Let Amy Bishop Spend the Rest of Her Life in Alabama

Amy Bishop will spend the rest of her life in prison.  It’s where she belongs after killing three people at the University of Alabama, Huntsville.  A wise decision by the Norfolk District Attorney will be to dismiss the murder indictment pending against her here and put to an end this terrible tale of death which was compounded by a thrashing about searching to place blame on people in Norfolk County for the sad events in Huntsville.

The most amazing thing about the frenzy that occurred in this area that lead up to her indictment was the assumption that doing something, almost anything, other than what was done at the time she gunned down her brother on December 6, 1986, with a shot gun was directly related to her despicable act 24 years later.  The intervening years were washed away like sand castles and the events were connected as if one immediately followed the other in a Rip Van Winkle sort of happening — Amy killed her only sibling, nothing happened to her, she went to sleep, and woke up at a faculty meeting where she murdered her co-workers.

That she graduated from Northeastern University and earned a PH.D. in genetics from Harvard, was an instructor in medicine at Harvard, was an inventor of medical products, a writer, worked not only as a professor at UA, Huntsville but in a biosystems company, got married, had four children and interacted with thousands upon thousands of people during the interim was all forgotten.    Also forgotten were a 1993 letter bomb incident in which she was suspect and a 2002 charge of assault and disorderly conduct in Peabody.

I was the deputy DA in the Norfolk DA’s office at the time she killed her brother.  I never heard of it at that time.  A little over six months later I spent a considerable amount of time at the Braintree police station working with their detectives and police officers because I was prosecuting the murder of a 22-year-old woman from Weymouth whose body was found in a shallow grave in East Braintree.   No one at the station ever mentioned it.  The first time I heard of Amy Fisher was in 2010, the time the rest of you did.

We had established what we believed to be a fool-proof system with respect to all homicides.  The first assistant worked hand-in-hand with the state police to insure all homicides were reported to him.  DA Delahunt had a hand in seeing that legislation was enacted giving the state police jurisdiction over homicides.  Every town in our county would report homicides to the state police who would immediately respond to them.  The state trooper who responded would immediately notify us if an assistant district attorney was needed at the scene.  We had on the staff about eight or nine Superior Court ADAs who were not only anxious to try murder cases but were skilled at doing it.  Our system worked as it should.

A report was filed by our top homicide investigator a month or so after the incident.  It was unequivocal in its conclusion that the homicide had been accidental.   It contained nothing about Amy’s fleeing from the house and pointing a shotgun at others.  It indicated it went to the lieutenant in charge of the state police and to the first assistant who has no memory of receiving it.  Be that it may, I suggest even if he had seen the report he would have accepted it.  There was no reason for us to second guess this trooper who had been the lead investigator in all the high-profile murder cases in our office.  I understand the trooper still stands by his report that the shooting was accidental.

None of that mattered in the rush to blame afterwards.  26 years later infused with the knowledge that Amy murdered three people the crowd looked back with that mind-set and threw blame around like confetti at a wedding.  No one looked at the situation as it presented itself to the Braintree police at the time — a family tragedy of one sibling killing the only other and the one witness to it, the mother of the children, proclaiming it was an accidental shooting.  The shooter, her daughter, a highly accomplished student at Northeastern University where her father was a professor. The after events the result of a panicked reaction by one horrified by she had done.

Assuming that some charges were brought against Amy then the realistic likelihood of Amy being incarcerated back then was remote since she was a 21-year-old student with no record.  She most likely would have received probation and some mandatory psychiatric treatment which may or may not have helped her.  Assuming the worst that there was some type of incarceration based on the unlikely filing of a manslaughter charge it would have been for a minimal amount of time,  Imagine the unimaginable which never would have happened, she was convicted of second degree murder, she still would have been back in society long before 2010.  She may then not have been able to kill her co-workers at the university but she’d have been able to murder some other co-workers.

Amy Bishop was a walking time bomb.  She could have exploded at any time.  Placing blame for the Alabama murders on the actions of the Braintree police, state police or DA’s office in 1986 which ignores the intervening 24 years is like blaming Gavrilo Princip’s 1914 shooting of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Duchess Sophie in Sarajevo for World War II which started in 1939.

Alabama was wise in accepting Amy’s plea.  This gives the victims’ families closure.  None wanted to have a trial to repeat the horrors of that day.   That contrasts with some of the families of the victims of Whitey Bulger who opine they would not be satisfied with anything less than a trial.

No good public purpose would be served with bringing Amy back to Norfolk County to answer to the charges here.  The victim’s family, his mother and father, have lost a son and now a daughter.  They have suffered enough.   I hope the Norfolk DA agrees with me.






  1. Thanks for the response.

  2. That’s corporal Hitler, of course, and not colonel.

    • I can not believe that I wrote colonel. Thanks!

      • Not as good a Freudian slip as your referring to Amy Bishop as “Amy Fisher”. (Although Joey Buttafuoco would have fit right in to the Boston Mob.)

        • Thanks for picking that up. I’ll have to go back and change it. Henry Barth usually picks up my mistakes. I don’t know why Amy Fisher stuck in my mind — it’s really puzzling to me. I had to go back and read bout her. Joey Buttafuoco would have fit well in the Winter Hill gang or even the Cheeseman’s group. Thanks for commenting.

  3. You defend everyones action in the Bishop case, I realize you worked there but someone dropped the ball, accidentlly or intentionally is the question.

