As someone who was adopted, Kathy Gillcrist always wondered where she came from. But when she took a DNA test in 2017 — she had no idea that it would lead her to the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
Gillcrist revealed that she took the 23andMe test by chance.
“I had the option to check a little box that says I was an adopted child and I would be interested in finding siblings or other relatives,” she recently told the news outlet.
Her results first led her to a third cousin: Susan Gillmor.
After contacting Gillmor, Gillcrest learned that she lived in Maine and was interested in connecting — and surprisingly, they had a lot in common.
“We were amazed that we were a lot alike,” Gillmor told WECT. “We both were English majors; we were both teachers.”
Oh and one more VERY important piece of information? Gillmor conveniently is an amateur genealogist who could help fill in more pieces of her story.
It didn’t take long before Gillmor had tracked down their cousin’s birth mother. The woman had given up Gillcrist for adoption in 1957 for reasons remaining unknown. But her birth father was a bit more tricky to track down. It wasn’t until a few years later that they discovered his name…
“I’m looking at the surnames, I’m looking at names in common, I’m looking at geography — and his name is William Bradford Bishop Jr.,” Gillmor shared.
And upon further investigation, they found he was a former foreign service officer — and a federal fugitive.
Bishop has been wanted by the government since the 1970s when the FBI claimed he bludgeoned to death his 68-year-old mother, 37-year-old wife, and three sons in Bethesda, Maryland. The incident allegedly happened on March 1, 1976, when Bishop was just 39 years old.
But it wasn’t until 2014, when he was in his late 70s, that Bishop was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Bishop is believed to have transported all five bodies to Columbia, North Carolina, in an attempt to cover up his crimes — according to the federal agency.
“(He) dug a hole, a shallow grave, and laid the bodies in that shallow grave and then proceeded to set them on fire,” FBI case agent Charles Adam said in an FBI video post in 2014.
And while the bodies were eventually discovered, Bishop never was. He disappeared a short time later and has not been found since the crime took place, which is nearly 45 years ago.
Bishop held a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Yale University, as well as a master’s degree in Italian from Middlebury College in Vermont.
In 1976, he was working as a foreign service officer at the State Department in Washington, DC, but had been passed over for a promotion at the State Department the very same day the killings occurred. Bishop is believed to have snapped, killing his entire family in a fit of rage.
In the past four decades, he has been charged with murder and unlawful flight but if remains on the run, the now 84-year-old will continue to avoid prosecution.
“I said ‘Is it someone famous?’ She said, ‘Um, yeah.’ I just laughed,” Gillcrist recalled. “We have a great sense of humor in my adoptive family and I thought ‘Of course, my father’s a murderer!'”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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