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The mysterious disappearance of William Bradford Bishop Jr.

William Bradford Bishop Jr. adorned FBI wanted posters for decades and was wanted worldwide. 46 years have passed since those fateful days in March 1976. William Bradford Bishop Jr. must now have reached the age of 86.

 

It's a gripping story, the kind of story fables are made of! Bradford Bishop loved scotch and wine, and he preferred peanuts and spicy food, according to his file with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington.

Over the years, the reputation of the fugitive Bradford Bishop became a legend, much like D.B. Cooper or the Isdal woman. There's even a song about him- "The Ballad of Bradford Bishop" composed by the group Coup de Grass from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Back in 2018, the FBI removed him from the ranks of the ten most wanted. Nothing had become of the case, and the FBI found no resolution. Neither did the local authorities in Maryland.  After all these years, clues are still coming into the FBI's Baltimore office.

The disappearance of the crime suspect is a complete mystery and several authorities over the years have come to believe that they inadvertently enabled Bradford Bishop to escape by issuing legend documents. The FBI is realistic about this case. "Even for seasoned travellers, it can be difficult to maintain a new identity in a foreign country," said Steve Vogt, special agent in charge of the Baltimore division. "If you are a US citizen, it is usually easier to hide in this country," he explained. "Americans overseas tend to stand out."

In the meantime-this was October 2014- police even thought they had found Bradford Bishop with the exhumation of the decomposed remains of one John Doe, a hitchhiker who was killed by a car outside a restaurant in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1981 and buried anonymously in a pauper's grave. But the genetic test came back negative, even though the two men looked alike.

 

In the Washington Post in 2014, the FBI described Bradford Bishop as " ... a seasoned world traveller fluent in five languages - as smart, savvy and able to blend in and build a new life in the United States or abroad."

It is likely that Bradford Bishop lives or lived in Europe. A further possibility is that he returned to California, where he was born.

Bradford Bishop was actually a normal guy who, according to the FBI, was a "hiker and camper who enjoyed canoeing, skiing and motorcycling".

Other sources believe that he went into hiding in the former Yugoslavia during the civil war from 1991 to 1995. However, according to a call from an anonymous tipster, there was also the possibility that Bradford Bishop had been taken to a consulate in New York.  This call was made two years after the actual event.

What had actually happened?

Bradford Bishop was linguistically a highly gifted person who in his younger years had served in the US Army in Germany from 1961 to 1963, then worked for the American State Department. Rumour has is he also worked for the CIA in countries such as Botswana in the Gaborone branch, which was at the time exotic. It is documented that he worked for the army's intelligence service in Italy. According to the FBI's in-depth analysis, there had been a security problem with Bradford Bishop in 1967 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Since his Army days, he had a clearance for top secret matters. But the CIA announced during 1976 that Bradford was too small a fish to have been the target of foreign agents.  He spoke Serbo-Croatian, Italian, French, Spanish and several other languages, which were then very useful to him during his probable escape.

Bradford Bishop is still wanted today for the murders of his wife, mother and children. He probably committed in the between the first and the 2 of March 1976 at their house at 8103 Lilly Stone Drive, Carderock Springs, Bethesda, Maryland.

The victims were Brad, 14; Brenton, 10; and Geoffrey, 5; Bishop's mother Lobelia, 68, and his wife Annette, an ex-cheerleader.

The exact timing of the murders is unclear. Witnesses at the subsequent inquest said they would investigate Bradford Bishop's involvement in intelligence activities in detail.

This is also the story of the famous ballet dancer Jacques d'Amboise, a soloist in George Balanchine's New York City Ballet. D'Amboise wrote in his memoirs that he almost walked into the drama that night in 1976. He and his wife had been invited to see the man he had known and respected for decades: Bradford Bishop.

In all the years before the crime, Bradford Bishop had been in and out of psychiatric therapy for treatment of depression. Otherwise, according to the investigating officers, there was no motive to be found for this grisly act. There was no evidence of infidelity towards his wife, no evidence of financial or professional problems. It became clear how wrong this statement was, when in 2017 the fugitive's daughter, Kathy Gillcrist was identified. She was an adopted child, of which she was aware. But Gillcrist did not know that her biological father- Bradford Bishop- was such a well-known man. Since then, the FBI has also been looking into the years Bradford Bishop was at Yale University, from 1957-1960. Perhaps a motive for the events of 1976 could be found in his years at Yale. He was prone to violent emotional outbursts, irascibility and took strong antidepressants. In 2014, it was revealed that he was bankrupt.

