TIMELINE: Molly Bish cold case

I-Team

(WWLP) – A break in the Molly Bish cold case two decades after the 16-year-old was murdered in Worcester County, a person of interest has been named.

The person of interest is Francis Sumner Sr. He died in 2016 but is now being investigated as a suspect in the disappearance and murder of Molly Bish. The 16-year-old was working one of her first shifts as a lifeguard at Comins Pond in Warren on June 27, 2000, the day she was last seen alive.

That set off a massive search with more than 200 people looking for her in the acres of wooded area surrounding the pond. Her skeletal remains were found three years later in the woods of Whiskey Hill in nearby Palmer just a few miles away from the pond.

On what would have been her 20th birthday, Bish’s funeral was held. Since then there have been a number of leads, and a few suspects along the way including a man in jail in Florida who lived in the Southbridge area at the time of Bish’s abduction.

Investigators even sent evidence to a special lab in Dallas for further testing in 2013.

A “white car” had been one of the strongest clues in her disappearance. Based on tips her family received, they thought it might be buried in West Brookfield. In June 2017 a search of the old Sawmilll Campground was done to try to find that car. Nothing turned up.

Fast forward to Thursday, the Worcester County DA’s office announces Sumner as a person of interest. His photo strikingly similar to a sketch done of a man that Bish’s mom Magi said was seen at Comins Pond the day before her daughter went missing.

Sumner died in 2016 but lived in central Massachusetts from 1960 until his death, last living in Spencer. He has a long criminal history including serving time for aggravated rape and kidnapping.

State police detectives are looking for tips from the public for more information about Sumner like details on his employment, personal life, associates, vehicles or travel habits. Anyone with information is asked to call the anonymous tip line at 508-453-7575.

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