Molly Bish Case:
Convicted Killer Rodney Stanger's Wallet Sheds Light On Dead Girl's Case
New evidence in the case of a 16-year-old girl killed 12 years ago has police focusing on a convicted killer.
Molly Bish was abducted in June, 2000 from Comins Pond in Warren, Mass. No one has ever been charged in her death.
But MyFox Boston reports that police have new evidence, including a wallet believed to belong to Rodney Stanger, who was convicted in 2008 of killing his longtime girlfriend, Chrystal Morrison. Stanger was already a person of interest in the case.
The wallet was recovered by Morrison's sister, Bonnie Kiernan, who went to the Stanger and Morrison's home in Summerfield, Florida., to retrieve some of her sibling's belongings.
The wallet contains Stanger's Massachusetts Firearms Identification Card, which was renewed on (April 17), 2000, just two months before Bish's disappearance.(4-17)
The F.I.D. card has a picture of Stanger that "bears a striking resemblance to the mystery man Molly's mother, Magi Bish, saw at Comins Pond the day before the abduction," MyFox Boston reports.
Kiernan told the News Telegram she's sure the sketch matches the picture.
“He looks just like the sketch,” Kiernan said. “It's him. I have no doubt it's him.”
Molly's sister said she hopes authorities will take a close look at the newly revealed evidence.
“I'm hopeful the state police will follow up with this,” Heather Bish said. “We appreciate the people that come forward because it gives us a reason to push the investigation.”
MyFox Boston reports that Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early told reporters he might send Massachusetts State Police investigators back to Florida in an attempt to re-interview Stanger.
Just last month, family and friends of Molly held a vigil to mark the 12th anniversary of her death, according to the Republican.
Family members remain hopeful that Molly's killer will be found and prosecuted.
"We have to keep hoping and we have to keep persevering and we have to keep Molly's memory alive," Heather Bish told the Republic.
Florida Killer Linked To Death Of Mass. Teen Girl
DOUGLAS, Massachusetts — Massachusetts authorities investigating the unsolved disappearance and death of a teenage lifeguard 12 years ago say they plan to examine items found in the Florida home of a convicted killer who once lived near the girl.
The items were discovered in the trailer near Ocala where Rodney Stanger once lived with his longtime girlfriend, Chrystal Morrison.
Stanger pleaded guilty in October 2010 to fatally stabbing Morrison in 2008 and is serving a 25-year prison sentence.
Morrison's sister, Bonnie Kiernan of Douglas, found the items when she went to Florida to collect her sister's belongings.
Kiernan told The Telegram & Gazette they include barrettes, hair bands, and other personal effects associated with girls and not with a woman her sister's age, who was 50 when she was killed.
"They're kids' things," she said. "They had no kids. There were no kids there."
The items also include a Massachusetts gun license with a photo of Stanger that bears a remarkable likeness to a sketch of a man seen hanging around Comins Pond in Warren in June 2000 just before 16-year-old Molly Bish disappeared.
Molly's remains were found three years later in the neighboring town of Palmer. The sketch was based on a description from Molly's mother, Magi Bish.
"We follow up on every lead," said Paul Jarvey, a spokesman for the district attorney. He did not offer any sort of timeline for when police would look at the items found by Kiernan.
Massachusetts State Police have traveled to Florida at least once and Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. has confirmed that Stanger is one of several men being investigated by his office.
Stanger lived in nearby Southbridge before moving to Florida shortly after Molly's disappearance and his birth certificate indicates he was born in Warren. Neighbors say he was familiar with the woods around the small central Massachusetts town.
The news was welcomed by Molly's family. "I'm hopeful the state police will follow up with this," said Heather Bish, Molly's sister. "We appreciate the people that come forward because it gives us a reason to push the investigation."
Woman Believes Sister’s Killer Is Involved In Bish, Piirainen Cases
DOUGLAS (CBS) – Bonnie Kiernan is convinced her sister’s killer, Rodney Stanger, is involved in the disappearances of Molly Bish and Holly Piirainen.
Investigators are looking into whether some of the personal items found in the Florida home of Stanger are related to the Massachusetts cases.
Stanger is now jailed in Florida after the brutal murder of his longtime girlfriend, Crystal Morrison, Kiernan’s sister. (Note: If Stanger is involved in Molly and Holly's cases, then he is a serial killer. On page one of my story I said I believed Molly's killer was a serial killer.)
