Molly Bish was a blond-haired, blue-eyed All American 16-year old, who was excited about her summer job as a lifeguard at Comins Pond in rural Warren, MA.
On June 26, 2000 when her mother was dropping her off to work around 8:45 am, a man caught her eye in the way creepy people sometimes do. She noted the car he was driving, and thought he seemed a little strange but didn’t seem to think any more about it…until the next day when Molly disappeared.
June 27th started out much the same way as every day since Molly started work, Molly’s mother, Magi, brought her to work and dropped her off around 9:45 am. This was just Molly’s 8th day of work. When families started to arrive, Molly was not at her post but her lunch and things were still there. She was never seen again alive. Police suspect that Molly was taken only minutes after being dropped off.
June 9, 2003…nearly 3 years later, Molly’s partial remains and bathing suit were found by a hunter in the woods of West Ware Rd in nearby Palmer, MA a few miles from the pond where she worked, in an area known as “Whiskey Hill”. Only 26 bones of the 206 have ever been found.
Several Suspects have been investigated but there seems to be the majority of focus on two suspects.
The first, suspect is a man named Rodney Stanger. Rodney lived in Southbridge, MA but moved to Florida shortly after Molly went missing. In 2008, he killed his girlfriend, Chrystal Morrison, by stabbing her to death. Rodney matches pretty closely to the depiction of the man that Magi and others saw hanging around the pond. At the time, he also drove a white car similar to the description given by Molly’s mother. Chrystal’s sister called police after finding evidence clearing out Chrystal’s trailer that may have shown Stanger’s involvement. All of these items have been handed over to police.
Here is a comparison of the pictures:
The second suspect is a man named Gerald Battisstoni. Battisstoni is a convicted child rapist from nearby Ware, MA. He was convicted of raping the child of a woman he dated for years over 100 times. He attempted suicide in prison by slitting his own throat with a broken light bulb after being linked to the Bish Case and later died in prison of natural causes . He also resembled the composite, though in a different sort of way. He was familiar with both the Comins Pond and Whiskey Hill areas.
Neither man, or any suspect, has ever been charged in this case. A white car was recovered in 2018 after a tip that it was buried locally. The police used ground penetrating radar and recovered the vehicle but the owner was somehow not identified.
The Bish family still hopes that DNA testing or other breakthroughs will solve this case now over 21 years later, supporting investigative initiatives such as law enforcement work with familial DNA. I pray the find the answers, the peace and the justice they deserve.
If you or anyone you know have any information that could solve this case, and bring this family peace, please call the Massachusetts State Police Tip Line at (508) 453-7575.
I remember this case well. I think it was the smiling photo that was released when Jeffrey Curley first went missing and the overwhelming feeling that it was not going to end well… but I am not sure anyone was prepared to the depths of depravity that this case dove into.
Jeffrey Curley was born June 9, 1987, a third son to Robert, a fireman in Cambridge and Barbara Curley. The lived in East Cambridge on the outskirts of Boston, MA. Jeffrey liked to play outdoor sports in the neighborhood; such as basketball, baseball, hockey. He enjoyed ice skating and riding his bike.
October 1st, 1997, Jeffrey was last seen by his mother going to his grandmother’s house to wash the dog. As planned, He made it to his Nana’s house. After she saw him, he said he needed “to do something and would be back in ten minutes”. That was the last time Jeffrey was seen alive.
Jeffrey was reportedly lured into the car by 2 men he knew from the neighborhood, who had promised him a new bike…It was just after 3 pm. Charles Jaynes reported that Jeffrey stated, “You guys are my best friends” shortly after this ride began. You see, the reality was Jaynes and Sicari had been grooming Jeffrey for months taking him to McDonalds and the Museum of Science, and other places. To Jeffrey, these men were not strangers but people he felt like he knew and was comfortable with. He likely did not realize he was in danger until those last few minutes.
