Jan. 25, 2023

Arthur Gary Bishop l The Child Serial Killer Next Door

Arthur Gary Bishop l The Child Serial Killer Next Door
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From 1979 to 1983, 5 young boys went missing in Salt Lake City, Utah. An unexpected confession would finally bring closure to the families of these missing boys.







Cedar Fort Photo - https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimpic/

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Arthur Gary Bishop l The Child Serial Killer Next Door


Hinckley, Utah is a tiny farming town with a population of 696 as of the 2010 census. The Bishop family was part of that population made up mostly of Mormons, the eldest of six sons , Arthur Gary Bishop was born in Salt Lake City in 1951.He was an Eagle Scout and after graduating with honors from high school, he went on a Mormon  church mission to the Philippines, Upon returning two years later,  Bishop attended Stevens Henagar College on a scholarship, and graduated with an accounting degree.


Bishop found work at a used car dealership, and it didn’t take long for him to cement his name and legacy within the community of Hinckley, but not in the way that he and his family had hoped. In February of 1978, his family and the community were shocked when Bishop was arrested and charged with embezzlement, his victim: the very dealership he worked for.


Bishop had embezzled over 8000 dollars from the business and, when the case went to court, the judge saw a remorseful young man, fresh from college with no criminal record. He bowed his head and took responsibility for what he’d done, and the judge took notice of that. Wanting to give Bishop a chance to redeem himself, the judge issued him a five-year suspended sentence on the condition that he pay back the money he’d stolen.


Bishop shocked everyone once again, when he ditched town and the debt, and cut off all contact with his family and friends. A warrant was issued for his arrest, he failed to surrender himself to the police, and eventually he was excommunicated from the Mormon Church. Being cut off from his family and the church should have been an eye-opening experience for Bishop, but it seemed like he’d been set free, and. he didn’t waste any time getting on with what he really wanted to do with his new lease on life.


By October of 1978, Bishop was living in Salt Lake City using several aliases, one of them being Roger Downs. Most of his neighbors would have described him as a pillar of his community. By outside appearances, he was devout in his faith and dedicated to helping the next generation of boys grow into becoming well-rounded individuals, 

Under the name of Roger Downs, Bishop signed up for the Big Brother program, whose aim is to teach and mentor young boys, but instead of helping, Bishop left a long-lasting trail of destruction in his wake.


Across the hall from Bishop’s apartment in Salt Lake City lived four-year-old Alonzo Daniels and his family. On October 14th, 1979, little Alonzo suddenly vanished while playing outside in the yard, his frantic mother called on family to help search for her son, but by that time, he was more than likely dead. The police conducted door-to-door interviews with everyone in the apartment complex, including Bishop under his new name Roger Downs, but because Bishop had been using his alias, the investigators missed the warrant out for his arrest. Police thought Bishop was weird, but he was never arrested. Little did they know that Alonzo was lying dead in Bishop’s apartment.


Bishop had lured Alonzo to his apartment with the promise of candy. Alonzo began to cry when Bishop attempted to undress and fondle him. Bishop panicked and hit Alonzo over the head with a hammer, which was unsuccessful in getting him to stop crying. He then carried Alonzo to the bathroom and drowned him in the bathtub. He put Alonzo’s body in a box and carried him out to his car, passing Alonzo’s mother who was crying out for her son on the way. For the next year, Bishop began adopting puppies from nearby shelters at an alarming rate. He adopted somewhere between 15 and 20 puppies, all of them meeting their end by either strangulation or a hammer because they: “whine(d) just like Alonzo did.” Bishop later explained: “I would get frustrated at the whining. I would hit them with hammers or drown them or strangle them… It was so stimulating.” This stifled his urges to kill for a while, but, unfortunately, things came to a head again.


 On November 8th, 1980, an opportunity for Bishop to relive his experiences with Alonzo struck when he came to meet eleven-year-old Kim Peterson through a boy he would call his stepson at a local roller-skating rink. Bishop approached him, the two talked about skates and Kim told Bishop that he was looking to sell his old ones so that he could buy a new pair of skates. Bishop seized this chance and told Kim that he’d be willing to buy his skates for thirty-five dollars. Kim must have been over the moon, and he agreed to meet Bishop back at the rink the next day so that they could go through with the deal. 


