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Murder


       January 25, 2014 3:54 PM

 The Strange Case of Amy Bishop


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The Bishops seemed like an ordinary two-parent family with two bright children. They owned a big Victorian (photo left) in Braintree, MA, a suburb south of Boston. In 1986, Samuel was a film professor at Northeastern University. His wife Judith was active in local politics. Seth, 18, was a Northeastern University freshman. Amy, 21, was also at NU, majoring in biology.


On December 6, 1986, Amy had an argument with her father, who owned a 12-gauge shotgun which he kept in his room. After he left the house, Amy went upstairs to his room. Her mother and brother weren't home, but when they returned a short time later, Amy took the shotgun downstairs. Her mother and Seth were in the kitchen.

"I have a shell in the gun and I don't know how to unload it, Amy said.

  She turned to Seth and the gun went off, inflicting a large chest wound.

 Seth (left) died at the hospital. Amy (right) was never charged.

But Seth was not the last person she would kill.

In 2010, Amy, then a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, pulled out a gun at a faculty meeting and went on a shooting rampage. Three people died and three others were critically wounded.

The 1986 Shooting

While medical workers tended to Seth, who lay on the floor bleeding, Amy fled with the shotgun. On a nearby street, a worker at a Ford dealership saw a young woman with a shotgun looking into cars. "What are you doing here? he yelled.

"Put your hands up, Amy said. "I need a car. I had a fight with my husband. He's looking for me and he's going to kill me. Then she fled with the shotgun.

The worker called police, who found Amy outside a nearby business with the shotgun. One officer ordered her to put down the gun, but she refused. Not until another officer arrived did Amy drop the gun. Police found one shell in the gun, another in Amy's pocket, and took her into custody.

At the station, officers began to question Amy, but her mother came to the station and told the police chief that Amy had shot Seth accidentally. Amy was released and went home with her mother. Amazingly, police waited another eleven days to re-interview Amy.

Incriminating Evidence

Amy said she had never used a shotgun before and when she loaded it, the gun went off. The day of the shooting police had found evidence that Amy had tried to conceal the resulting holes in the wall. They also found a National Enquirer article about a similar shooting: a teenager had used a shotgun to kill the parents of actor Patrick Duffy, who played Bobby Ewing on the TV show Dallas, and commandeered a getaway car from a local car dealership.

However, no charges were ever filed against Amy Bishop for the death of her brother in 1986.

Huntsville, Alabama

After graduating from Northeastern in 1988, Amy married Jim Anderson, another NU graduate. They subsequently had four children. In 1993, Amy earned a doctorate at Harvard University and worked in labs at various Boston hospitals. On her 2003 application for a position at the University of Alabama in Huntsville [UAH], there was no mention of Seth's death in 1986 or subsequent disturbing incidents.

In 2003, Amy accepted a tenure-track position in the UAH biology department and moved to Huntsville with Jim and their four children. However, Amy alienated many people at UAH. A tiny slight could set off a violent reaction.


But in 2008, Amy appeared to be on the road to success. She and her husband, Jim Anderson, had developed an automated cell incubator to keep delicate nerve cells alive longer, which would facilitate experiments.

(photo left: Jim and Amy with their invention)


Tenure Denied

However, in March, 2009, Amy's bid for tenure at UAH was denied. Such denials are rare, other faculty members said, because UAH reviews tenure-track professors annually, warning them about areas that need improvement. Amy's department chair and other faculty members advised her to look for another job, but Amy appealed the tenure denial. When her appeal was denied in November 2009, Amy hired a lawyer and filed a discrimination complaint against UAH. She also bought a gun.

Retaliation

On February 12, 2010, the biology department faculty met in the UAH Shelby Center. Professor Debra Moriarty later testified that Amy sat silently through the meeting, which lasted about an hour. Inside the small room, people sat elbow to elbow around a conference table. Suddenly, there was a loud bang.

More gunshots quickly followed. As Moriarty watched, horrified, Amy shot professor Maria Ragland Davis in the head, killing her instantly. Moriarty dove under the table and screamed, "Stop, Amy, stop. Don't do this. I've helped you before. I'll help you again.

