DNA evidence not a match to person of interest in Molly Bish investigation

We have learned of a setback in the search for the killer of Molly Bish.
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 4:00 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2022 at 4:16 PM EDT
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(WGGB/WSHM) - We have learned of a setback in the search for the killer of Molly Bish. DNA testing results have delivered disappointing news to the family that has been waiting decades for answers and justice.

“Not a match.” They are three words casting doubt on the efforts to find the killer of Molly Bish.

“It’s disappointing. We keep hoping we’re going to find this bad guy, you know. It is scary to think if this isn’t the guy, like, who is it then?” said Molly’s sister, Heather Bish.

It’s a blow to Heather Bish, who hoped a DNA sample from the son of potential suspect, Francis Sumner Sr., would bring long-awaited answers. Instead, she fears more system failures.

“Molly’s case is in this position right now because police didn’t respond to a missing child. They did not know how to respond, they did not preserve the crime scene. There were errors after errors after errors,” Heather Bish added.

Molly Bish was just 16 when she disappeared from her lifeguard post on Comins Pond in Warren in June 2000. Her remains were found three years later in Palmer.

Just last year, the Worcester District Attorney’s Office revealed a breakthrough in the case and named convicted kidnapper and rapist Francis Sumner Sr. a person of interest. He had died in 2016.

“It’s frustrating because with the other persons of interest, we had much more circumstantial information and that helped us garner more information,” Heather Bish noted.

Despite the recent test results, she said authorities remain focused on Sumner, though the family doesn’t know why.

“It’s frustrating for my family and I that we’re not told exactly what tests are being done and we can’t ask more specific questions based on our knowledge. That doesn’t seem to me like that would be something that would hurt the investigation,” Heather Bish said.

The Worcester D.A.’s office said it’s a balancing act to maintain the integrity of the investigation while keeping the family and public informed and “this investigation remains very active and ongoing. For this reason, any discussion of evidence or the status of DNA evidence being tested is premature and inappropriate at this time.”

Even after more than two decades, Heather Bish is clinging to hope that emerging technology will one day close in on her sister’s killer.

“I might be sitting in my rocking chair at 85-years-old and get a phone call one day that they were able to figure this out…I’m certain, at some point, will have the answers. It’s just really hard to wait for them,” Heather Bish added.

Heather Bish is asking for support of a bill in the Senate Ways and Means Committee that would streamline familial DNA testing in Massachusetts and protect it as a tool for law enforcement.