"Grief is like the Ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim. "
It was the 27th of June 2000. Sixteen year old Molly Bish lived in Warren, Massachusetts, United States with her parents, John and Magi, and her sister Heather and brother John. John was a probation officer and Magi was a teacher. Molly loved children and hoped to have a career which involved working with children when she finished school. That Summer, she took a job as a lifeguard in the area and part of the job involved looking after the children's swimming lessons and she was looking forward to spending the whole Summer working at the Comins Pond.
Molly knew exactly what was required of her when she took the job as her brother John had previously worked as a lifeguard at the Comins Pond for three years. Molly knew she would love working as a lifeguard.
That day, the 27th of June, started off with some bad news for Molly. One of her friends had been hit by a car and was in critical condition. Molly was determined to still go to work though. She had just started and was worried about the children learning how to swim. Magi drove Molly to work that morning. On the way, they stopped to pick up two bottles of water at a convenience store. Surveillance footage placed them at the store at 9.50 am. After they bought the water, they went to the police station to get a two-way radio. Lifeguards were required to get one from the police station. The radio was the only way lifeguards could contact police outside of the area. There were no telephones at the Comins Pond.
Magi and Molly arrived at Comins Pond a few minutes later. It was around 10 am. Magi dropped Molly off and left.
One of the first parents to arrive that morning at the Comins Pond was a woman called Sandra Woolworth. She immediately noticed there was not lifeguard present. The first aid kit was beside the chair and it was open and Molly's towel was draped across the back of the chair. Molly's backpack was on the beach and her sandals were beside the chair. The water Molly had bought with Magi that morning was there too but there was just no sign of Molly anywhere.
Sandra presumed Molly may have gone somewhere for a few minutes and one of the mothers took on the lifeguard role while the swimming lessons got underway. When the lessons ended, the parents told Molly's boss, Ed Fett, that Molly was not there.
It was around 11.44am when Ed reported her missing to the police. He used the two way radio to do so. The police were not too concerned at that point as given Molly was just sixteen, they thought she may have met up with some friends for the day. But by 1pm, there was still no sign of her so the police notified Molly's parents. Molly's parents were immediately concerned as they knew she would not have just left her lifeguard job without telling anyone or getting cover and she would not have left her belongings behind.
Magi and Heather checked to see if Molly had visited her friend who had been involved in the car accident at the hospital. They knew she was worried about her but she wasn't there at all that day. Heather spoke with Molly's boyfriend but he hadn’t heard from her either.
Magi told police that Molly would not have left in the middle of a shift. She took her job seriously and Magi had just dropped her off that morning. She also stressed that all of Molly's belongings were still there including her sandals.
A search was conducted that afternoon around the Comins Pond area. The pond itself was searched extensively in case Molly had gotten into difficulty in the water but divers and boats involved in the search found nothing. It wasn't until the next morning that a more widespread search of the area took place involving search teams and helicopters.
Magi told police that she recalled something that had made her feel uneasy at the time. The day before Molly went missing, Magi remembered seeing a white car in the parking lot when she dropped Molly off for work. There was a man in the car looking at Molly. He was smoking. She didn't feel comfortable at the time so she waited until the man left before she left Molly. A sketch of the man was created.
Magi wasn't the only one who had been concerned about that man. The police received several reports from other people who reported a man in a white sedan. He made them feel uneasy too.
Aside from the sketch, there was little else to go on and the case went cold for three years. When a new detective got involved in the case, the case was looked at again in more detail almost three years after Molly first disappeared. A man named Ricky Beaudreau had mentioned that he had been hunting on Whiskey Hill. Whiskey Hill was just five miles from Comins Pond. He recalled seeing a torn blue bathing suit there. He returned with the investigator and it was still there. The day that Molly went missing, she was wearing a blue bathing suit. A DNA lab later confirmed that the material belonged to the bathing suit Molly was wearing.
A search of the area began. Just one week later, they found a human arm bone. On the 9th of June 2003,more bones were discovered. After testing, the bones were confirmed to be those of Molly Bish. However, the search brought up no evidence that would point investigators to what happened to Molly and who had killed her.
In the years that followed, there were a number of different leads looked at. Police also looked at the possibility that Molly's murder was connected to the murder of Holly Piirainen. When Molly was just ten years old, Heather went missing. Heather was also ten years old and Molly wrote a letter to Heather's family to express how sorry she was. There were similarities in the circumstances surrounding the two cases. Both girls were blonde and blue eyed. They went missing in close proximity to each other. Despite some similarities, police have been unable to clearly link both cases.
In 2008, a person of interest was named in the case, a man called Rodney Stanger. Rodney was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. Rodney had lived in the Warren area for years. Rodney and his brother Randy were hunters and were known to hunt in the area where Molly's remains were discovered.They also fished in Comins Pond around the time of Molly's disappearance and drove a white sedan. Both of them left the area shortly after Molly's disappearance. Rodney Stanger is currently serving a twenty five year sentence for the murder of his girlfriend. He has not been charged in relation to Molly's case.
In 2011, police spoke with another man in relation to Molly's case. His name was Gerald Battistoni. Gerald was in prison on separate rape charges and died in 2014. He was never charged in relation to Molly's case.
Molly Bish’s case is still an open case.
Molly's family continued to search for answers in relation to Molly's case in the years after her disappearance and also helped others. In 2004, John and Magi Bish collaborated with Anna Maria College to create the Molly Bish Center for the Protection of Children and the Elderly. It was set up in memory of their daughter. John said:
“Magi and I can’t change what happened to Molly, but we can try to stop it from happening again.”
The Center was "established to strengthen prevention, increase awareness, and expand participation, at all levels of the community, and to enhance response capacity to meet a broad range of needs for children and the elderly."
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