In March 2000 Lorene Klepacki of Asheboro, N.C., paid $38 at a flea market at the Greensboro Coliseum for an old diary. Inside the notebook was written, "Bradford Bishop Diary." A relative read about the Bradford Bishop case on the internet and called the Montgomery County Sheriff's office. The diary, which spanned the six years from October 1965 to October 1971, spoke volumes about Bradford Bishop. The name "Sonny" appeared in the diary and became the subject of much speculation as to whether she might have been the mysterious dark-skinned woman witnesses had seen in connection with the dumping of the bodies.

The trail peters out

Bradford Bishop murdered his family and then drove their dead bodies in a red Chevrolet station wagon to the area of Columbia, North Carolina, about 450 km from the actual crime scene in his native Maryland. He tried to set their corpses on fire in a previously dug hole. This was done with gasoline and other accelerants that Bishop had bought in Montgomery County.

He tried as best he could to cover his tracks. But at this point he was seen by a witness out with his dog and later probably in the company of a dark-skinned woman.

It was not until the 8th of March 1976, more than a week after the suspected crime, that a neighbour who had not seen the family for some time informed the police. One of the officers found blood, human bones, tissue, fibres and hair on the landing between the veranda and the front door, then on the floor and walls of the entrance hall, then all over the house.

The bodies of the family members, already found on the 2d of March 1976, were identified by means of the dental chart. The bodies were "overkilled", as the coroner recalled years later.

The car Bradford Bishop had used was found a few days later in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, near the Great Smokie Mountains, about 640 km from where the family had been found.

A witness testified that the car was parked there between the 5th and 7th of March 1976.A

After that, Bradford Bishop disappeared, with the exception that he was said to have been seen in a good dozen countries in Europe.

Three sightings were particularly interesting because they were apparently people who knew him from before or recognised him, such as a colleague who was with him on a business trip to Ethiopia.

Another witness recognised him in a park in Stockholm twice within a week.  She was absolutely certain, she stated to the FBI, that the man was Bradford Bishop.

She had not contacted the police because she did not know he was wanted for murder in the US. This all took place in July 1978, more than two years after the crime in Maryland.

In January 1979, Bishop was personally approached by a colleague in a public restroom in Sorrento, Italy. It is important to know that the witness, a certain Roy Alwin Harell Jr, knew Bradford Bishop very well and had spoken to him on the afternoon of his disappearance, according to the FBI files.

"Hi, you're Bradford Bishop?" And the man replied in a familiar American accent that he was not, and then fled into a busy city square in a literal downpour. He was poorly dressed, the witness stated.

On the 19th of September 1994, Bishop was standing a few meters away from a former acquaintance of the family, at the railway station in Basel, and she testified that he had got into a vehicle. Where he had travelled to, she could not say.

In 2010, authorities believed Bradford Bishop was living in Switzerland, Italy or a neighbouring state. It even came out that he had been in contact with a murderer at the state prison in Marion, Illinois, before the 1976 crime. Why, it was never clarified. Ken A. Bankston, as the man was called, died of cancer in prison in 1983, and he never revealed the secret of the correspondence.

Sources: 

State Department, USA

FBI

Washington Post

New York Times

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A segment on our site for all journalists and bloggers from Hungary

No return to the states of the Arrow Crossers

 

If there is no more freedom for journalists and citizens under Orbán, we must all resist. The world owed this fact to the brave Hungarians for the Pan-European Picnic in 1989. In memory: 

 

 
Journalists are always threatened and silenced in the most dubious circumstances.
Europe has a friendship with Hungary that cannot be broken even by governments.
For this very reason.
Everyone can offer resistance. Even we here. You there.

When there is no longer any hope that freedom of the press will be restored, we understood it for what it is:

We must all open a door of liberty.


Don't show solidarity with the Hungarian junta and book your next holiday at Lake Balaton.

For this to happen, much must change in Hungary. The rule of law must be restored in Budapest in line with European values. 

Insulting dictators is pointless. They know we do not like them.

We will open our door to anyone who has to fear prison sentences for freedom of expression or writing. Fake news that the regime in Budapest does not like will end in five years in prison. Everything is fake news that does not fit the neo-fascist Orbán into his dictatorship. 

Silence would be absurd and a cowardly gesture, with which one cannot act against a dictatorship of the regime under Orbán. It is not meant against brave Hungarian people.

