradford would personally pursue a job like that of a teacher, but whatever.

Perhaps the one and only tidbit that really stands out to me is how, in 2010, it was revealed that prior to the murders, Bradford had been in contact with a federal prison inmate named Albert Kenneth Bankston. Why the two were in contact and how exactly is unknown, but Bradford had told Bankston to send letters to his State Department office address. This correspondence was only discovered in 1993 by law enforcement, but discovering why the two were talking to each other was impossible as Bankston died in 1983.

In 2014, the body of an unidentified man that had been found on an Alabama highway after he was struck and killed by a motorist was exhumed by the FBI to perform a DNA test as some suspected that the man was Bradford Bishop. Take a look below.

Despite their similarities, the DNA test came back negative and as such, the pursuit for Bradford continued on.

And continue on it does. Almost four-and-a-half decades later, Bradford Bishop remains at large. Technically speaking, this is where the story of Bradford ends. He’s still at large, so we could move onto the theories section. However, there’s more to this story than meets the eye. You see, given how Bradford worked for the U.S. State Department, there are actually some who suspect there is much more to this case than meets the eye. As such, I want to go over them for the sake of completion.


My source for this comes from another Blogspot user who operates the blog “James L. Bruno”, which is also the name of the person who runs it too. At the top, it states that James is an author and an “ex-diplomat”.

In this article, James states that he’d put out an open letter to Bradford and goes on to dispel some “myths” surrounding the case as a whole. I’ll abridge them, but if you want to read them in full, click the link above. It will take you directly to the page that I’m going over.

Conspiracy 1: The CIA

Whenever you have anything that involves the government, let alone some sort of truther movement, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is guaranteed to pop up somewhere like a zit that won’t go away.

In this particular case, the theory is that Bradford was actually a CIA agent that had been working undercover for the State Department. This theory stems from how Bradford served as an intelligence officer in the Army prior to joining the State Department; some suspect that he never stopped working as an intelligence officer. Presumably, he killed his family because they learned too much and afterwards, he went into hiding or took up a new identity. This is extremely reminiscent of stories like the Icebox Murders; a family learned too much and had to be killed to prevent the truth from coming out.

Is there any truth to it? Well, given the reputation the CIA has, some will believe it. After all, the CIA is nothing if not the kings of deception and secrecy. Though officially, there is nothing to point to this being the case. Also, in my eyes, I find it weird that the CIA would make the crime scene so gruesome and that Bradford would travel to North Carolina to dispose of the bodies, rather than his CIA friends doing it for him. However, it’s possible that the “dark-skinned woman” was one of those friends, but this has never been confirmed—though that’s ridiculously obvious, but I figured it was still worth bringing up.

Conspiracy 2: The FBI

For our second conspiracy, we have an idea that the government and/or the FBI are protecting Bradford for some unknown purpose. Perhaps it’s to protect their image given the horrific nature of Bradford’s crimes. Perhaps there’s something that his family knew that wasn’t allowed to get out. Perhaps it’s similar to the previous theory and Bradford is an undercover agent and is performing illegal, shady activities for the government. Whatever the case may be, James states that this theory hasn’t been fleshed out in any way that provides us with much detail. He does, however, raise a very good point: if this theory were the case, then on Earth did the FBI put Bradford onto their list of the ten most wanted fugitives? Some may argue that it’s merely to give the illusion of being the good guys, but I find it odd that they would draw attention to Bradford if he was being protected by them.

Conspiracy 3: Yugoslavians

The third conspiracy, which is also the final one, is that the murders were in fact an act of revenge by an unknown Yugoslavian entity. The reason? Well, Bradford may have acted as a spy while he was posted in that country (though I am unaware of him ever having been posted there, though he did learn to speak Serb-Croat). Those that subscribe to this theory state that Bradford was monitoring various broadcasts put out by the Yugoslavian government for anything of value and that, at one point, Bradford’s superiors had put him in charge of infiltrating a Yugoslavian ski team. Apparently, the team was going to Italy to try and recruit spies.

This theory sounds like something out of an espionage thriller, though is there any truth to it? Well, I can’t vouch for what Bradford did while serving as an intelligence officer, but James states that the monitoring broadcasts isn’t exactly something that governments would want revenge on. As for the ski mission, Bradford himself told friends that he had failed miserably while on that mission. As such, it begs the question as to why the Yugoslavian government—which wasn’t exactly known for ordering assassinations—would want to kill a spy that screwed up a mission.