    The trooper determined the shooting was accidental and didn’t file a report for a month which the ADA has no memory of ever receiving ?

    The trooper alone made the decision, no one from the DA’s office was involved or consulted?

    No one interviewed the Braintree cops involved in the incident for years ?

    Bishop was arrested then released by the Braintree Chief but no one asks why ?

    The Braintree Police arrest Bishop, assumedly with some type of Probable Cause but the state police then say it was an accident ?

    Even if it was accidental why were no charges ever brought ?

    Theres a serious problem with this entire case but as usual in Massachusetts no one wants to know the truth because the cover up is usually worse then the crime.

    If Bishop had been prosecuted and convicted maybe she could have gotten the help she needed, maybe the future murders wouldn’t have happened, maybe we’ll never know now because she was allowed to get away with murder in Massachusetts.

    She’s not the first nor will she be the last. If you have the right connections here you can be above the law.

    • Thanks for writing. Let me try to answer your questions. I don’t defend everyone’s actions as much as I suggest that no matter what was done it would not have stopped Amy Bishop from blowing up at some future date so what difference did it make to the Alabama situation if some people messed up in the beginning.
      The trooper who was called by the Braintree police didn’t go to the scene as he was supposed to. He did not show up until much later. He’s to blame for doing that which was against our procedure and something we did not know anything about. His report did not indicate that. Had he done his job it might have been a totally different case.
      The DA’s office only gets involved when the trooper who was supposed to be at the scene right away would notify the first assistant that a crime had been committed. An accidental shooting will not result in any charges. Accidents are not crimes.
      The trooper and the Braintree police agreed it was an accident. Amy was not arrested for the murder but for pointing a shotgun at a gas station attendant and a police officer. Braintree did not notify anyone of these things that happened after the killing. They may or may not have made a difference to the trooper’s actions. He did not notify us in his report of the happenings after the shooting.
      The incident exploded when the Braintree chief got a call from Alabama asking what happened back in 1986. He ran for cover and started to blame the chief who was around at that time, Polio. He said everyone was upset about it. I pointed out that about six months later I spent a lot of time at the station working on another murder and my experience tells me if cops were upset I would have heard about it. Even before that we worked on a daily basis with the Braintree cops and heard nothing about it. Any detective or police officer could have dropped a dime on it with our office if he felt something was wrong.
      There was no cover up. Decisions were made that in retrospect were wrong but they weren’t hidden. As I said in my post, we can answer what Amy would have done had she gotten some help back then. If the feds pursued the letter bomb case they could have locked her up; if Alabama didn’t give her a job she couldn’t have killed the Alabama professors. Our system that we thought was fail proof could have been improved by having the ADA also required to go to the scene. Even he or she might have felt it was an accident. We just don’t know.
      It doesn’t help us speculating on what else could happen because something else could always have been done. You can always find someone to suggest something else in retrospect – Brady should have thrown to the tight end rather than the wide out.
      I don’t see where connections came into the case. I knew some people said the victim’s and Amy’s mother knew the chief. No one else knew them that I know of. If everyone had done their job as they were supposed to the end result may still have been the same. Thanks for asking. I hope I answered you.

  4. If they really want to make the families happy, why don’t they pay the civil judgements that they owe and stop wasting money on this dog and pony show!

    • I couldn’t agree more. Along with that, the money that Whitey’s lawyers will receive will go a long way to beginning to compensate some of the victims’s families. Look at all the people Martorano killed who left little children. How is he and Howard can pocket money from those killings. They could cut to the chase by announcing they will only try one murder – one that is open and shut – like one of the young women and defer on the others. They could send him to LA on the gun charges and lock him up forever. I really can’t figure out why they want to push all this against an 83 year old guy who will never get out of prison. Is it the publicity? I know the FBI doesn’t want it to continue. Maybe I’ll figure it out.

  5. Bishop is where she belongs, behind bars for life. Yet she killed three or four while Martorano, Winter, Nee , Weeks and the remnants of the Winter Hill gang,who killed fifty, walk the streets.2. Why not apply the time honored technique of placing a case ” ON FILE” to Whitey. The SJC said you could take the matter up again years later if required. Terminate the present circus at the Moakley Courthouse, ship him out to L.A. for the gun charges and save the taxpayers millions.3. You can’t blame the D.A., the Braintree Police and the State Police for what they didn’t know re: Bishop. But Connolly can be blamed for things he didn’t know? 4. Some historians say the condition precedent fo WW2 was the First World War. It destabilized the entire continent and brought about a punitive peace. Lady Astor was asked “Where was Hitler born” She answered at Versaille. WW 1 made Stalin. Hitler and Mussolini possible.

    • 4. Do you suggest Princip anticipated the Versaille Treaty? Or knew Colonel Hitler would be wounded and that war? Or that Princip was really the cause of WWI? I think I learned somewhere of the doctrine of effective intervening cause. 3. Connolly knew he was sending the letter to Judge Wolf, telling Flemmi to lie and lying to an FBI agent. He knew, or should have known, Whitey and Stevie were killing people – everyone else in the FBI seemed to know. 2. I don’t think the put cases on file in the federal system. I agree that it would be easier to have put him away in LA forever. Why they want the Boston Circus is to please the victims’ families, I guess. Your guess here is as good as mine. When the cost of trying Whitey in Boston comes out the people are going to really feel ripped off if Carney is putting as many people and hours into the case as he says he is.