FBI seeks 'family annihilator' in 1976 murders

Man placed on 10 Most Wanted List

BETHESDA, Md. - A Maryland man wanted for allegedly beating his family to death with a hammer 38 years ago has been added to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List.

William Bradford Bishop Jr. is wanted for allegedly killing his wife Annette, mother Lobelia, and three sons, William Bradford III (14), Brenton (10) and Geoffrey (5) at their Bethesda home on March 1, 1976. The FBI said the killings took place the same day Bishop, a former State Department worker was passed over for a promotion. He was also under care for depression, the FBI said.

Investigators believe after the murders Bishop drove to rural North Carolina, buried the bodies in a shallow grave, and lit them on fire. The United States Attorney’s Office in Maryland has charged Bishop with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in the murders.

The FBI said Bishop, who would now be 77 years old, has not been seen since he bought a pair of sneakers in Jacksonville, N.C., in 1976. A witness said Bishop was with a woman who was walking a dog described as an Irish Setter but is believed to have been the family’s golden retriever Leo.

Investigators with the FBI’s Baltimore and Washington Field Offices, Montgomery County Police Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, and United States Department of State formed a task force in May 2013 to review the case as part of a cold case initiative.

“Media wasn’t the same in 1976 as it is now. You didn’t have 24-hour news stations that many people watch in the gym or sitting in airports. You also didn’t have social media, like Facebook or Twitter back then,” said Steve Vogt, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Division in a statement. “All that has changed with the Bishop case is the passage of time. Bishop broke with his life and assumed a new identity. Because of that fact, most traditional fugitive investigative techniques are worthless. 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.”

The FBI called Bishop very intelligent as he was Yale educated and learned to speak many languages while working in the United States Foreign Service.  He was also a licensed amateur pilot who learned to fly in Botswana, Africa. However, he was also a longtime insomniac was also prone to violent outbursts and preferred a neat and orderly environment.

“This was a horrific case that involved five innocent members of one family, including three young children, who were all brutally murdered in a place in which they felt safe and by a person whom they trusted. It is unthinkable that a man who is a son, a husband, and a father could commit such a terrible crime,” said Chief Thomas Manger with the Montgomery County Police Department in a statement.

Bishop is believed to have taken with him a Smith and Wesson .38 revolver he inherited from his father with the serial number C981967. He had been seen in many photos wearing his class ring from Yale, something that meant a lot to him and that he still may have or wear.

If you have any information about Bishop, you are asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI. You could receive a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to his arrest. If you are overseas, you are asked to go to the nearest embassy or consulate.

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