Amy Bishop: When One Sibling Kills Another

Suzanne Murray

shotgunLast month, Amy Bishop, a biology professor at the University of Alabama, went on a killing spree and shot three colleagues when she found out she didn't get tenure. As the media delved into Bishop's life to find out more about this Harvard-educated neuroscientist, they discovered that she had done all kinds of crazy thing in the past, including this humdinger: Bishop killed her brother.

More than twenty years ago, Bishop shot her teenage brother Seth to death in their Braintree, Massachusetts, kitchen. Their mother, Judith Bishop, was the only witness.

A little background from the Boston Globe: "According to the investigation report, after Amy and her father had a disagreement, he left for a shopping trip and she went to her room. Amy decided to go to her parents’ room to teach herself to load the shotgun the family had acquired the previous year for protection after a break-in. She succeeded but could not remove the shells, and the gun fired in the bedroom. Amy then went downstairs to ask for help unloading it and inadvertently shot her brother while her mother watched, according to the report."

Bishop and her mother both told police that it was an accident, but had different versions of what happened. The shooting was ruled as accidental and no charges were filed against Amy Bishop.

Bishop's current crimes have put her past in the spotlight and Massachusetts officials are now questioning whether or not there was a police cover-up of her brother's death all those years ago (some of the police records on the incident are missing). As a result, the district attorney has initiated a judicial inquest into Seth Bishop's death and the investigation.

According to her attorney, Judith Bishop will testify that the shooting was an accident and that Amy Bishop did not intentionally kill her brother.

For me, this incident isn't about cops, cover-ups, lawyers, or investigations. It's about a mom, Judith Bishop, who witnessed one of her two children kill another. The horror. I don't know what happened in that kitchen. Maybe it was truly an accident; maybe not. But as a mom, I can imagine how important it is to believe it's one at all costs.

You've just lost one child, you can't lose another. You'll do and say anything to save her.

You can't bear to think the unthinkable—that one of your children would intentionally kill the other. You go into complete denial or lie to yourself until you believe it's the truth. And maybe, twenty-three years later it is. The truth as you know it. The only truth that will allow you to wake up day after day without your son.

Ultimately it doesn't really matter what you tell yourself. The tragic truth is, whether intentionally or accidentally, one of your children killed the other.

How does a mom live with that?

Can you imagine what you would do in these circumstances? Would you turn your child in? Would you lie? Would you go into denial?

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