October 9, 2014 6:29 pm
Updated: October 9, 2014 8:21 pm

FBI exhumes body in hunt for ’10 Most Wanted’ fugitive search


WATCH ABOVE: FBI exhumes body of man who resembles most wanted fugitive

The body of a man suspected in the gruesome murder of his family nearly 40 years ago was exhumed Thursday in Alabama.

In 1976, authorities allege former diplomat William Bradford Bishop Jr., bludgeoned his wife, mother and three sons in their home in Bethesda, Maryland. Although no motive was determined for the killing, the FBI believes he was angry about being passed over for a promotion and was known for having violent outbursts.

The FBI added Bishop to the FBI Ten Most Wanted fugitive list in April, and was featured on CNN’sThe Hunt with John Walsh” in July when the FBI received a tip from a viewer who noticed the similarities between Bishop and an unidentified man involved in a cold case in Scottsboro, Alabama.

William Bradford Bishop is on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list for killing his family in 1976. (FBI Handout)

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The body being exhumed is that of man who was killed in 1981 while walking along a highway in Alabama, according to The Associated Press. The Alabama victim who was found had no identification and no personal belongings.

“Both John Doe and Bishop have cleft chins, distinctive noses, thin lips and similar hairlines and sideburns,” FBI agent Pamela Hanson wrote in a court document.

At the time of the murders Bishop was 39-years-old, and worked as a U.S. diplomat in Europe and Africa before moving to a home in Washington, D.C.

Investigators believe that following the killing he piled the bodies into his station wagon and drove to the countryside in North Carolina, where he dug a shallow grave and set them on fire using gasoline.

Bust of Bishop age-progressed to age 77.

(FBI Handout)

On March 9, detectives drove to North Carolina after receiving a tip from Bishop’s neighbour, where they discovered the bodies that would later be identified through the use of dental records as: 68-year-old Lobelia Bishop, 37-year-old Annette, 14-year-old William, 10-year-old Brent and 5-year-old Geoffrey.

Bishop was indicted on March 18, 1976 for the murders of his five family members.

Amy Thoreson, a spokeswoman for the bureau’s field office in Baltimore, told The Associated Press samples of the exhumed remains will be tested against Bishop’s DNA sample, which they have on file, for a possible match.

Bishop’s last confirmed sighting was in Jacksonville, North Carolina on March 10, 1976; the day after the alleged murders. The family dog was also never found.

*With files from The Associated Press

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