WASHINGTON - The FBI is exhuming the body of a John Doe buried in Alabama in 1981 in its search for a 10 Most Wanted Fugitive accused of killing his family with a sledgehammer nearly 40 years ago.
In court filings, the FBI said there is a strong resemblance between photos of the John Doe and former State Department diplomat William Bradford "Brad" Bishop Jr. He is accused of using a sledgehammer to kill his wife, mother and three sons in their Bethesda, Maryland, home in 1976. Their burned bodies were found in a shallow grave in Columbia, North Carolina.
The John Doe was killed when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while walking on a highway in Scottsboro, Alabama, in October 1981.
The last confirmed sighting of Bishop was at a sporting goods store in Jacksonville, North Carolina, the day after his family was killed. Two weeks later, his station wagon was found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just over 200 miles from Scottsboro.
Given the size of the park, which encompasses more than 500,000 acres, Bishop, an avid outdoorsman, "could have remained in the North Carolina/Alabama/Tennessee area for many years without being discovered," FBI agent Pamela Hanson wrote in an affidavit.
The FBI has Bishop's DNA on file and will use DNA testing to determine if the remains are a match, said Amy Thoreson, a spokeswoman for the bureau's Baltimore field office, which is handling the investigation. She could not give a timetable on when the results would be available.
After the unidentified man's death, the police chief sent his fingerprints to the FBI, but the FBI has no record of receiving the prints and no copies were kept.
Since Bishop was added to the 10 Most Wanted list, the FBI has received about 350 tips, Thoreson said. The Alabama case came to the FBI's attention from a viewer of the CNN program "The Hunt with John Walsh," which featured the Bishop case this summer. Scottsboro police had reopened the John Doe case last year and publicized a photograph of the victim.