Stanger was labeled a person of interest in the Bish case after investigators learned he lived, hunted and fished not far from the Warren pond where the 16-year-old lifeguard was abducted in 2000, and the Palmer woods where her skeleton was later found.
When Kiernan was recently going through her sister’s belongings in a trailer that Morrison and Stanger shared, she found things that led her to believe Stanger was involved in the Massachusetts cases.
“There were an awful lot of hair-ties, scrunchies, and barrettes that wouldn’t fit my sister’s age,” says Kiernan. “At 50-years-old you’re not going to be wearing a 12-year-old’s barrette.”
Kiernan also found a wallet with a Firearms ID card renewed just before the Bish murder. It features a Stanger photo with a striking resemblance to the sketch of a mystery man who was seen near where Bish was abducted.
Kiernan also says she received a cryptic message from her sister right before her violent death which indicated Stanger may have been involved in the disappearance of Bish and Piirainen. She says Crystal asked her about her bird named Molly and then whispered the word “murders” into the phone.
Massachusetts State Police took many of the items to the state crime lab for testing.
Justice for Molly:
Is Killer Already in Jail?
The family of a 16-year-old lifeguard who was abducted and killed in 2000 believes an accused murderer sitting in a Florida jail may be the man relatives have been seeking for nearly nine years in connection with the girl's mysterious death.
Molly Bish's disappearance sparked the largest and most expensive manhunt in Massachusetts history, according to state prosecutors, and terrified parents nationwide. To this day, investigators told ABCNews.com, tips about the murder come in almost daily.
The latest tip led Massachusetts investigators to Florida to interview Rodney Stanger, 60, in connection with the Bish murder, according to Tim Connolly, a spokesman for the Worcester, Mass., County District Attorney's Office.
Bish was an active athlete who disappeared from her lifeguard post at Comins Pond in Warren, Mass., the morning of June 26, 2000. Her remains were found nearby three years later.
Both the Bish family and Stanger's former wife have said Stanger bears a striking resemblance to the composite sketches of a possible suspect drawn up after Bish's disappearance.
"It's hard to avoid looking at him as a viable person of interest," said Tom Shamshak, a private investigator who has worked with the Bish family for years.
Stanger, who was accused last year of butchering his live-in girlfriend in their Summerfield, Fla., home, has not made any statements regarding the Bish case, according to the Marion County, Fla., Sheriff's Office. Stanger has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.
In addition to the sketch evidence, the sister of the woman whom Stanger is accused of murdering told ABCNews.com she believes her sister was trying to tell her about Stanger's involvement in Bish's murder before she was killed.
Shamshak, who began looking into Stanger after a tip came in, said the connections are startling.
The composite sketch was created based on a description of a man Bish's mother, Magi Bish, reported seeing in a white Chrysler, smoking a cigarette, when she dropped her daughter off for work that morning. She has told reporters since then that she waited around until he left, uncomfortable with leaving her daughter there in his presence.
Shamshak said that while Stanger never owned such a car, ** his brother, who hasn't been seen since 2006, ** owned a 1985 white Chrysler matching Magi Bish's description. ( Note: Someone might want to check and see if his brother is still alive!)
Shamshak said Stanger's family told him he was also known to fish at Comins Pond and to hunt in the wooded area near where Bish's remains were found.
Her disappearance launched a massive statewide search that ended three years later when her skeleton and tattered bathing suit were found just a few miles away from the pond.
Though the discovery of the body brought some closure, Bish's family wants to find the killer. Her sister, Heather Bish, was 23 years old at the time of the murder and said the loss of the youngest Bish sibling left a gaping hole in the family.
"It's very difficult," Heather Bish said. "Not knowing, I think, is almost worse."
Stanger Not an Official Suspect
Connolly, the spokesman for the Worcester District Attorney's Office, said that while investigators had been down to Florida, Stanger has not been named a suspect and their investigation continues.
"We haven't called him anything," Connolly said, adding that his office still gets tips in the Bish case almost every day.
Connolly declined to say when his investigators visited Stanger in Florida, but Shamshak said he thought it was in November.
Stanger, who grew up in the Warren area, has been living in Summerfield since shortly after Bish's disappearance.
