Cold Case Explorations

Researching Cold and Unsolved Cases from the US and Beyond

Who Murdered Molly Bish?

This case has remained unsolved for 23 years, 5 months, and 10 days.

On June 27, 2000, 16-year-old Molly was set to work her lifeguarding job at Comins Pond in Warren, MA. Her mother drove her to a nearby convenience store for some supplies, then Molly was dropped off at the pond around 10 AM. Shortly thereafter, she disappeared from her lifeguarding station.

Comins Pond in Warren, MA.
Comins Pond in Warren, MA (AP Photo).

The search for Molly wouldn’t stop until three years later when a local hunter stumbled upon her remains in a wooded area. Although her body was located, her killer has never been located, even after two decades have passed. Who murdered Molly Bish?

Table of Contents

About Molly Bish

Molly Bish was born on August 2, 1983 to parents Magi and John Bish. She was the youngest of three siblings and her parents moved from Detroit, MI to Warren, MA when Molly was very young to try and get away from the violence in their old neighborhood.

A school photograph of Molly Bish.

In 2000, Molly had just completed her junior year in high school in 2000. According to friends and family, she was a smart, well-liked girl. She also loved sports, playing soccer, basketball, and softball.

Moly’s summer job was lifeguarding at Comins Pond, a job that she’d only just started a week or so earlier when she vanished. No one could have known that taking that lifeguarding job sealed her unfortunate fate.

The Day of the Disappearance

Magi (Molly’s mother) often dropped her daughter off at her lifeguarding job at Comins Pond in Warren, MA. The pond is a recreational area where nearby residents can go swimming, fishing, or participate in other water sports. In 2000, Molly had taken over the lifeguard task from her older brother and was just over a week into her new job.

June 27, 2000 was like any other day that Molly was dropped off — at least, to start. Molly and her mother, Magi, stopped at a convenience store around 9:50 AM so Molly could grab some items for her lifeguarding shift. The stop only took a few minutes.

The last known footage of Molly Bish at the convenience store.
The last known footage of Molly Bish at the convenience store (WCVB5).

After stopping at the convenience store, they stopped at the Warren Police Department to pick up Molly’s radio that was used when she lifeguarded. Then, Molly was dropped off at Comins Pond at 9:58 AM. Reportedly, there was a sand truck nearby with some workers unloading sand for the beach.

That was the last time Molly’s mother saw her and shortly thereafter, Molly disappeared.

A short time after Molly had arrived, some people got to the pond with their children for swim lessons. They noticed that there was no lifeguard on duty and found that odd.

The parents reported the missing lifeguard to the Parks Commissioner, and he then contacted police at 11:44 AM to inform them Molly was missing. It’s not clear why there was such a large gap in time between people noticing Molly being gone and authorities being contacted.

Several Hours Later

Several hours after dropping Molly off, Magi received a phone call from police stating that the lifeguard station was empty and that Molly was missing. Notably however, Molly’s belongings were still there on the beach, left out where she’d placed them earlier. The chair she’d set up to sit in was left untouched, as were her shoes on the beach.

The chair that Molly had set up was left untouched by Comins Pond.
The chair that Molly had set up was left untouched by Comins Pond (WCVB5).

The Search Begins

In doing my research, it’s not entirely clear what authorities thought of the scene to start with. Some sources claim that they immediately began searching for Molly while others, including Molly’s family, suggest that there have been mistakes made by police.

Molly’s older sister, Heather Bish, has stated:

“This has been a long journey. There’s been a lot of errors in Molly’s case. The crime scene wasn’t preserved. Our local police did not know how to look for a missing person. There was some tunnel vision with Molly’s boyfriend initially. There have been lost samples in the past.”

Heather Bish (Source: NBC Boston)

Because it wasn’t immediately clear that a crime had taken place, the crime scene was trampled over and walked on by many different people, obfuscating any clues that might’ve otherwise been located.

Warren Police Chief Ronald Syriac stated of the scene, “Molly’s chair, her lunch bag, her first aid kit and the 2-way police radio was right there, intact, undisturbed. So we have no clues whatsoever.” The crime scene did not show evidence of a struggle.

A missing persons poster for Molly Bish.
A missing persons poster for Molly Bish (Boston Herald).

Molly Ran Off

Authorities initially thought that Molly had gone off with her friends, according to some sources. However, Molly’s family was quick to state that Molly was very responsible and she wouldn’t have left her job post as a lifeguard without telling anyone.

