WHAT HAPPENED? (1)
Born on August 2, 1983, Molly Bish was a 16-year-old girl from Worcester County, Massachusetts. She disappeared while working as a lifeguard in her hometown.
Molly's remains were found 3 years later in a neighboring county after the largest search for a missing person in Massachusetts history.
DISAPPEARANCE AND DISCOVERY
Molly was working as a lifeguard at the Comins Pond in Warren, Massachusetts during the summer of 2000. She was an honors student who had recently started dating a classmate, and was known for being outgoing, popular and silly. She was athletic and played on the soccer, softball and basketball teams at her high school. (2)
The day before Molly went missing, her mom had seen a mustached man with his white car parked in the lot where Molly's lifeguard post was located, which seemed a little bit suspicious at the time, but not enough that it rang any alarm bells. (1)
The morning of June 27 had started off rough, as Molly heard that her soccer teammate and friend had been hit by a car the night before and was in critical condition. But despite her sadness, it was the first day of swim lessons at the pond, and she had to go to work. (2)
Molly's mother, Magi, drove her daughter to the Pond and dropped her off near the lifeguard station, and did not see the strange man. Molly told her mom that she loved her and got out of the car to go to her lifeguard post. However, another witness reported that he had seen a man matching that description in the parking lot a few minutes before Molly got to work. (2)
After Molly was dropped off, her mother went home, not knowing she would be the last known person to see her daughter alive. One mother realized that there was no lifeguard present, but because it looked like everything had been set up, did not think much of it. However, the mother told the Parks Commissioner and Molly's boss that there was no lifeguard on duty once the lessons had started. At 11:44 AM, about 2 hours after she was dropped off, Molly's boss Ed Fett called the police to report Molly missing. (2)
A few hours later, police called Magi to let her know of her disappearance. The police believed that she may have ditched work to hang out with friends, but her parents knew that was extremely out of character for her. They contacted her friends, but nobody had seen or heard from her. (1)
Police believe that somebody may have faked an injury and asked for help. When she leaned down to open her first aid kit, which was left open, she was hit over the head and dragged somewhere where she could be loaded into a car and taken. (1)
An extensive search for the teen was launched immediately, the largest and most expensive in Massachusetts history. Her case was broadcast on America's Most Wanted, Unsolved Mysteries, and 48 Hours. (1)
In the fall of 2002, more than 2 years after Molly had disappeared, a hunter had seen a blue bathing suit in the woods on Whisky Hill in Palmer, Massachusetts. He did nothing about it until May 2003 when he mentioned it to a friend, who contacted the police. An intense search of the area turned up Molly's body on June 9, 2003... Only 5 miles away from her family's home. (1)
There have been many suspects in the disappearance and murder of Molly Bish. In 2005, a Connecticut man charged with attempted kidnapping was under investigation, but ultimately cleared of suspicion.
In 2009, one Rodney Stanger, a Florida resident convicted of murdering his girlfriend, was found to have lived a few miles away from Molly when the disappeared. He had moved to Florida just after Molly's murder. He had a white car similar to the one Magi had seen, and was known to fish in Comins Pond, and hunt in the woods where Molly was found. He also matched the description of the suspicious man. While being questioned about Molly's death, he was also questioned in connection with the 1993 murder of Holly Piirainen, a girl from the same area. (1)
However, he was not charged for either abduction and murder. (1)
In November of 2011, a man named Gerald Battistoni was named a suspect, as he had repeatedly raped a teen girl in the area in the 1990s. He attempted suicide when he was named a potential suspect in Molly and Holly's murders. He had been in the area where her body was found, and like Stanger, resembled the composite sketch of the suspicious man. DNA testing was done, but he died in November of 2014. (1)
As of now, 20 years after Molly disappeared, no arrests have been made in the case, and what happened to Molly Bish remains a mystery.
One of the most popular theories is that the attacker posed as someone who needed help, taking advantage of Molly's kindness and her job that was to help people. He subdued her in some way while she was distracted, and then dragged her body into the surrounding woods to load her into the car and murder her. (1)
Separate from a lot of other disappearances, there aren't many conflicting theories. Because her shoes were left behind, and because she was a hard worker who was excited for her job, no one really believes that she left on her own accord, or went to hang out with friends and was met with foul play on the way. Most theories end with abduction, there is just some question as to how he did it, and of course, who did it.
The police believe the man was local (at the time) and familiar with the area enough to hide her body in the woods where it wouldn't be found for 3 years, despite the largest search in state history. They also believe the man would have a history of violence against women. The composite sketch brought about many tips, and did resemble both men who were serious suspects in the case, so it may be safe to assume that the suspicious looking man was the man who took Molly. (2)
HOLLY PIIRAINEN (3)
The case draws some similarities, and thus, a possible connection, with the 1993 murder of Holly Piirainen, a 10-year-old girl from Grafton, Massachusetts who was killed while visiting her grandparents in Sturbridge. She and her brother had gone to the neighbor's house to see his puppies, but when her brother returned home, she did not.
Her shoe was found on the side of the road a bit later, and her body was found by hunters in Brimfield, Massachusetts 2 months later in October of 1993.
In January of 2012, the Hampden County Attorney announced that forensic evidence found near Holly's body was that of David Pouliot, one of the suspects who had died in 2003. He had hunted and fished around the area where Holly's body was found, but he was never formally named a person of interest.
Though Molly was 16 when she was killed, she would have been the same age as Holly in 1993 when she was killed. Because her body was also found in a heavily wooded area, police believed that the 2 cases could have been related. It was also discovered that Molly had written a letter to Holly's family when their 10-year-old went missing, saying she hoped she could help the family and hoped that their daughter would be found.
It has been 20 years since the bright, popular, athletic and kind Molly Bish went missing, and so far, there have been no further leads on the case. Molly's family was able to bury their daughter and cease any terrifying thoughts of what may be happening to her if she was still alive 3 years after her disappearance, but they know their daughter's killer is still out there, and justice has not been served.
I feel so sad for her mother. To not only be the last person to see your baby girl alive, but also to have seen the man who may have taken her but not report it because it seemed silly at the time probably weighs on her heavily.
With advancements in DNA testing and a family who is not ready to give up, I do believe there is a chance that Molly's case could be solved, and I certainly hope it is. 20 years have gone by without answers. It is time to find some.