Real Name: Molly Anne Bish
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Warren, Massachusetts
Date: June 27, 2000
Date of Birth: August 2, 1983
Weight: 127 pounds
Marital Status: Single
Characteristics: Caucasian female, Blond hair, blue eyes.
Details: Molly Bish and her family lived in the small community of Warren, Massachusetts. They were originally from Detroit, Michigan; however, they moved away after a disturbing crime occurred in their own neighborhood. A young woman had been abducted while walking home from work and was later found murdered. The Bish family felt that Warren would be a much safer place to raise their children. This appeared to be true for the next fifteen years.
When Molly was sixteen, she got her first job as a lifeguard at Comins Pond in Warren. The pond is somewhat isolated, surrounded mostly by woods. On June 27, 2000, her mother Magi dropped her off at the pond. Three hours later, she received an alarming phone call from a police officer. Several people had reported that there was no lifeguard at the pond. She rushed there, where she found Molly's flip flops, chair, first aid kit, radio, and lunch sitting on the shore. However, there was no sign of her.
Police searched the pond and the surrounding woods. However, Molly could not be found. Although there was no sign of struggle at the scene, police and her family were convinced that she was abducted. Magi now believes that she may have seen Molly's abductor on the day before her disappearance. The man was sitting in a white car in the pond's parking lot when she dropped Molly. She found his presence there uncomfortable. On the day of her disappearance, Magi did not see him there. However, he was spotted by other witnesses in the parking lot and at a nearby cemetery.
After Molly's disappearance, her family created a website to try and publicize the case. They also set up an email chain to get word out about her; over 30,000 people received emails about her disappearance. In 2001, Magi contacted famous sketch artist Jeanne Boylan; she agreed to make a composite of Molly's abductor. The two met at a local bed and breakfast. For nine hours, they chatted while Jeanne worked on the composite. When it was finished, Magi felt that it was accurate, except that it was missing something. She asked Jeanne to update the drawing to include the man holding a cigarette. The next day, she updated it; Magi was certain that the composite was identical to the man she had seen. Despite this and other leads, no trace of Molly nor her abductor have been found.
Molly's disappearance has turned her parents into staunch child safety advocates. They hope that, through their efforts, they can prevent children from becoming victims.
Suspects: On June 26, the day before Molly vanished, Magi accompanied her to the pond for her seventh day of work. When they pulled up to the parking lot, she noticed a man parked there. He was smoking a cigarette and sitting in a late model white car. His presence made her feel uncomfortable. She looked at him, but he did not acknowledge her. She escorted Molly down to her post and expected the man to be gone by the time she returned to the parking lot. However, when she returned to her car, the man was still there. The two stared at each other for several seconds. Fearing for Molly's safety, Magi waited in her car for several minutes until the man finally left.
On June 27, the following morning, Magi again accompanied Molly to the pond. This time, the unknown man was not there. Instead, there was a truck unloading sand for the beach. The sand truck driver reported seeing the man parked in the parking lot just minutes before Magi and Molly arrived. Later that day, a worker noticed a similar car parked at a nearby cemetery connected to the pond by a path.
Police focused their investigation on the unknown man in the white car. A sketch of the man was made and circulated. Despite a thorough investigation which involved examining local sex offenders, no identification has been made.
He has brown hair, dark eyes, and was approximately fifty-years-old at the time of Molly's disappearance. He is possibly a heavy smoker.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the September 4, 2002 episode. It was also featured on Haunting Evidence, America’s Most Wanted, Disappeared, and On the Case with Paula Zahn. The case was referenced in "Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland," written by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.
Results: Unresolved. In June 2003, three years after Molly vanished, her body was found five miles from the pond at a place called Whiskey Hill. Her bathing suit was also found nearby. Although no cause of death could be determined, the manner of death was ruled a homicide. Her killer has not yet been apprehended, but the case remains open and active. A $100,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.
Although the case remains unsolved, several persons of interest have been identified and questioned. In 2007, a sex offender named Robert Burno was named after he tried to abduct and assault a jogger in Brimfield, a few miles from Warren. He also matches the suspect's description.