Marion County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jenifer Fisher said he's been jailed since Feb. 25, 2008, when police responded to a call from a child reporting that a man, later identified as Stanger, was choking his mother, a neighbor of Stanger's.
Inside his house, police found the body of 50-year-old Chrystal Morrison. She'd been stabbed "many, many times," Fisher said, and nearly decapitated.
In addition to the first degree murder charge in Morrison's death, Stanger was also charged with burglary and attempted murder in connection with the assault on the neighbor. He has pleaded not guilty.
Morrison's sister, Bonnie Kiernan, said she believed her sister had been trying to tell her that Stanger was responsible for the Bish murder in the days leading up to her slaying.
Kiernan told ABCNews.com that days before Morrison was killed the two sisters engaged in a series of strange, whispered phone conversations where Morrison would bring up the topic of murder and then repeatedly ask the name of Kiernan's bird -- "Molly."
Kiernan, who lives in Massachusetts and knew of the Bish case, said she called Massachusetts State Police the day after Morrison was murdered and was interviewed for several hours. She also contacted the Molly Bish Foundation, which is how Shamshak said he learned of the possible lead.
Ex-Wife 'Suspected He Was a Killer'
Deb Stanger, Rodney Stanger's ** second wife, also contacted Kiernan after hearing about Morrison's murder.
Deb and Rodney Stanger were married for four years in the late 1970s and early '80s. Deb Stanger told ABCNews.com that she fled to Minnesota shortly after the divorce.
"I always suspected he was a killer," she said. "But I never knew for sure."
Deb Stanger said seeing the Bish family's composite sketch of the possible suspect made her "90 percent" sure that her ex-husband was involved.
"My stomach just dropped," she said, adding that her former husband used to comb his hair back like the man in the sketch. "It looks just like him."
But William Miller, chief assistant public defender for the 5th Judicial Circuit in Marion County, represents Stanger and said his client's connection to the Bish case is purely speculative and "one of the most broadly circumstantial press junkets I've ever seen." (Note: Perhaps it's circumstantial, but there's something that Mr. Miller might want to remember - 'circumstances don't lie.' If his client was in the area; had access to the type and color vehicle that Mrs. Bish describbed; and looks like the description/composite drawing that Mrs. Bish gave authorities, then it's a pretty good guess that it is him. If it looks like a duck; quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, chances are - it's a damned duck! Circumstantial evidence - or - preponderance of evidence?)
Miller said Stanger, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Morrison murder, was declared mentally unfit for trial, but was deemed competent in the fall and has a "viable" defense.
Miller said he couldn't comment on any conversation's he'd had with Stanger regarding the Bish murder, but added that his client was innocent until proven otherwise -- of both the Massachusetts and Florida crimes.
"This is one of those circumstances when the press' take on it is taking a life of its own," he said.(2012 Note: Perhaps the 'press' should take a closer look at my work on the Heather Teague case. If they like to match composite drawings to actual photos, then here's a terrific opportunity for them. Maybe, if someone would pay some attention to the evidence we could see several 'unsolved' cases, solved!)
'Racked With Guilt'
Heather Bish said the family has gotten its hopes up and had them dashed over many leads in the past that didn't pan out. Stanger, she said, is the first lead where all the pieces "kept coming together."
The family is desperately seeking closure, she said, and the answer to its biggest question -- "Why?"
"I think we've all been racked with guilt," she said.
Heather Bish said the girls' father, John, a former police officer, has been worried his daughter's death was some kind of retribution from someone he'd arrested or encountered during his law enforcement career. And Magi Bish spent the last eight years thinking she saw her daughter's murderer and couldn't protect her.
Whether Bish's killer turns out to be Stanger or someone else, Heather Bish said they want that person to know that the Bish family will "always wage a campaign to find him."
Stanger recent photo / composite drawing / Stanger when Molly disappeared:
Dream/Fact Comparrison Chart:
Cherokee (when I wrote the dream, I did not own a Jeep Cherokee, but as of 2008 I have)
Plymouth / Chrysler
wallet / small 'bag' /
* married ( 2 times, divorced)
Bonnie M. Wells
Starlight Inner-Prizes.ComJune Story Selection Page
Molly Bish, page 1 // Molly Bish, page 2
Heather Teague Case
Posted: 7/19/2012 /// BMW