Death of Molly Bish
August 2, 1983|
|Died||June 27, 2000
Molly Anne Bish (August 2, 1983 – June 27, 2000) was a sixteen-year-old girl from Warren, Massachusetts, who was abducted and then murdered while working as a lifeguard in rural Massachusetts. Her body was found three years later after the largest search in the history of Massachusetts.
In the summer of 2000, Bish worked as a lifeguard at Comins Pond in Warren. The day before her abduction, her mother Magi Bish claimed that she saw a man in a white sedan in the parking lot of the beach where her daughter's lifeguard post was positioned. Although the man looked suspicious to Magi, she had forgotten about him until after Molly's disappearance. The last witness to see Molly before she was kidnapped was her mother. Molly was wearing a blue bathing suit.
An extensive search took place to find Molly Bish. It was the largest and most expensive search for a missing person ever held in Massachusetts. Her case was profiled on the American television shows Disappeared, America's Most Wanted, Unsolved Mysteries, and 48 Hours. On June 9, 2003, Bish's remains were found five miles from her family home. A hunter had seen a blue bathing suit in the woods on Whiskey Hill in Palmer, Massachusetts in the late fall of 2002. In May 2003, he mentioned this to Tim McGuigan, who then made the possible connection to Molly Bish and contacted police. An intense search of the area soon located Molly's remains.
Molly's parents, Magi and John Bish, have started The Molly Bish Foundation in Molly's memory with the goal to spread the word about child safety.
Suspects and developments
To date, there have been no arrests in the case.
In 2009 a new suspect was investigated. Rodney Stanger, a Florida resident charged (later convicted) with murdering his girlfriend in Florida, had lived in Southbridge, Massachusetts – a few miles from the town of Warren – for more than 20 years, moving to Florida a year after the Bish murder. The sister of Crystal Morrison, Stanger's live-in girlfriend of 20 years, alerted the Massachusetts authorities about Stanger following her sister's Florida death. Stanger was known to have access to a white car similar to that seen on the day of Bish's disappearance, was known to fish in Comins Pond, was known to hunt in the woods where Bish's body was found, and closely matches the composite provided by Bish's mother of the man seen in the white car the day before the murder. Stanger has not been charged in the Bish case. Stanger is involved with an infamous news blooper, when Connecticut station WFSB mistakenly showed a photo of a hamster holding a clapboard instead of Stanger's mugshot.
In 2009, when Stanger was investigated in the Bish murder, police also questioned him in connection with the 1993 murder of Holly Piirainen in Southbridge. Bish and Piirainen were born the same year, and Bish had written a letter of hope to Piirainen's parents in 1993. Stanger was not charged in this case. In 2012, forensic evidence led authorities to name David Pouliot — who died in 2003 — as a person of interest in the Piirainen case.
In November 2011 Gerald Battistoni, a.k.a. Confidential Informant #62 for the Eastern Hampton County Narcotic Task Force, was named as a suspect in Bish's death by private detective Dan Malley of Massachusetts. Battistoni is currently serving a prison sentence for repeatedly raping a teenaged girl in the early 1990s. He attempted suicide in prison after newspaper articles identified him as a potential suspect in Bish and Piirainen's deaths. Battistoni, who has a criminal record dating back to 1980, had been in the area where Bish's bones were found and resembles a composite sketch of the man Bish's mother saw in the parking lot on the day her daughter disappeared.
Bish's family has requested that additional DNA testing be performed by the state of Massachusetts.
After Gerald Battistoni was named as a suspect, Private Detective Dan Malley and the Bish family asked for DNA testing to be done. Massachusetts police sat on the DNA evidence for over a year until Molly's sister figured out nothing was being done; the DNA evidence has since been sent to Texas.
- 48 Hours page on Molly Bish search. Accessed April 21, 2007.
- America's Most Wanted page on Molly Bish. Accessed April 21, 2007.
- Unsolved Mysteries article on Molly Bish. Accessed April 21, 2007.
- WCVB article on Molly Bish's recovery. Article accessed April 21, 2007.
- Boston.com article on Connecticut probe. Accessed April 21, 2007.
-  Accessed August 30, 2009
-  Accessed August 30, 2009
- Accessed August 5, 2009.
-  Accessed August 5, 2009.
- "Cold Case Murder of Holly Piirainen, 10, Linked to Dead Man". ABC News. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
- Jailed rapist apparently attempts suicide
- A break in unsolved Bish, Piirainen slayings? Accessed November 13, 2013