Amy aimed the gun at her and pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired. Moriarty managed to crawl into a hallway. Amy kept shooting at her, but the gun was empty.


As Amy took out more ammunition, Moriarty scrambled back into the room and others helped her push the table against the door.


Killed in the shooting were [left to right in photo above]: Dr. Adriel Johnson Sr., Biology Department Chair, Dr. Gopi Podila, and Dr. Maria Davis.


Three others were severely wounded.

Medical workers rushed Associate professor Joseph Leahy, Assistant professor Luis Cruz-Vera and staff aide Stephanie Monticciolo to the hospital.



Previous Payback?

On December 19, 1993, Dr. Paul Rosenberg, a professor at Children's Hospital in Boston, returned from vacation with his wife. A friend had collected the mail and left it inside their home. One was a long, thin package addressed to "Mr. Paul Rosenberg M.D. When Rosenberg opened the package, he saw wires and a cylinder inside. He and his wife left the house and called police.

The package contained two 6-inch pipe bombs connected to two 9-volt batteries.

The US Postal Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms questioned workers at Children's Hospital, and focused on Amy and her husband, Jim. Amy had worked for Rosenberg in the neurobiology lab, but had been forced to resign when Rosenberg stated that Amy "could not meet the standards required for the work.

One co-worker said, "We knew she had a beef with Paul Rosenberg. And we thought it was a really unbelievable coincidence that he would get those bombs.

Investigators focused on Amy because they knew about her history of violence, including the shotgun blast that killed her brother in 1986. On a computer at the Bishop home, investigators found a novel Amy was writing about a female scientist who had killed her brother and hoped to redeem herself by becoming a great scientist.

Investigators fingerprinted Amy and Jim to compare their prints to those found on the pipe bomb but were unable to tie any evidence found in the Amy's home to the pipe bomb. No one was ever charged in the case.

Rage Over a Slight


In 1996, while working at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Amy collaborated with Dr. Hugo Gonzalez-Serratos on a scientific paper. When Amy saw the finished the article, she flew into a rage because her name was not listed first. "She was very angry because she was not the first author, Gonzalez-Serratos said. "She exploded into something emotional that we never saw before. Her contract was not renewed.

The Critique Group

Amy was also an aspiring novelist. After her last child was born, she hosted a critique group at her home in Ipswich, MA. Others in the group said the sessions were often painful and they sometimes had the feeling Amy was about to explode. "Her writing was very dark, said one.

In addition to the novel investigators found on her computer after the 1993 pipe-bomb incident, Amy wrote a second novel about a female scientist who was a CIA operative and a third novel, a science-fiction story. Incorporating aspects of her work with the herpes virus, it involved a herpes-like virus that spreads across the planet, causing pregnant women to miscarry.

The Pancake Incident

One Saturday morning in March 2002, Amy and Jim took their four children to an International House of Pancakes in Peabody, MA. Amy asked for a booster seat for one of her children.

Told the last one had just been taken by another mother, Amy became angry and shouted: "We were here first.

She went to the other woman's table and screamed a profanity-laced tirade at the mother and her two young children. At one point she loudly exclaimed: "I am Dr. Amy Bishop!

When the IHOP manager came over and asked her to leave, Amy punched the other mother in the head and left. The manager took down her license plate number and called police. Amy was charged with disorderly conduct and assault and battery.

At a court hearing in May 2002, prosecutors urged a guilty finding, a year of supervised probation and recommended that Amy attend an anger-management program. However, the judge continued the case without a finding and the charges were dismissed.

After the Alabama shootings in 2010, Amy's husband, Jim Anderson, told one television interviewer that Amy had never sought anger management treatment. Asked if he thought she needed it, he replied: "I don't think so.

Asked if he saw any link between Amy's previous problems in Massachusetts and the Alabama rampage, Jim said: "No. "Nothing? said the interviewer. "Nothing, Jim replied.


Denial

Amy initially denied having anything to do with the UAH shootings.

