The revelations about the past of the biology professor accused of shooting three colleagues to death at the University of Alabama Friday are stacking up by the day.
First came the news that the professor, Amy Bishop, shot and killed her teenage brother in suburban Boston under hazy circumstances in 1986. Then that she was investigated in 1993 in an attempted mail bombing of a Harvard professor who was evaluating her work as a postdoc.
While much is still not known in the case, all the facts seem to be pointing to one question: how did a person with such a troubled past appear, from the outside, to have been carrying on a successful, normal life?
Here’s what we know right now:
Bishop has been charged with capital murder and three counts of attempted murder after the shooting Friday at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the Huntsville Times reports.
A faculty member told the New York Times that Bishop had sat quietly in a meeting with other professors for 30 to 40 minutes Friday afternoon before allegedly taking out a handgun and opening fire.
She is reported to have been vocal about the university’s decision to deny her tenure, but police have not said that was the motive for the alleged shooting. Bishop was also known for attracting over a million dollars in financing for a business she started to market a technique to more easily produce cell cultures.
The gun Bishop allegedly used was unregistered, according to the AP. Her husband, Paul Anderson, who dropped Bishop off at the meeting, told the Chronicle of Higher Education that he did not know she had a gun.
In 1986, Bishop, who is now in her mid-40s, shot and killed her 18-year-old brother with a shotgun in Braintree, Mass., according to the Boston Globe. She was released the day of the shooting by then-police chief John Polio, who maintained that the incident was an accident that occurred after Bishop asked her brother for help unloading a shotgun. State police investigated, but Bishop was not charged in the shooting.
After talking to retired Braintree officers, current chief Paul Frazier concluded that Bishop had in fact killed her brother after an argument, and was then apprehended by police after fleeing and pointing the gun at a car on the street, the Boston Herald reports.
In Frazier’s account, Bishop was released to her mother, at the time an official on the town’s Personnel Board, through the back door of the police department.
The case file from the 1986 shooting is missing, Frazier said at a press conference. He said he had been told by a retired officer it has been missing since 1988. Polio, the chief at the time, has denied there was any cover-up.
In 1993, Bishop and her husband were questioned by police after a Harvard Medical School professor whose lab Bishop worked in received a package containing two pipe bombs, the Globe reported today. The bombs did not go off when Dr. Paul Rosenberg opened the package at his Newton, MA, home.
A law enforcement official told the Globe that Bishop, then a postdoctoral fellow, was allegedly upset that Rosenberg was going to give her a negative evaluation. Her home was searched and she was interviewed. No charges were ever filed in the case.
Anderson, Bishop’s husband, told the Huntsville Times that he and his wife were among a dozen people who were “subjects” of the investigation. He says authorities ultimately sent them a letter saying they were cleared.
Some relatives of the victims are now asking how Bishop was hired at the University of Alabama, given the questions about her past, the AP reports.
Late Update: A former auto body worker now says Bishop pointed a gun at him while looking for a getaway car to flee from the scene of the shooting in 1986.