From there, James talks about conspiracy theories that involve him, but I don’t see those as necessary to cover; he isn’t our focus after all. Though before we move onto the theories, I want to discuss two things related to the comments section of the blog. The first comes from a person with the username by the name of WSTA. It was made on April 5, 2016. Here’s the comment:

Having covered this story from the very beginning, as a local Maryland journalist and news director, I've always had the firm belief that Bishop and Leo never made it out of the Great Smoky National Park.

The purchase of a pair of sneakers at a local store just before the car was found. The discovery of Bishop's medications in the vehicle's glovebox. No one at the park saw either Bishop or Leo at the time the car was parked, or immediately afterward. No confirmed reports of Bishop having been sighted anywhere else on this planet have been developed.

It just seems too obvious that Bishop and Leo took a walk far from the well-worn trails in the park to meet their end. Leo was taken first; Bishop then ended his own life in some secluded site well out of ear-shot to the report of a weapon. Both are still there somewhere, missed by the initial search teams despite their best efforts. It has happened before (the Molly Bish case comes immediately to mind). Who knows, maybe if the search area had been expanded at the time.

I want you to keep this comment in mind as we’ll be returning to it later. However, I wanted to place it here so it’s in your mind for that moment. If you want, take a moment to think about the theory.

The second thing related to the comments is a brief exchange between an anonymous user and James himself. The two comments were made on July 26, 2017 and July 27, 2017. The exchange involves the possibility that Bradford committed suicide. For the sake of consistency, I’ll place them here so you can read them; here’s the first comment:

If Bishop were going to off himself, why move the bodies at all? Why burn the bodies? Why buy shoes? He moved and burned the bodies to buy time and distance from Maryland and discovery of his crime. He did not kill himself in those woods.

Now here’s the reply from James:

Exactly. Law enforcement has been scratching their heads for four decades over these contradictions in the case. Some point to Bishop's unstable mental state as a possible explanation.

My purpose for leaving these two here is simple: in spite of the long time that has passed since the murders, the speculation surrounding the case hasn’t waned. People are still interested in this case and it shows with moments of speculation like this. Though I guess with that little teaser of sorts, it’s time to state the obvious: the story of William Bradford Bishop comes to an end.

This is, without a doubt, one of the most morbid stories I’ve ever read if I’m to be honest. While not exceedingly grisly like many other murders I’ve read about, the cruel nature of it stands out to me. Bradford’s usage of a hammer to get so close to his own children, his mother, and the woman he loved enough to marry strikes me as something so personal in nature that I can’t help but wonder what went through the minds of the victims. Their father, their husband, their own son—standing over them as he beat them with a hammer. It takes a special kind of evil to commit an act so heinous in nature. Though let’s not get caught in the anger of it all. Let’s move onto the theories and see what exactly happened to Bradford after he fled.


1. Bradford is alive

Our first theory is that Bradford is still alive. Given the numerous sightings of him in Europe, it stands to reason that he’s been living—constantly going from place-to-place to avoid capture. This stands to reason given his history of having been posted overseas while working for the U.S. State Department. He’s also fluent in French and Italian, so he could easily live in France and Italy without much of a worry. There’s also the sightings in various European countries that we went over earlier. Though oddly, nothing has ever pointed towards him having fled to Africa. While yes, it’s been reported he did go to Ethiopia, no sightings outside of that one story has ever stated he has been there. Though more on this later.

Clearly, if Bradford is still alive, he’s been laying low in various countries in Europe. Given the lack of sightings nowadays though, that would indicate that he’s either living an extremely quiet, reclusive life. The question now is: what evidence is there?

Well, that’s a very tricky question to answer. There are two categories to what sort of evidence there is. The first we’ll look at is the sightings, which have been sparse at best, but nonetheless have people whose claims aren’t the most absurd. Rather, they’re quite credible, coming from people who have genuine reasons to suspect that the person they interacted with was actually William Bradford Bishop.

In the case of the woman in Stockholm, collaborating with him in Ethiopia makes sense. He’d been posted there while working for the State Department and Sweden as a whole is generally considered a safe country (whether or not that still applies nowadays is a different story, at least depending on who you ask). So the idea that Bradford would be in the country is extremely unlikely—at least in the eyes of the general public.

As for the report from Roy Harrell, the idea that a man would run off after being asked to turn himself in (or at the mere mentioning of his name, depending on which version you believe), is next to none. Unless there were two people named Brad Bishop who were either wanted or had some sort of bounty on their head, I see no reason to doubt Roy’s story. Of course, there is always the possibility that he was lying for some unknown reason.

