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FBI: Suspect in 1976 killings has LA-area roots

Posted: April 18, 2014 12:38 p.m.
Updated: April 18, 2014 12:38 p.m.

An age-progressed bust of the suspect which the FBI says is its Most Wanted list suspected of bludgeoning his mother, wife and three sons to death nearly 40 years ago.

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former diplomat on the FBI's Most Wanted list suspected of bludgeoning five family members to death with a hammer nearly 40 years ago in Maryland has Southern California roots and may be in the region, authorities said.

Agents are taking a second look at the case of William Bradford Bishop Jr., who hasn't been seen since the day after authorities said he killed his mother, wife and three sons at their home in the Maryland suburbs of Washington in 1976. Bishop, a State Department employee at the time, allegedly dumped their bodies in a shallow grave in North Carolina and burned them.

The victims' bodies weren't identified until a week later, giving Bishop ample time to plot a getaway.

Investigators commissioned an artist to create a bust that approximates what the 77-year-old would look like today, the FBI said Thursday.

The FBI, the State Department and local police established a task force last year to review the Bishop case, and authorities hope that by placing him on the list, the public might be able to help find him.

Bishop was born in Pasadena and still has associations in the area. He was also known to have an affinity for the Sierra Nevada.

"Investigators believe there is a strong possibility Bishop could have returned to places with which he was familiar near Southern California, or the mountains in the state of California or Nevada," an FBI statement said.

There is no evidence to indicate Bishop's whereabouts.

Investigators have said it's possible that Bishop fled to Europe and is living there under a false name. A Yale graduate who later earned a master's degree in Italian, he is fluent in five languages.

There hasn't been a confirmed sighting of Bishop since 1976, in Jacksonville, N.C., although three people who knew him have reported spotting him in Europe over the years, most recently in 1994.

"Bishop broke with his life and assumed a new identity. Because of that fact, most traditional fugitive investigative techniques are worthless," said Steve Vogt, special agent in charge of the FBI Baltimore Division. "We're hoping media and people who are active on social media pay attention to this; they'll be the ones to solve this case."

Bishop was added to the Most Wanted list this month.

People on the list have included Osama Bin Laden, Boston organized crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger and James Earl Ray, who assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The list was founded in 1950, and more than 90 percent of the 501 people placed on the list have been found.

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