Person of interest named in Molly Bish murder after 20 years, suspect died in 2016

Hampden County

WORCESTER, Mass. (WWLP) – A person of interest has been named in the 20-year-old cold case murder of Molly Bish, a young lifeguard who disappeared and was later found dead, the Worcester District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday. 

According to District Attorney Joseph Early, Francis “Frank” P Sumner Sr., a man who died in 2016, is being investigated in the disappearance and murder of the 16-year-old back in June 2000. 

This new development comes three weeks before the 21st anniversary of Molly’s disappearance. She vanished after being dropped off at Comins Pond in Warren on the morning of June 27, 2000.

Molly’s disappearance set of a massive manhunt. Her whereabouts remained a mystery for nearly three years until her body was found in a wooded area of Palmer.

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She was a lifeguard at the Pond.

For nearly 21 years, Molly’s family has prayed for a breakthrough in the case. They became advocates for child safety, as well as for other parents of missing children.

They founded the Molly Bish Center for the Protection of Children and the Elderly in cooperation with Anna Maria College in Paxton.

Molly’s sister Heather Bish spoke with 22News Thursday evening on a Zoom call after Sumner’s name was released as the person of interest in her sister’s disappearance and murder.

Heather said she’s relieved because she’s been “hunting a killer for 20 years and it’s been really hard.”

Sumner was born in 1945 and lived in central Massachusetts from 1960 through 2016, according to the DA’s office. He is a convicted rapist and kidnapper who was among the many suspects on authorities’ radar in the case.

Sumner has a long criminal history including serving time for aggravated rape and kidnapping, violations, and harassment orders. He operated auto repair shops in the Spencer, Leicester, and Worcester areas. 

He lived in Spencer before he died in 2016.

Early said State Police detectives are seeking the public’s help with information relative to Sumner’s employment practices/personnel, associates, vehicles, travel, and any known habits. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the anonymous tip line at 508-453-7575.

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