With the third and final of the reports, I find it exceedingly difficult that someone who had known Bradford would mistake him from someone else. However, at the same time—and this goes for the previous one too—the odds of this happening seem astronomically small. At the same time, we’re also discussing someone who had plenty of ties in Europe and who also knew how to keep his head low (having had intelligence training in some capacity). So the idea that he wouldn’t remain in Europe and may have jumped from country-to-country is something I can very easily believe—personally at least.

So is it possible that Bradford is alive? Well, possibly. Though before we sign off on this theory, let’s go over the other two. We have a lot more to discuss and a lot of interesting aspects that need to be looked over before we make any final decision.

2. Bradford committed suicide

The second theory is that Bradford committed suicide after abandoning his car and that his body is somewhere in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The reason for this is that he felt immense guilt for what he did and decided that, rather than spend the rest of his life on the run, he chose to simply end it all.

I’d normally end the theory there, but I want to address that comment made by WSTA, I think it’s possible that Bradford did kill himself shortly after the murder—just like Robert Fisher potentially died shortly after killing his family. I don’t think there’s any reason to doubt that the man has died, especially given the lack of sightings in so long. While the woman in Stockholm claims she saw Bradford, it’s entirely possible that it was simply a case of mistaken identity and that she saw a man who resembled him. As for whether or not he committed suicide though, that I’m a bit on the undecided side on. I think it’s more likely that he died of exposure or fell from somewhere. I have a bit of a hard time believing that he would have committed suicide, though it’s well within the realm of reason to suspect that he did kill himself. So whether it was due to guilt, shame, or fear, I couldn’t tell you.

At the same time, I’d like to state that a man as prideful as Bradford is someone who I wouldn’t think would succumb to his own guilt. He thrived on being the alpha male; his pride was so great that I cannot imagine he would accept defeat to something like guilt. It doesn’t fit who he is at his heart and as such, I find it very difficult to really buy into this theory. Though it is a very popular one and I’d be lying if I said that I thought it wasn’t the case.

3. Bradford is deceased

Speaking of not being alive, some suspect that he is, in fact, dead, though instead of it being due to suicide, Bradford instead died of old age or from health complications.

Given that Bradford would be 84 this year, he would likely be in an assisted living home. Though it’s always possible he’s avoided any public contact for fear of being caught, instead living (as stated earlier) a life that’s closer to that of a recluse. Either way, he would be an extremely frail man at this point and would likely be doing next to nothing in day-to-day life. However, there haven’t been any sightings of him in a considerable amount of time and there haven’t been any updates on the case in the way of leads, so one could plausibly guess that he’s been deceased for some time. Though it is possible that he lived up until recently, but died from Corona. However, it’s likely that he would have had records in Italy from his time having been posted there.

My Take

To start things off, I want to say that I want to address something that I find extremely odd. I’ve stated a few times throughout this write-up that I find it really strange that Bradford has (or had) a degree in African Studies and as such, clearly had an interest in Africa as a whole, I find it weird there weren’t more sightings of him in Africa in some capacity. Whether that was with humanitarian work or something like that, it strikes me as really bizarre that he never bothered to relocate there, even if briefly.

That, coupled with him having never learned any of the numerous native languages there, really boggles my mind. While sure, I could be overthinking this, there are 30 other languages in Botswana alone that show he could’ve learned any number of them if he so wished. Yet, he never did. Now perhaps I’m just overanalyzing things, perhaps I’m just being a complete lunatic who’s looking for things that don’t matter, but I’ve always found that detail strange. Though I digress. I’ll concede that I’m likely being a dingbat who thinks that minor details constitute something important.

In regards to whether or not Bradford is still alive, that’s something that I’m a bit torn on. Given that he would be 84 come August of this year, I’m honestly inclined to suspect that he’s now deceased. While I can’t prove this, I’m doubtful that a man who would be under so much stress and constantly on the move to avoid being recognized would live to see his 90s. However, should he still be alive, I doubt he’s fairing all that well given the Coronavirus pandemic. While Europe’s cases aren’t nearly as high as other countries (though Italy has had it rough), Bradford would still be at extreme risk if he were to become infected.

If he is still alive, I would suspect that he’s either in France, Italy, or Sweden. He can speak the former two languages and he’s already been seen in Stockholm, so I have no reason to doubt that he would still be there if he has some sort of connection to the country.

