DNA test reveals connection between North Carolina woman and accused killer wanted by FBI
CAROLINA SHORES, N.C. (WECT/Gray News) - Kathy Gillcrist always knew she was adopted, but she had no idea just how different her life would’ve been if her birth mother hadn’t made the decision to give her up after she was born.
“I had the option to check a little box that says I was an adopted child and I would be interested in finding siblings or other relatives,” said Gillcrist, describing the 23andMe DNA test she took in 2017.
The DNA test brought back a first match: her third cousin Susan Gillmor, a successful genealogist in Maine.
“We were amazed that we were a lot alike,” said Gillmor. “We both were English majors; we were both teachers.”
Since unlocking the secrets to ancestry is Gillmor’s profession, she decided to help Gillcrist get more answers. The hardest part by far was finding her father.
“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.,” said Gillmor.
That was exactly the problem. The U.S. government has been trying to track down William Bradford Bishop since the 1970s. He’s accused of brutally murdering his wife and three children. After the murder, the killer drove 300 miles to Columbia, North Carolina.
“[He] dug a hole, a shallow grave and laid the bodies in that shallow grave and then proceeded to set them on fire,” said case agent Charles Adam.
In 2014, he was named to the FBI’s most wanted list.
“[Gillmor] said ‘OK, I found your father. All I’m going to do is give you his name,’” said Gillcrist, recalling the day she found out. “I said, ‘Is it someone famous?’ She said, ‘um, yeah.’ I just laughed. We have a great sense of humor in my adoptive family and I thought ‘of course, my father’s a murderer!’”
As for if Gillcrist’s biological mother knew of her father’s dark past, she isn’t sure. She’s just glad she didn’t find out until she was older and believes her mother would be happy with the extended family that she has found.
Along with the discovery of her birth parents, Gillcrist also found that she has over a dozen family members in Massachusetts, several of them being half-siblings on her mother’s side.
“I think she’s smiling that we all accepted each other.”
Kathy was raised by her quiet and reserved adoptive parents who nurtured her into becoming a teacher and a generally happy person — but she says nature is what’s to blame for her driven personality, something she credits her birth father for passing along.
As for her father, Bishop would be in his 80s today. There have been claims of him being spotted in Europe. Gillcrist says she believes he’s still alive and on the run.
Gillcrist documented her journey to finding her family in a memoir: “It’s in my Genes,” available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.
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