Sins of the Past


By lex, on February 14th, 2010

It turns out that the “disgruntled” neurobiologist who shot up six of her academic colleagues – three fatally – because she’d been denied tenure at ‘Bama Huntsville has something of a record:

The neurobiologist accused of killing three colleagues at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, on Friday fatally shot her brother in 1986 in suburban Boston, and the police there are now questioning whether their department mishandled that case when it let her go without filing charges…

On Saturday afternoon, the police in Braintree, Mass., announced that 24 years ago, Dr. Bishop had fatally wounded her brother, Seth Bishop, in an argument at their home, which The Boston Globe first reported on its Web site. The police were considering reopening the case, in which she was not charged and the report by the officer on duty at the time was no longer available, said Paul Frazier, the Braintree police chief.

“The release of Ms. Bishop did not sit well with the police officers,” Chief Frazier said in a statement, “and I can assure you that this would not happen in this day and age.” He said at a news conference on Saturday that the original account describing the shooting as an accident had been inaccurate and, The Globe said, that while he was reluctant to use the word “cover-up,” it did not “look good” that the detailed records of the case have been missing since 1988…

Another officer, Timothy Murphy, seized the shotgun, and Dr. Bishop was handcuffed and transported to the police station under arrest, Chief Frazier said.

He said that he spoke with the person who was the booking officer at the time, who recalled getting a call “he believes was from then-Police Chief John Polio or possibly from a captain on Chief Polio’s behalf” to stop the process. Dr. Bishop was released from police custody, and the two left the police station by a rear exit, Chief Frazier said…

The police chief at the time denies wrongdoing:

“Everything was done that should have been done under the circumstances,” Mr. Polio said in a phone interview. “She was questioned, and then turned over to her mother. The determination was made that we were going to turn the inquiry over to the district attorney.”

The district attorney at the time was Bill Delahunt, who is now a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts. Mr. Delahunt was traveling in Israel and could not be reached.

Which is not entirely true: Congressman Delahunt is on record today saying that he may not seek re-election in the fall for unrelated reasons:

US Representative William Delahunt said yesterday that he is considering retiring from his congressional seat representing the South Shore and Cape Cod, although he portrayed his deliberations as routine and said they are not related to challenges from Republicans who are energized by Scott Brown’s upset victory in last month’s special Senate election.

Being in a position of public power, whether as an attorney general or as a congressman, comes with the risk of making significant mistakes. There are those who criticize Congressman Delahunt for his alleged cozy relations with Nicaraguan caudillo Hugo Chavez, who cut the congressman’s constituents a heating oil deal. It will be interesting to see where, if anywhere at all, the investigation into Dr. Bishop’s first shooting goes.

At least three faculty members at the University of Alabama could not be reached for comment.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Neptunus Lex, Politics and Culture

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