In 2009, convicted murderer Rodney Stanger was named a suspect in Molly's murder. He had lived in the same area as her family at the time of her disappearance. He also lived close to the YMCA where she took her lifeguard certification classes. He was also known to frequent the pond and the wooded area where her body was found. He also matched the suspect's composite. Finally, before her murder, his girlfriend claimed that he may have been involved in murders in Massachusetts.
In 2011, another sex offender named Gerald Battistoni was named a suspect in Molly's murder. He also resembled the composite and had frequented the area where her body was found. His rape victim also lived near the pond. He died in November 2014.
To add to the mystery, a ten-year-old girl named Holly Piirainen, who lived near Warren, was abducted and murdered seven years before Molly was. Interestingly, Molly had written a letter to Holly's family shortly after she disappeared. Both cases are similar, but Holly's has not been featured in the series. Forensic evidence eventually connected a deceased man named David Pouilot to it. Authorities are still investigating Holly's murder, but charges have not yet been filed.
In June 2016, it was announced that "enhanced DNA testing" would be applied to twenty-four pieces of evidence that have yet to be tested.
In June 2017, investigators claimed to have found "compelling" information in the case. The information led to a West Brookfield campground where the car used in Molly's abduction was alleged to be buried. Multiple areas of interest were found using ground penetrating radar. The information was about a new person of interest who lived at the campground around the time of Molly's abduction. At the time, he owned a white Buick LeSabre, similar to the one seen at the pond. A witness claimed that the man told him that "something bad happened" and that he was "in the woods all night" when Molly vanished. He also allegedly had bloody scratches on his face. However, he denied any involvement in the case and it is not known if anything was found during the 2017 search.
In 2019, new testing began on evidence in the case. Investigators are hoping that a DNA profile can be obtained from it.
In June 2021, investigators identified a new person of interest in the case: Francis "Frank" Sumner Sr. They had received several tips about him over the years; recently, they were able to corroborate and verify the information given about him in the tips. Sumner had been convicted of kidnapping and raping a young woman who went to his auto repair shop in 1981. He was paroled in 1998, just two years before Molly's disappearance. He lived in the Spencer, Leicester and Worcester areas, not far from where she vanished. He also resembled the composite sketch of the suspect. Unfortunately, he died in 2016 without ever being charged in the case. Investigators are still looking for more information about him.
- Molly Bish on Unsolved.com
- Molly's parents on the SPC website
- Molly Bish on Wikipedia
- 'This is evil' For family of missing lifeguard, waiting is agony - July 20, 2000
- Letter is eerie link in two missing-girl cases - October 27, 2000
- More bones found in search for missing Mass. lifeguard - June 8, 2003
- Convicted rapist says he knew Molly Bish, denies wrongdoing - June 16, 2003
- 7 targeted in Molly Bish investigation - June 20, 2003
- DA: Bish murder probe narrows - June 20, 2003
- Bishes talk about missing children at event - October 26, 2005
- Fundraiser to benefit Bish family in wake of father’s recent stroke - October 11, 2007
- Man questioned in death of Molly Bish, due to go on trial in Florida in slaying of girlfriend - February 8, 2009
- Molly Bish, Rodney Stanger may have crossed paths - November 25, 2013
- Rapist's death may shed light on Holly Piiranien, Molly Bish cases - November 13, 2014
- Possible new evidence in the murder of 16-year old lifeguard Molly Bish - June 26, 2014
- Prosecutors to submit evidence in Molly Bish cold case for 'enhanced DNA testing' - June 19, 2016
- Investigators: 'Compelling' Information Found in Molly Bish Case - June 15, 2017
- Person of interest in Bish case denies involvement - June 15, 2017
- Family of murdered lifeguard addresses killer 17 years later - June 28, 2017
- 19 years later, family hopes new DNA testing will lead to Molly Bish killer - June 26, 2019
- Person of interest named in 2000 murder of Molly Bish - June 4, 2021
- Molly Bish on Find a Grave