Massachusetts State Police have seized items from the Florida home of a “person of interest” in the 2000 murder of 16-year-old Molly Bish, who disappeared from a Massachusetts pond where she worked as a lifeguard.
Fox affiliate WFXT-TV reported Wednesday that investigators are reviewing possible evidence taken from the Summerfield, Fla., trailer home of 64-year-old Rodney Stanger, now imprisoned for another murder. The items include a film showing a blonde girl stripping then getting her neck snapped, according to MassLive.com, and a photo of Stanger that bears a striking resemblance to sketches of a suspicious man seen hanging around the Warren, Mass., pond where Bish worked.
“He looks just like the sketch. It’s him. I have no doubt it’s him.”- Bonnie Kiernan, murder victim’s sister
Stanger, who lived in nearby Southbridge at the time of Bish’s disappearance, is serving a 25-year prison term in Florida for the 2008 stabbing death of his live-in girlfriend, Chrystal Morrison.
Morrison’s sister, Bonnie Kiernan, recently traveled to the Florida trailer home where the couple lived to retrieve items belonging to Morrison, WFXT reported. While there, Kiernan found a wallet belonging to Stanger that was hidden inside a kitchen cabinet, according to the station. In it was a Massachusetts Firearms Identification Card, with a photo of Stanger that looks eerily similar to police sketches of a mystery man seen near Comins Pond the day before Bish vanished. The F.I.D. card was renewed just two months before Bish’s disappearance.
“He looks just like the sketch,” Kiernan told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “It’s him. I have no doubt it’s him.”
Kiernan also found girls’ hair accessories, keys to a previously unknown safety deposit box and Stanger’s birth certificate, which listed Warren, Mass., Bish’s hometown, as his birthplace.
After the largest search for a missing person in Massachusetts history, Bish’s remains were discovered in 2003 about five miles from her family’s home. The case was ruled a homicide but no cause of death could be determined.
Stanger was already a person of interest in the Bish case, partly because of a tip from Kiernan. After Morrison’s death in 2008, Kiernan told cops about a cryptic phone call from her sister, in which the doomed woman implied Stanger may have been involved in murders in Massachusetts, according to the Worcester newspaper. Morrison alluded to Bish and another girl, Holly Piirainen, who disappeared in 1993 in Sturbridge, a town adjacent to Southbridge. No one has ever been charged in the death of Piirainen, whose body was found two months after she disappeared by hunters in nearby Brimfield.
The Worcester district attorney is reportedly conducting DNA testing on the items from Stanger’s home as well as possible evidence from Comins Pond, like discarded cigarettes.
“We hope to get a break there,” Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. told WBZ-TV last month. “As we’ve said before, time can be your enemy right away, but as years pass, time becomes your friend. There is a variety of emotions involved with this as opposed to other homicides. This one is unique, unique for so many reasons.”