BALTIMORE, April 10 (UPI) -- William Bradford Bishop Jr., a U.S. diplomat who allegedly killed his wife, sons and mother in 1976, was added Thursday to the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" list.
Bishop, who was nicknamed "the family annihilator," was last seen March 2, 1976, buying a pair of sneakers in a store in Jacksonville, N.C. The same day, rangers discovered the bodies of his family burning in a heavily wooded area near Columbia, N.C.
Investigators say Bishop, 77 if he is still alive, bludgeoned his family at their home in Bethesda, Md., on March 1 and then drove to North Carolina in the family station wagon with the bodies inside. The car was found abandoned in North Carolina.
Steve Vogt, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore office, said Bishop, a Foreign Service officer, had lived overseas and spoke several languages fluently. But he said investigators are inclined to believe that he was able to create a new identity for himself in the United States.
“If you’re a U.S. citizen it’s usually easier to hide in this country,” Vogt said. “Americans overseas tend to stand out.”
Vogt said the area where the bodies were found was searched in 1976 and nothing to suggest Bishop might have taken his own life was found. He said the FBI will assume he is alive until there is proof of his death.
While Bishop got a lot of publicity in 1976, Vogt is hopeful a public appeal now will be more fruitful.
“When Bishop took off in 1976, there was no social media, no 24-hour news cycle,” Vogt said. “There was no sustained way to get his face out there like there is today. And the only way to catch this guy is through the public.”
Bishop, a Yale graduate who worked in military intelligence before joining the State Department, had just learned he would not get a hoped-for promotion. His wife, Annette, was 37 and his sons were 5, 10 and 14 when they were killed.
In 2011, Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., where he had been living quietly under an assumed name for more than a decade.
John Emil List, who killed his wife, mother and teenage children in New Jersey in 1971, was arrested after living under an assumed name for almost 18 years and died in a New Jersey prison in 2008. List, who had gone back to work as an accountant and was married to a woman he met at a church picnic in Colorado, was identified after the TV program America's Most Wanted ran a story on him that included an age-enhanced picture.