In reaching out to Molly’s friends, no one had seen her or heard from her that morning. It soon became clear that this wasn’t just a case of an irresponsible teenager ditching her job.

A memorial set up for Molly Bish.
A memorial set up for Molly Bish (Molly Bish Foundation).

Had Molly Drowned?

According to a recent interview with the Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early, Jr., authorities originally thought that Molly had drowned:

“Everyone thought Molly had drowned. There wasn’t any police tape put up for a while, so a lot of things that normally, when you get to a homicide scene, you would protect weren’t protected.”

Joseph Early, Jr. (Source: WCVB5)

Massachusetts state police were called in by the afternoon to help in the search for Molly. The pond was combed by divers and boats, but no sign of her was found. Her parents did not think that Molly had drowned. The fact that Molly was working as a lifeguard also makes the idea that she drowned very unlikely; she had to be a strong swimmer.

A Mustached Man

Magi recalled seeing a mustached man sitting a white sedan and smoking a cigarette the day before Molly’s disappearance. He seemed to have been watching Molly that day. On the day of the disappearance however, Magi did not see the van.

A police sketch artist’s depiction of what the mustached man might’ve looked like.
A police sketch artist’s depiction of what the mustached man might’ve looked like.

It’s thought that this man was parked on the other side of the pond near a cemetery on the day that Molly went missing, as a nearby worker claimed to have seen the white sedan. It’s not clear if this man was ever identified or questioned.

Years Later, Molly Found

For months and then years, nothing was found that gave authorities any indication of where Molly might’ve been. Searches and interviews resulted in little to no information, despite law enforcement getting hundreds of new tips.

May 2003: A Hunter’s Discovery

It was mid-May 2003 when a hunter found something odd on one of his hunting excursions: a bathing suit in the woods. The area was about five miles away from Comins Pond. He reported the discovery to authorities who then began searching the area.

When law enforcement started their grid search, they weren’t sure what they were going to find. Quickly after they started though, an arm bone was found, then a thigh bone and a rib bone. Dental and DNA testing soon confirmed that the remains were those of Molly Bish.

A newspaper article about how and where Molly Bish’s body was found.
A newspaper article about how and where Molly Bish’s body was found (Boston Globe).

No Signs of Trauma on Skeleton

Molly’s remains were examined, but there wasn’t a clear cause of death. There were no bullet wounds or signs of blunt force trauma on her skeleton. This possibly means that she was asphyxiated or smothered, although we’ll never know for sure because her remains were found several years after her abduction.

Some DNA was recovered from Molly’s body, enough to use for future DNA testing when comparing suspect DNA. It’s not clear what sort of DNA was left at the scene.

Few Suspects

One suspect in this case is convicted child rapist Gerald Battistoni. He was looked at closely by authorities in relation to Molly’s murder. Notably, according to Battistoni’s wife at the time of Molly’s disappearance, Battistoni was taking their white Chevy car for a drive in the Warren area the day that Molly disappeared. (Remember that Molly’s mother had reported seeing a white sedan with a man in it on the day before Molly’s disappearance.)

When Battistoni heard that he was a person of interest in Molly’s case and the case of another missing and murdered girl, Holly Piirainen, he attempted suicide in prison. DNA from Holly’s body was eventually tied to another suspect.

Battistoni died in November 2014 while in custody without revealing any information about Molly’s murder. It’s not clear if his DNA was ever compared to the suspect’s DNA that was found in Molly’s case.

Fewer Answers

Over two decades later, there are no answers for Molly’s family, and no justice for Molly. A recent statement by Molly’s parents includes:

“To our family and friends, we are forever grateful for your love and strength supporting us over the past 21 years. Our hearts are heavy with our loss and the reality of what may have happened to our daughter, but we are hopeful that there will be resolution and that no one else will ever be harmed.”

Statement by the Bish Family (Source: WCVB5)

Theories on What Happened

Unlike most of the cases I cover, we don’t have to delve too deeply into theories in this case because we already know what happened: Molly was abducted and murdered by someone on that warm June day in 2000. The question that needs to be answered is who committed this crime?

Over the years, authorities have explored many suspects, but none have matched the DNA found with Molly’s remains. I believe the key to solving this case is finding a DNA match and, until this happens, no amount of speculation or circumstantial evidence will garner a conviction in the abduction and murder of Molly Bish.

What Do I Think Happened?