Kim came home that night, excitedly telling his parents that he’d found a buyer for his skates, but he didn’t give them a name. His parents weren’t that concerned, as Kim was going to meet the buyer in the middle of the day in a public place. The following day they said goodbye to their son and he promised to come home as soon as he’d made the sale, but that didn’t happen. The hours ticked by and Kim never came back. Bishop took Kim to Cedar Fort under the guise of going hunting. While in the car, Kim agreed to let Bishop take photos of him. After getting out of the car, Bishop walked up behind Kim and shot him in the back with a .38 revolver. When Kim started crying, Bishop shot him two more times in the head and buried his body near Alonzo Daniels.  Witnesses at the skating rink gave conflicting descriptions of the man that Kim had been seen leaving with and the detectives relied heavily on descriptions given by witnesses under hypnosis, something that further muddled the waters and only took them further away from finding Bishop.


A year later, in 1981, Bishop was in trouble with the law again, not for his connection to the disappearances of Alonzo and Kim. He was in trouble this time as Lynn E. Jones, one of his aliases: His crime: embezzling over 9000 dollars from the company he worked for. Bishop had forged checks, using his boss’ name, but Bishop knew an old trick. When he realized that the gig was up, he forged his last checks, stopped by the office and stole his personnel file, taking with him his employer’s only record of where he lived and his contact information. From then on, the only thing that Bishop had to do was to retire his alias Lynn Jones and keep away from places where his old employer could recognize him. Bishop didn’t find this difficult, and he stuck with his other alias, Roger Downs, eliminating the need to skip town or change addresses in order to cover his trail.


Arthur Bishop, now officially Roger Downs, dove right back into the community, using his connections and his seemingly harmless façade to sexually abuse young boys, so many of whom never took their stories to the police. 


On October 20, 1981, Bishop was doing some grocery shopping when, in his own words, he saw: “the most beautiful little boy kneeling in the aisle.” The young boy was Danny Davis, who was playing with the supermarket’s gumball machine when Bishop found him. 


Danny’s grandfather was in the store too, not too far away from where Danny was playing, when Bishop took the chance and offered Danny some candy. Danny refused the sweets and Bishop figured that he’d better make himself scarce before someone figured out what he was trying to do. However when he started heading out of the store, he saw Danny following behind him. Bishop waited, giving Danny a chance to catch up with him before he led him out towards the parking lot, and straight to his apartment. Once there, Danny played with some toys, became bored and started to cry so Bishop smothered him. He placed his body in a garbage bag and disposed of it the next day. Meanwhile. Danny’s grandfather is frantically searching up and down the grocery aisles, he had a bad feeling and just knew that someone had taken him. Danny and his grandfather were especially close, they went everywhere and did so many things together. He died shortly after Danny’s death. 


Law enforcement scoured the desert and mountains, they dredged the local rivers and checked the sides of the roads, but Danny was gone, and he became another young boy that had somehow just vanished without a trace. During the search, Bishop was questioned again, but it was still only routine, and he was still, somehow, not suspected of having anything to do with the missing boys even though he lived near where all the boys disappeared from. Another eighteen months would go by, and the police were no closer to figuring out where the boys were or who had taken them, but Bishop wasn’t quite finished cementing his horrible legacy yet.

June 22nd,1983, was Troy Ward’s sixth birthday and his mother left him home alone to run to the store for a birthday cake and ice cream. She asked a neighbor to check on him while she was gone. No doubt excited for his big day, he waited on the corner for his mom to return when he was lured away by Bishop. He took Troy to his home and asked if he wanted to play a game. Troy agreed and Bishop handcuffed him and tied him between two pillars in his basement. When Bishop pulled down his pants, Troy started to cry. Bishop silenced him with a rubber mallet over his head. He placed Troy’s body in a garbage bag and tossed it into a stream up Big Cottonwood Canyon.


 Unlike his other abductions, Bishop had waited only a few weeks before he changed another life.


