DNA Test Led to Her Birth Father, and a Grim Accusation

William Bradford Bishop, Jr. allegedly murdered his wife, mother, and three children
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2021 3:32 PM CST
She Found Her Birth Father—on FBI's Most Wanted List
William Bradford Bishop, Jr.   (FBI)

Of all the secrets revealed by at-home DNA tests, Kathy Gillcrist's has to be one of the more extreme. The 63-year-old was adopted and quickly connected with her first known family member after taking a 23andMe DNA test in 2017: a third cousin named Susan Gillmor. As luck would have it, Gillmor is an amateur genealogist. The two women hit it off, and Gillmor helped Gillcrist track down her birth mother. Zeroing in on the birth father proved much tougher for Gillmor, who kept at it for several years until the a-ha moment: "I'm looking at the surnames, I'm looking at names in common, I'm looking at geography—and his name is William Bradford Bishop Jr.," she tells WECT. Thing is, Bishop is a federal fugitive on the FBI's most wanted for murder list. And the crime he allegedly committed isn't one you'd want to learn of while looking for your dad.

The FBI claims a then-39-year-old Bishop in 1976 bludgeoned to death his mother, 37-year-old wife, and three sons, ages 14, 10, and 5. Bishop was added to the most wanted list in 2014, and CNN reports FBI case agent Charles Adam said at the time that Bishop allegedly killed his family members in Bethesda, Maryland, then drove to Columbia, North Carolina, where he dug a shallow grave, put the bodies in it, and set them on fire. Gillcrist was born in 1957, a couple of years before Bishop's oldest son. The FBI says Bishop in 1976 worked as a foreign service officer at the State Department in Washington, DC, and learned he was passed over for a promotion on the day of the murders. Bishop's car was found abandoned in the Smoky Mountains; he was described as an avid outdoorsman who had gained extensive camping experience in Africa. (More DNA test stories.)

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