© Copyright 2018 by Kathryn Lynch
This is a love story gone horribly wrong…
Three or four times a week, the Old Lady spent time with her friend Bish. They had met in a food commodities line at the Senior Center two years before, and cherished each others company. Both had several college degrees. They loved to pass the hours reading, discussing and arguing about the latest news, and playing with her grandchildren. Bish had a family once, but his wife and children had been killed years before by a drunk driver.
Though each maintained a separate residence and had a small dog, they were, as younger adults would say, “friends with benefits”. Both loved the warmth of the intimacy they shared together in their golden years, never discussing this relationship with others, but cherishing it between themselves.
During the evenings she spent alone, the Old Lady enjoyed documentaries about unsolved crimes. Years of practicing law and time spent in courtrooms had made her curious about the evidence and the persons behind famous murders. John Walsh's “The Hunt”, was her favorite TV program as it tackled a single criminal or crime each week, in depth.
This week's featured criminal was William Bradford Bishop, a fugitive for more than 40 years. An American Foreign Service Officer, he decided that life with a family was too cumbersome. Using a brand new sledge hammer, he beat his wife to death, followed by the beating death of his mother as she returned from walking the family dog. Finally, he bashed in the heads of his three children while they slept. After loading the five bodies into the family car, he drove to a State Park about 200 miles away, wrapped them in a tarp, poured gasoline on them as they lay on the ground, and set them on fire. He walked away with the dog, and had never been captured.
A sculptress had fashioned a head which was covered and sat on a table. Walsh uncovered it with a dramatic flourish, saying that this was what the fugitive would look like today.
The Old Lady gasped for breath. She began to shake and tremble as her core temperature dropped suddenly. “No!, No!, No!”, she cried out over and over.
It was BISH!
Fear for the safety of her daughter and grandchildren consumed the Old Lady. She could not warn her family because this would place them in more danger than they already were. Overcoming her sense of loss, she filled in the information requested on the form provided by Walsh's site, including Bish's address, the make and year of his vehicle, as well as the places he was known to visit. This information would be forwarded anonymously to the FBI to facilitate his capture.
Weeks went by and nothing happened. She sent in the information a second time and concluded that it was widely believed that William Bradford Bishop had gone overseas. The FBI was waiting to hear from Interpol concerning the fugitive's location. She would have to solve this on her own.
That morning she purchased a claw hammer, a tarp, and a large gas can, which she filled and placed in the trunk of her car. The Old Lady called Bish, inviting him to go camping overnight with her in a faraway State Park. She would pick him up with his little dog in the afternoon.
It was a beautiful day. She was filled with heartache as Bish chatted happily, anticipating a campfire and the preparation of a delicious picnic meal.
When they arrived, he decided to take both dogs for a run down the trail. The Old Lady spread the tarp in an open area underneath the trees. It was her intent that Bish would anticipate the “benefits” waiting for him when he returned. She was not mistaken. When he saw her on the tarp, he lay down beside her, breathing heavily, closing his eyes, and slowly exploring her body.
So it was, that the claw hammer embedded itself over and over into his skull. When he was still, the Old Lady loaded the dogs, wrapped the tarp around his body and poured the gasoline over him. She placed the gas can and the hammer on top, and with a disposable lighter, ignited her work. The fire exploded upward with a loud “whoosh”, blackening the tree branches overhead and lighting the surrounding area as if it were afternoon once again. No one saw her as she drove from the area and returned to the road.
When she had gone about fifty miles, the Old Lady pulled over to the side of the road. An overwhelming sense of loss now pervaded her spirit. She wept for a long time.
The burn site in the park was examined by the State Police, assisted by the Forest Rangers. Several teeth were found containing sufficient DNA to identify the victim. He was Thomas Bishop Andrews, a popular English professor, a retiree and widower, who had taught at the main campus of the state university for thirty years. He was known to everyone as Bish. Faculty members provided them with his current address.
During the investigation, the authorities arrived in short order at the Old Lady's door. She was questioned and later charged with murder and arrested. At her first court appearance, she ranted and raved about killing fugitives, how the FBI was lazy, Interpol wouldn't do anything, and the extreme danger to her and the members of her family.
All agreed that she should undergo a psychiatric evaluation. After the report was submitted, she was declared unfit to stand trial and ordered that she should remain in the state mental hospital until she recovered sufficiently to be tried.
Epilogue: After five years, doctors do not see any improvement and they have concluded that she will probably spend the last of her days in their psychiatric institution.
The Old Lady spends her time staring into space, unfocused and glassy-eyed. Mysterious tears sometimes drip down her face. She speaks with no one, but without provocation she often cries aloud.
*This is a fiction story which incorporates actual biographical data about fugitive William Bradford Bishop.