We trust in God and freedom. What is talked about is not the point; what is done is more important for us.

Orbán uses the most critical moment in Europe after the war for his miserable power games, the Corona crisis. 

 

Orbán is a dictator, not yet a Hitler. But miserable democracy-hating dictator. 

In this context, I pay respect for freedom and democracy and respect for faith to all who need it against dictators.

Any Hungarian colleague who does not want to be named can publish here. We are setting up a blog for this purpose.

We check the article for plausibility and truthfulness. Nobody has to fear that someone will persecute him or her.

Every little detail of the regime is shown. No democratic apparatus will go over to intimidation, and all newspapers cannot be on Orbán line.

The former Reich Minister of Propaganda, Dr Joseph Goebbels, called it "Gleichschaltung". (Synchronization) The Hungarian dictatorship will undoubtedly put it differently. It is just as terrible.
We fight against political behaviour like this.

You are welcome in dark times, just then and now.

A democratic Hungary would not have to control human rights activists or journalists.

Specify what you would like to write in English or German, French and Dutch and Hungarian to the following mailbox: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Concerning colleagues who are threatened with imprisonment in Hungary

We demand freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Freedom of the press is a human right.

 

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Hymn to Europe

Europe means progress, freedom, development, security and peace.

Only such a form of government can be chosen. Everything else is ineligible.

Democracy is a challenging field that requires daily care. This care and nurturing have been neglected.

Europe carries the traditions in the development of the future and should become a central state in which the nations find their weighty voice. How the United States of America once had to grow together.

Everyone who is anchored in Europe contributes something to the big picture. Politics is not infallible. Only ideologies are not desirable. The enemy of democracy has taken a firm grip on Europe in its field.

The EU must be reformed, Macron has recognised this very clearly and precisely. Europe cannot and will not afford an autocratic nuance.

This is by no means an easy task. Many mistakes were made. One of them: Jean-Claude Juncker invited large corporations, which were downright offending consumers and also the state system. The euro came a few years too early as a common currency but continued to ensure Europe's economic success.

After the experience of World War II, nation-states joined together to form a pan-European house, a community of those who, after the knowledge of the wars, now saw that it was only possible to do it together. Adenauer and de Gaulle understood the call of the times. There were no longer enemies, but neighbours.

In the unfortunate video of Rezo and his thoughts, history, which laid the foundation for European politics, was never mentioned. It was the protest video of a politically ignorant "snotty guy" who earns quite a bit of money on youtube when he posts such productions that the "No Future" generation loves.

In their wishful thinking to create a step-by-step society again, the nationalists see the election as the last chance to reorganise their old rotten world view.

What nationalism means can be seen in the inglorious example of Mr Strache and his Adlatus in the villa on Ibiza. Nationalism is the shame of the world. Such parties should be subject to a ban since they are probably defined by corruption and inhuman world views.

Now nationalists, like their left-wing political opponents, can polarise.

This polarisation grows more and more every day. This is what the right-wing dregs speculate on, as always in history.

A Democrat is forbidden to believe in what the speculators of division expect from their future. Their only aim is to enslave the people so that they may prosper, see Strache and his companions.

The left-wing mob showed its real face in Hamburg two years ago, namely anarchy and looting, rebellion against everything that developed in decades of system.

It is up to the voter to eliminate any possibility of polarisation. Through the voice, which is as valuable individually as it is in the crowd. This strengthens democratic forces, which now have to take massive action.

To choose Angela Merkel out of hatred for the person Angela Merkel is the wrong direction. In autumn 2015, she did not act politically, but humanely, which may be blamed on her.

The chaos in which nationalism ends can be seen in Great Britain, which is destroying itself because there are money-hungry and short-term thinking forces that certainly pay well for their convictions. These are not their convictions, but the profit of the gang around Farage and Johnson is in the foreground of the "putsch" against the at times confusing sounding Theresa May.

Who wants such governments? Nobody. A state would dissolve if, as we can see, such people came into office and dignity.

Democracy, civil rights and freedoms no longer count for anything among nationalists. Minorities would be mercilessly persecuted, with the hatred of any dictatorship.

No one wants such eternalists who are not able to foresee the consequences of their actions. Declaring Europe a fortress contradicts the fundamental values of what Europe wants to be and can be, an open society in which neither borders nor obstacles are raised.

Those who are against it are only looking for their own transparent reason.

Who chooses, everyone should choose freedom, and what conscience suggests. But everyone should also think about the future of all in a united and prosperous Europe.

 

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