The family reported the boy missing when he did not return home that evening and police searches began the next day. Like many other cases, by the time the searches began, it was already much too late.
Very soon after Jeffrey was in the car, the suspects, Salvatore Sicari and Charles Jayne brutally murdered Jeffrey by smothering him by Jaynes sitting on him with his disgusting, extensive body weight after stuffing a gasoline soaked rag into Jeffrey’s mouth. Jeffrey fought hard but was no match for Jayne’s size. Charles Jayne then went to work at the Honda Village in Newton, with the victim’s body in the car, on the floor near the backseat where Sicari secured it and put in the trunk . After work, Jaynes and Sicari drove to Jayne’s Manchester, NH apartment. Jeffrey’s dead body was then raped by the men. When they were through, they stuffed Jeffrey into a plastic tote with lime and concrete and tossed him off a bridge into the Great Works River in South Berwick, Maine where his body was found on October 7, 1997.
During the search for Jeffrey, Salvatore Sicari, was interviewed 4 times after saying he saw Jeffrey the day he went missing, which culminating in his admission of being involve. He admitted to the kidnapping and subsequent murder with an accomplice, Charles Jayne. Sicari claimed to be a witness to the crime with Jayne committing the actual murder.
Both men were convicted in this disgusting crime and given life sentences. Jayne finally admitted his role in the crime just this year, but in some screwed up twist Jayne has the possibility of parole on his conviction of second degree murder.
For the sake of the family, and other family’s of small children, I am hoping that neither man ever sees the outside of prison walls again. I hope every moment they spent in prison, they suffer for what they have done. After a story like this, it feels like they could never suffer enough.
Here are a few more articles if you are interested in this case:
13 year old Melissa Benoit was a resident of Kingston,MA. She lived in a home with her mother and an 11 year old sister. The family had recently been through tragedy when the year before, Melissa’s father had passed away unexpectedly at just 41 years old leaving the family devastated.
Melissa was last seen on a path near her home about 2:30 pm on Saturday, September 15, 1990 where she went to visit her father’s grave. Melissa frequented this path, visiting her father often, a feat made easy by the proximity of the cemetery to her home.
The FBI asked neighbors to search properties and undergo polygraph testing related to the case. By September 19th, suspicion had fallen on a neighbor who had lived in the area for 30 years. After failing the polygraph, this man, Henry L. Meinholz admitted to prior lewd acts including sexual assault at knifepoint and public masterbation.
The disappearance was immediately taken seriously and the search for Melissa was extensive, involving 1000 law enforcement officers and volunteers. After Meinholz’s wife consented, a search was executed on his home and Melissa’s body was recovered during that search.
Her body, clad only in a tshirt, was found in the basement of the Meinholz home 11 days after she went missing. She was wrapped in plastic sheet which was fashioned as a cord around her neck . There was a cord around her chest, and a cord around her left wrist, and evidence there had been cords around other limbs while she was alive. She was naked from the waist down and had multiple blunt force contusions on her body. She had contusions on her bilateral inner thighs consistent with sexual assault. Cause of death was asphyxia and blunt fore trauma to the head.
Meinholz, 52, a bookkeeper at a lumber yard and church deacon ,was charged and convicted with kidnapping and killing the young girl . He claimed the voices in his head taunted him that he was not a man if he did not have sex with her. Meinholz was not charged with sexual assault because it could not be proven due to decomposition, however he did testify to sexually assaulting her but stated the sexual contact with the 13 year old was consentual, which only shows what a true abomination this man was. Of course, no one believed any of his sick lies any way, I just hate that her mother and sister had to sit there and listen to that after all they had been through.
Meinholz was given life in prison without parole, and he started his time in prison in Walpole but after many threats and one an assault, he was moved to the prison in Concord. I didn’t need to add that part but it made me feel good to think he suffered some after what he did.
Meinholz died in prison in 2000. The judge in the murder trial discussed that it was unfortunate the days where defendants like Meinholz could be hanged in front of the courthouse had passed.
