Authorities in Alabama believe an exhumed body belongs to a notorious fugitive who has been missing since he was accused of murdering his family in Bethesda nearly 40 years ago.
The subject of a 1981 coroner’s photograph strongly resembles Bradford Bishop, a one-time diplomat who has been wanted after he allegedly viciously attacked his mother, wife and his three sons. They were all beaten to death with a sledgehammer.
The man in the 1981 photograph has long remained unidentified. On Oct. 18, 1981, eh was talking down Highway 72 in Scottsboro, Ala., when a car struck him and killed him, according to court filings. He had no identification and was assigned the name “John Doe”. A coroner took a photograph of him before he was buried.
The photo grabbed the attention of investigators with its striking resemblance to Bishop, who had a cleft chin, thin lips and sideburns, according to authorities.
After killing his family, Bishop stashed the bodies into the family’s maroon Chevy station wagon, police say, traveled 275 miles to a swampy, wooded part of North Carolina, dug a shallow grave, and set the corpses ablaze. Bishop’s station wagon was later located in North Carolina at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – about 207 miles from Scottsboro, Ala.
“Bishop was an avid outdoorsman and had extensive camping experience in Africa and could have avoided being seen,” court records state. “The GSMNP encompasses 522,419 acres and has 850 miles of hiking trails. Bishop could have remained in the North Carolina/Tennessee/Alabama area for many years without being discovered.”
On Tuesday, law enforcement officials filed an affidavit as well as an exhumation request in Jackson County, Ala., for John Doe’s body.
Authorities said they want to compare the DNA of the exhumed body to a sample of Bishop’s DNA, which was collected as evidence in the case.