One investigator quoted her as saying: "It didn't happen. I wasn't there. It wasn't me. He then added: "But you can't take a loaded 9mm gun and hold it inches away from human beings' heads and tell me you didn't mean to do that.

After the Huntsville massacre, Massachusetts officials convened a grand jury to investigate the death of Seth Bishop in 1986. On June 17, 2010, the grand jury indicted Amy for first-degree murder in her brother's death. Norfolk County DA William Keating issued a warrant requesting Amy's extradition to Massachusetts after her triple-murder case was adjudicated in Alabama.

Amy's parents, Samuel and Judith Bishop accused the media of sensationalism. "We know that what happened 24 years ago to our son, Seth, was an accident.

The day after her indictment for murdering her brother, Amy tried to commit suicide in the Alabama jail where she was awaiting trial.

She reportedly cut her wrists and left a note for her husband. She was taken to a Huntsville hospital for treatment.



Guilty Plea and Sentencing

On September 10, 2012, Amy Bishop pleaded guilty to one count of capital murder involving two or more people and three counts of attempted murder. Her attorneys had planned to use an insanity defense at trial; by pleading guilty, she avoided the death penalty.


On September 23, 2012, Amy Bishop Anderson was sentenced to life in prison without parole. [prison photo at left]


On August 16, 2013, the Alabama Supreme Court denied the appeal her lawyer had filed, ending her appeal options in the Alabama state court system. At this writing, Amy Bishop remains in prison.


For more details about this and other cases seee Volume Two of DARK DEEDS: Serial killers, stalkers and domestic homicides.

This could be categorized as a mass shooting or workplace massacre, but due to the apparent murder of Amy's brother, I chose to place it in the Domestic Homicide category. Either way, it is a horrific case. Please leave a comment and tell me your thoughts about it!

SOURCES

"Alleged Ala. Killer was suspect in attempted bombing of Harvard professor, Shelly Murphy, Boston Globe, 2-14-2010

"Records show Bishop was in scrap at IHOP, Salem News.com, 2-17-2010

"For Professor, Fury Just Beneath the Surface, Shaila Dewan, Stephanie Saul and Kate Zezima, New York Times, 2-20-2010

"Bishop indicted in brother's death, 6-17, 2010; "Bishop tries to commit suicide, Shelly Murphy, Boston Globe, 6-19-2010

"Ex-prof pleads guilty to killing Ala. colleagues, 9-11-2012; "Ex-prof gets life in prison for meeting rampage, 9-24-2012, Jay Reeves, Associated Press

"Amy Bishop appeal denied by Alabama Supreme Court, Paul Gatis, AL.com, 8-16-2013



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COMMENTS


[ Posted by Candace, January 13, 2015 10:49 AM ]
     I'm from Massachusetts and remember when she shot her brother. That was hushed up for years and what a shame because the three professors might be alive today if she had been imprisoned for her prior murder!

[ Posted by admin, January 14, 2015 3:49 PM ]
     Thanks for the comment! Yes, it seems to me, and many law enforcement people, that someone dropped the ball on the earlier homicide. And then she went on to cause so many other people so much trouble, including the man in Cambridge ... though they could never prove that Amy sent the makeshift bomb.
Susan


[ Posted by Freddy, July 15, 2016 2:00 PM ]
     It was all based on $$$ and political connections in our town back then... Judy was friends with the local officials, and they let her get away with her daughter killing her son. Judy knew her daughter was mentally ill...so believed it wasnt her fault...although she refused to get her mental health counseling and medications. She was more concerned with the way the community viewed her, and the hit it would take to her social status. Her grandparents and parents were wealthy and status conscience as well. Yes the police in our town, and others were bought off by this family....yes the murders did not have to happen. This case sickens me because i know the family for 20 years....

[ Posted by admin, July 15, 2016 3:09 PM ]
     Thanks for the comments. The shootings at the college probably could have been prevented if Amy's mother had acknowledged that Amy was deeply troubled when she shot her brother. However, it seems to me that her husband must also have known how psychologically impaired she was. Yet, he did nothing.
Susan


posted by SUSAN FLEET   January 25, 2014 3:54 PM  Domestic Homicide 



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