Melissa is buried next to her father in Evergreen Cemetery in Kingston.
Lakeville is small town, MA. There is barely even a center to the town. Blink, and you will surely miss it. Violent crime is almost non-existent in this town but tragedy still struck 51 Hill Street on a quiet Saturday. In this case, there seem to be more questions than answers…mainly, why?
The family home was locked with the deadbolts from the inside when the authorities arrived to the home in order to do a wellness check. The last confirmed sighting of the family was Friday, when the family returned from vacation. Once the authorities entered the home what they discovered was a terrible tragedy.
Paul Riley was a 52 year old Lt firefighter who worked out of Brockton, Ma. He was married to his second wife, Alicia (Frawley) Riley, who hailed from Brockton. He was said to have a good relationship with his first wife, with whom he also had a son.
Paul was known to be a good guy to family, friends and coworkers. There was no evidence of stress or domestic strife that any friends or family were aware of. There were no records that the police were ever called to the home for any issues other than false alarms from the home security system.
Alicia (Frawley) Riley, was just 37 years old. Alicia was formerly of Brockton, and was a volunteer at the Lakeville Animal Shelter. Alicia came from a big family, with 4 brothers and three sisters. Alicia and Paul had lived in the home at 51 Hill Street for 8 years, and were in the process of building a large, new home on Calthrop Drive in Bridgewater, MA, in a small subdivision of about 10 homes. The couple were their own contractors on the project. This project was reportedly running over budget – but the couple did not show the normal signs of financial hardship. Could this have really been the cause?
The Riley family had just returned from a vacation in Disney World on Friday, which was the last day they were seen alive. Relatives did not hear from them, and called the police Monday night to check up on the family. The police arrived at approximately 6 pm and made the discovery of the tragedy after breaking into the house through a window. The house was secured from inside with the deadbolt. Alicia was found fully clothed, and deceased in the bathtub, and investigators stated it was unclear if she was shot there, or moved there afterwards but there was never any indication they found a secondary site in the house where she would have been shot.
The children, Matthew, 6, & Erin, just 2 years old were found in bed. The children were wearing their pajamas. Autopsies for all 4 individuals in the home showed that each of the victims was shot just once, and that they had likely been dead for 48 hours, putting their deaths at sometime Saturday. Police indicated there were no signs of a struggle in the home. Authorities believe Paul killed his wife and two small children before killing himself.
Paul’s body was found in his son’s bedroom with a .380 semiautomatic pistol underneath his body. Authorities said he purchased the gun in 1989, but that his firearms license expired in 1992. All indications were that his gun shot wound was self-inflicted.
There were no answers I could find on this case. No definitive reason, only a theory that the house they were building being over budget was just too much stress for him. Is that enough to drive a family man to become a family annihilator? Did something happen between the couple on vacation that caused a rift ? What drives a man to shoot his small children? In this case, they didn’t seem to find anything in the investigation that made sense, and I don’t think we will ever truly know.
When I was 9 years old I moved to Middleborough, large in area but still very small town in feel, especially in those days. Think cranberry bogs and small downtown area. I was entering into the fourth grade, kids I met and played with at recess would walk the edge of the woods that bordered around Burkland School and talk. Inevitably, there were two stories that came up. These were actual cases that actually occurred in the small downtown area that I called home at the time. One was the murder of a teenage girl, much more recent and very close to this school – I will detail that case in another post…and this case, a cautionary tale, in a very Adam Walsh way, a reminder to kids why you really shouldn’t talk to strangers that the time period was a little fuzzy on.
As most town lore goes, the stories were mostly short of details and then the details that you did hear frequently changed or the kids that were telling the details did not understand them. I think that’s a good thing especially for this case in particular, because it’s worse than any “monster under the bed” story. At that time, in the mid-eighties, it happened so long ago even at that time that no one was sure when it happened.