This case is a tough one to figure out because it’s been so long without any resolution. Advances in DNA technology could ultimately solve this case, although the suspect will have lived out most of his life already.

It’s also possible that whoever committed this crime is already in jail or prison for other crimes committed. We just don’t know and we won’t know until authorities find a DNA match to the evidence left with Molly’s remains.

The Police Radio

The fact that Molly had a two-way police radio on her for her lifeguard job leads me to believe that someone lured her away from it. If they had tried to attack her close to the radio, I don’t doubt that Molly would have used it to call for help. If the perpetrator could lure her away from the radio though, then it’s possible he grabbed her and was able to drag her off before she could grab it.

A Man in a White Sedan

If the information about the man in the white sedan is correct, then it seems like that man might’ve been stalking Molly for at least a few days, watching her routine and studying the scene. As rare as stranger abductions are, they do happen.

This suspect could’ve worked out that the best time to lure Molly away was right after she was dropped off, when there would be few witnesses and no one around to hear her cries for help. He could’ve planned this carefully, picking just the right time to grab her and force her into his car.

A memorial piece for Molly Bish.
A memorial piece for Molly Bish (Molly Bish Foundation).

Finding out who that man was in the white sedan was authorities’ best bet at solving this case. Now, with it being decades later and so few case updates, I fear that we may never know that man’s identity.

Case Outlook

I have some questions about why it took so long for Molly’s absence to be reported to authorities. If Molly disappeared shortly after 10 AM, why did it take until 11:44 AM to report her missing? I’m sure the workers unloading sand were questioned, so what did they see and hear? So many years later, it’s hard to be optimistic about the prospects of this case getting solved.

That being said, I’m hopeful that continued advancements in DNA technology will eventually lead to a resolution and justice for Molly and her family. In the meantime, unless someone comes forward with new information, this case will continue to be cold.

Case Updates

Unfortunately for Molly’s case, updates have been few and far between. There have been many TV programs that have discussed the case including America’s Most Wanted, Unsolved Mysteries, Disappeared, 48 Hours, and On the Case with Paula Zahn. Despite all the publicity, there are few answers.

2004: Molly Bish Center for the Protection of Children and the Elderly

in 2004, Molly’s parents, John and Magi, established the Molly Bish Center for the Protection of Children and the Elderly in collaboration with Anna Maria College. Its aim is to “promote the safety and protection of two of the most vulnerable groups in our society: children and the elderly.”

June 2022: Breakthrough in the Case?

In June 2022, the District Attorney for the Worcester District announced that they were investigating a suspect in connection with Molly Bish’s murder. At the time, information from an informant had led them to a convicted rapist and kidnapper who’d died in 2016.

However, upon comparing DNA from the suspect’s son, it turned out that the DNA wasn’t a match; the suspect couldn’t have left the DNA that was found on Molly’s body.

2022 and Beyond: Still Searching for Tips

Heather Bish, Molly’s older sister, has taken to using Tik Tok to show items of Molly’s, hoping to garner some leads even several decades later. All it could take is one clue or one tip to finally get justice for Molly. Heather has said of her sister’s absence:

“Every single year my sister’s not there, I’m shopping and I see things I think she would like or I wonder if Molly would like this now or if she’d be into the same hobbies that I have or music that I’m into.”

Heather Bish (Source: MassLive).
Some still images from Heather Bish’s TikTok showing items and photographs of her younger sister.
Some still images from Heather Bish’s TikTok showing items and photographs of her younger sister (TikTok).

Do You Have Information?

Molly was last seen at her lifeguarding station near Comins Pond on June 27, 2000. Anyone with additional information should call the Molly Bish Tip Line at (508) 453–7575 or the Warren Police Department at (413) 436–9595.

An informational poster for Molly Bish.
An informational poster for Molly Bish (Facebook).

Cold Case Questions

  • What do you think happened to Molly Bish?
  • Do you think the man in the police sketch is responsible for Molly’s death?
  • Will this case ever be solved?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Thanks for Reading!

I greatly appreciate your support and engagement. If you enjoyed this post, consider liking and subscribing for more cold or unsolved case content. Be sure to follow me on social media to get notified when I post new stories, videos, or podcasts:

Do you have a cold or unsolved case suggestion? Reach out to me by clicking here. Want to read about other cold and unsolved cases in Massachusetts? Click here to see the full list.

Thank you so much, Cold Case Explorers!

Leave a Reply