Thirteen-year-old Graeme Cunningham had shown no signs of wanting to run away from home, in fact, he’d been incredibly excited about a camping trip he’d be taking in only a couple of days. His bags were packed, his gear checked and all that was left to do was to enjoy his trip to California with his classmate, the so-called stepson of Bishop, who was going by Roger Downs. On July 14th, 1983, Graeme received a phone call and after he hung up, he told his mother that he was meeting someone. She told him to be back for dinner. Bishop picked up Graeme and took him to his home where he asked if he would pose for some photos in exchange for a skateboard. Graeme agreed. Afraid that Graeme would tell, he hit him over the head with a hammer, then drowned him in the tub. When he didn’t return, Graeme’s parents were alarmed, and the police were called. Bishop even showed up to their home and offered to help in the search. Later, in custody, he would tell detectives that his impulse was sincere. “I wanted to help her,” he said. “I just didn’t know how to tell her that I killed her son.”


When the investigators asked around, it didn’t take them long to find out that Bishop had a reputation for being too familiar with young boys. This got the investigators thinking about the missing boys and how they’d all gone missing from the same general area that he lived in. They questioned Bishop about the missing boys, and his relationship with this so-called stepson that he had been sexually abusing for years according to the boy. Quite unexpectedly, Bishop confessed to killing and molesting all five of the missing boys. He told the investigators that Danny Davis was the only child that had not been molested, the others had been both before and after death.


That same day, Bishop took officers to Cedar Fort, where he walked them to a patch of ground and pointed to three shallow graves where the bodies of Alonzo, Kim and Danny, would eventually be recovered. He then took them sixty-five miles north to Big Cottonwood Canyon and showed them where Troy and Graeme were dumped, their bodies hung up in some logs in a creek. Several nude pictures of unidentified young boys, along with Bishop’s revolver and still-bloody hammer were retrieved from Bishop’s home. They also recovered a book called, 100 Ways to Disappear and Live Free.


Bishop was charged with five counts of capital murder and kidnapping, two counts of forcible sexual assault and one count of sexually abusing a minor. He was only charged with the most recent crimes which was enough to get him the death penalty. 


While awaiting trial, news broke that Bishop’s younger brother had been arrested for molesting young boys in Utah and Millard counties, just south of Salt Lake City. He was convicted of three counts of sodomy on a child and one count of forcible sodomy, and was given four, five years to life terms in prison. He admitted to a parole board that he molested 26 boys ranging in age from 5 to 17. He later received two one-to-fifteen-year sentences for escaping from prison and auto theft while on the run. He is currently out of prison and living in Utah.” 


At trial, Bishop had little chance for acquittal, so his defense attorneys were aiming for a conviction of manslaughter. Their defense claimed he had emotional deficits, saying “Art became, for some reason, stuck or fixated with a sexual attraction to little boys. He never outgrew those erotic feelings. He was a lonely, frightened child” they also attributed his escalating perverse behavior on pornography, much like what Bundy did as he stated in his final interview. After six weeks of testimony, the jury of five men and seven women deliberated for 11 hours before finding him guilty on all counts. 


Bishop’s taped confession was played for the penalty phase, where in some parts he giggled and raised his voice to mimic the dying boy's pleas. It was no doubt sickening to listen to and some jurors wept. The final judgment for Bishop was death and in Utah at the time, inmates had a choice between the firing squad or lethal injection. Bishop chose the latter. 


An appeal was pursued and denied, and even though at first Bishop seemed to want to fight his death penalty conviction, in 1988 he resigned himself and stopped any further appeals. Three days later, he stood before Judge Frank Noel and read a handwritten statement, “In reflecting back on my life,” “I remember a lot of good things, but these are overshadowed by the things I have done. I wish I could make restitution somehow, but I don’t see how I can. I wish I could go back and change what happened, or that by giving my life these five innocent lives could be restored. Again, I say that I am truly sorry for all the anguish.” When Bishop was done, the judge promptly signed the death warrant and set his execution date for June 10th, 1988,

Bishop visited with his parents for the last time on June 8th and spent the rest of his last days and hours fasting and praying, declining a last meal. On June 10th, his last words before he met his fate were "I want to offer again my most profound and heartfelt apologies to my victims' families. I am truly sorry. I have tried my best to empathize with their grief and devastation and I hope they come to know of my concerns and prayers for them."