So, here is the real story…according to my research. I have included the sources below.
Ellen I. Gamache born July 5th, 1960 to Patricia and James Gamache. She, at the start of this story, was a small, five year old girl with short red hair. She lived with her family on Wood Street in Middleborough, Massachusetts. July 29th, 1965, Ellen went to the town playground with her two older brothers who were ages 8 and 12, and stayed in the kiddie corner area of the playground while the boys walked down the hill to the Town Pool. This playground is in close proximity to the town police and fire stations and was frequented by many parents with their small children in an area that is considered very safe.
Around 4 pm, Ellen could not be found by her brothers. By 6 pm, they had searched their neighborhood and their mother called the police who launched a large scale search launched for Ellen. Over 200 police with bloodhounds and volunteers searched, but she could not be located. The publicity of the search lead to tips, and were some sightings of Ellen, from a girl who saw Ellen in the man’s car and her and her mother reported it to police, and from other children saw her at the playground that day. There are some reports that Smith took her for an ice cream cone.
The search was extensive, residents and police combed the area looking for her. There was an expanded search at the Town Dump because several people had seen the suspect there not long after Ellen went missing. This search did not locate her but it seemed to bring in just enough tips to make Paul N. Smith a serious suspect.
Sadly, her body was found on August 8, 1965. She was located by a woman picking blueberries who had followed her nose to identify an putrid smell in the area. The place where she was found was a wooded area, off Montgomery Street in Lakeville, Massachusetts. According to sources, Ellen was found face down, naked from the waist down with her pants draped over her and her underwear missing. Her body was in an advanced state of decomposition and she was identified through her clothing. Smith stated he put his hand over her mouth until she was dead, both at trial and to another inmate. Autopsy found that Ellen had been stabbed 4 times, beaten and had clearly been sexually assaulted.
Paint chips found in the area near the body were later tied to the suspect, Paul N. Smith. Smith was a 33 year old painter and Handyman who was visiting his brother in town. Smith, a sex offender from the state of New Hampshire, was spotted at the playground while Ellen was there playing. He acted suspiciously after Ellen disappeared and a tip was called in by one of his own relatives. Additionally, his car was in background of pictures taken at the playground that day. He made attempts to sell his car just after the murder, and then traveled out of state to visit extended family. The car was located and impounded. Debris in his car also was similar to debris found on the victim. It is said in sources that he initially attempted to coerce another girl, to go with him for ice cream the day before. I wonder if her refusal saved her life.
The FBI came looking for Mr. Smith, prompting him to flee, leaving his things behind which included blood stained clothes and a knife. A stain from human blood was found on the defendant’s trousers in the suitcase. Due to the time period, DNA was not used in this case.
Police caught up with Paul Smith, and he was arrested in Vermont by August 9, 1965. He was indicted in September on 4 charges . He did not deny committing the crime with his defense being what amounts to insanity with his diagnosed schizophrenia causing him to have the “irresistible” urges to molest and kill a young girl. These urges had been present for some time but he said that he so far had been able to resist the urges. He was a convicted sex offender in the State of Vermont for prior acts that I was unable to uncover during the research.
He faced two trials in this case. The initial conviction was reversed on appeal. One objections was that the venue should have been changed due to a photograph that showed Smith reenacting Ellen’s death during the investigation tainting the jury pool. He was convicted of first degree murder during the second trial. and received a sentence of life in prison.
In 2018, a prison guard was accused of assaulting Smith who was 86 years old at the time, and received lacerations to his face. It’s hard to feel bad for Smith no matter what he has suffered in prison.
Ellen is buried in St Mary’s Cemetery in Middleborough.
This show explores some of the more difficult to solve cases in the Southern Ontario (Canada) area, which remain unresolved to this day. Join your host as she explores the community and facts surrounding each case. Each case features a unique site visit description and various interviews with either friends, family members, law enforcement or specialists.