In the case of Leo—the family dog if you’ve forgotten—I honestly think that Bradford either killed him and buried the dog somewhere. If he didn’t, it’s probable he took him wherever he went until Leo died. I have no idea how much he meant to Bradford, but that would be an extremely critical piece of information to decide as to whether or not Bradford killed him or not.

As for the “dark-skinned woman”, this is something I genuinely don’t know the answer to whatsoever. It’s possible that she was someone that Bradford knew or simply a woman he’d met at the store and they happened to start talking. I see no reason to believe that she was some CIA/U.S. government agent or a mistress. At the same time, her possible presence at the crime scene is a bit weird. Though I don’t believe that she was ever there and I personally think she was just someone that Bradford had met at the sporting goods store.

My reason for that belief is simple: I don’t see anything that points to Bradford having had an affair. She’s never been seen with him at any point in the sightings that have taken place and no coworkers, from what I can tell, have ever stated that Bradford was in an affair. While he did complain about his wife, I find it really bizarre that this woman would be okay with him murdering his entire family without so much as batting an eye. So I genuinely don’t believe she was anyone of importance in the slightest.

As for the correspondence between Bradford and Albert Bankston, I have no idea why the two were talking to each other. I couldn’t even begin to speculate. While it’s common for high profile criminals to have “fans”, I cannot fathom why exactly Bradford chose Bankston or what interested him the most. So I leave this one up to you guys to decide.

On one final note: I’d like to simply say that I’ll never understand how on Earth one man could be so heartless as to bludgeon his family and mother to death; it’s such a cold, sadistic act and for what? Being passed up on a promotion. To those that believe that Bradford “snapped”, I’ve got news for you. There was nothing about this that equated to a man “snapping”. It was premeditated from the start. The lack of a promotion was likely an excuse to execute his plan. Why, I couldn’t tell you, but nothing about this equates to a man “snapping”. That’s a load of trash.


To end this write-up off, I want to briefly go over some factoids that the FBI has listed on their website. They are as follows:

Bradford was an avid outdoorsman, camper, and hiker. He’d spent a fair bit of time camping while posted in Africa. Other activities he enjoyed were: canoeing, fishing, swimming, jogging, tennis, skiing, and riding motorcycles. Bradford also worked out several times a week and was a licensed amateur pilot, having learned to fly while he was posted in Botswana.

Bradford wrote quite a bit and it’s likely he has, or had, a diary or journal. He also suffered from insomnia. He was also described as being “intense” and “self-absorbed”, being prone to violent outbursts. He also preferred a neat, orderly environment. He frequently drank scotch, wine, and enjoyed eating peanuts and spicy foods.

Should William Bradford Bishop be alive though, or if you have any information on where he may be, you can submit a tip anonymously here at the FBI’s official website. If you know him personally though, be warned that he is likely armed and extremely dangerous. There’s no reason to suspect that he won’t kill you or anyone else to escape prosecution, even in his old age.


  1. I feel like the oddities here are overstated. There's a whole alternate picture of this dude. He's been skating by academically and career-wise his whole life, following a predetermined plan - always taking the easy option. Nothing about his interests suggests otherwise. Both his university paths suggest this - prestigious first college but easy subject, less prestigious second college, easy subject, and his masters was again, in an extremely easy subject in that period. I don't think he had any genuine interest in Africa - I think he had an interest in getting a Masters as easily as possible, because it was part of his career-path. Then you find his language choices odd. I don't - he likely knew Latin, and once you know that and one of Spanish/French/Italian the rest are easy to pick up - the lazy option. Serbo-Croat is harder to figure out but testing standards were likely low.

    After that it looks like a common or garden variety family annihilation. Yeah, the setbacks were minor - but that's true for most men who murder their families - usually the setbacks are pathetic, laughable even. You don't think he would take his own life? Many family annihilators eventually do. They generally think they're "alpha males" types like him - where they survive they often give the reason that they couldn't provide for their family as part of the reason for murdering them all - often this is patently ludicrous. Anyway, at the first serious bump in the road of his life, not getting promoted and a tax audit, dude freaks and murders his family. It's a sadly routine story.

    The main difference is nowadays it usually gets found out so fast they don't get far before the cops catch up with them, whereas this guy likely either died in the wilderness somewhere (possibly not intentionally) or fled the country. If the latter, I don't think he'll have done well (esp. given how he reacted to this minor setback). You're skeptical re: teacher - I'm not - if you're a foreigner looking for a job and you can't give your real identity or qualifications it was an ideal job in the past (not so today).

  2. he is right here in the state of ARIZONA 3-20-2023