The Mystery Encyclopedia

Murder of 16 Year Old Lifeguard

During the summer of 2000, a new lifeguard started working at Comins Pond in Warren Massachusetts. Sixteen year old Molly Bish began her new job early that summer. On June 27, 2000, Molly went missing. Police notified Magi Bish, Molly’s mother, that her daughter was not at her lifeguard station and that her belongings were left unattended. Molly failed to go on duty at all that day leading investigators to believe she was abuducted before starting her shift. Her mother is the last person to see her alive.

On June 26, the day before Molly disappeared, Magi Bish noticed a stranger sitting in his car parked near Molly’s lifeguard station. The mustacheod stranger seemed out of place to Magi but she thought nothing of it until after Molly disappeared. Magi did not see the man on the day Molly disappeared; however, another witness reported seeing a man fitting the description provided by Magi earlier in the parking lot – leaving before Magi and Molly arrived. Another witness, a local worker, reported seeing the car described by Magi, a white colored sedan, parked in a nearby cemetery. The cemetery connected to Comins Pond via a walking path.

The largest and most expensive search for a missing person in the state of Massachusetts took place immediately. Neither Molly nor any clues to her disappearance were found. Not until 2002 did anyone find evidence of Molly. Her swimsuit was found in the town of Palmer, in an area known as Whiskey Hill. The next summer, in May 2003, Ricky Beaudreau told Tim McGuigan about finding the swimsuit. Tim contacted police and organized a search. The following June, police found Molly’s body only five miles from home.

Why is this a Mystery

Sixteen year old Molly Bish disappeared from her post as lifeguard shortly before quests arrived. Left exposed at her station was the Pond’s first aid kit, her shoes placed in front of her stand, and her towel draped over the back. Sightings of a mustached man leading to a composite drawing and the presence of the white sedan were the only clues. Investigators, both law enforcement, and web sleuths, want to know why the first aid kit was opened. Was it a ruse to place the young girl at ease? Molly’s torn swimsuit was found within miles of her abduction site and nearby where her remains were found. Unfortunately, no time frame can be determined regarding the placing of Molly’s body on Whisky Hill so the question becomes how long did she remain with her captor and what transpired after her abduction.

Suspects

Suspect Sketch

Molly Bish Suspect Sketch
Seen near lifeguard station and in cemetery adjacent to Comins Pond.

Rodney Stanger

In 2009, a new suspect was investigated. Rodney Stanger, a Florida resident convicted of murdering his girlfriend, had lived in Southbridge, Massachusetts – a few miles from the town of Warren – for more than 20 years. Rodney moved to Florida a year after the Bish murder. Following the murder of Crystal Morrison, Stanger’s girlfriend of 20 years, Crystal’s sister alerted the Massachusetts authorities. Stanger was known to have access to a white car similar to the one seen the day before Bish’s disappearance. He was also known to fish in Comins Pond and hunt in the woods where Bish’s body was found. In addition, Stanger closely matched the description provided by Magi Bish of the man seen in the white sedan the day before Molly’s disappearance. Stanger has not been charged in her case.

In 2009, when Stanger was being investigated for the Bish murder, police also questioned him in connection with the 1993 murder of Holly Piirainen who went missing in Sturbridge. Bish and Piirainen were the same age in 1993, and Bish had written a letter of hope to Piirainen’s parents in 1993. Stanger was not charged in this case. In 2012, forensic evidence led authorities to name David Pouliot — who died in 2003 — as a person of interest in the Piirainen case.

Gerald Battistoni

In November 2011, Gerald Battistoni, a.k.a. Confidential Informant #62 for the Eastern Hampden County Narcotic Task Force, was named as a suspect in Bish’s death by private detective Dan Malley of Massachusetts. Battistoni served time in prison for repeatedly raping a teenage girl in the early 1990s. He attempted suicide in prison after newspaper articles identified him as a potential suspect in Bish and Piirainen’s deaths. Battistoni, who had a criminal record dating back to 1980, had been in the area where Molly’s body was found and resembles a composite sketch of the man Magi saw in the parking lot on the day before Molly disappeared.

After Gerald Battistoni was named as a suspect, Private Detective Dan Malley and the Bish family asked for DNA testing to be done. Massachusetts state police sent the DNA evidence to Texas

Gerald Battistoni died at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain in November 2014

Citations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Molly_Bish#Further_developments

https://www.masslive.com/police-fire/2020/06/justice-for-molly-20-years-after-murder-molly-bishs-family-continues-to-search-for-her-killer.html