"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

A Library in Your Pocket

February 21, 2010

"If Bullets Were Gold": An Alternate and 'Novel Theory' of the Motives of Accused Murderer Dr. Amy Bishop

Dr. Amy Bishop faces capital murder charges for three deaths when she opened fire during a faculty meeting at the University of Alabama-Huntsville on February 12.  Dr. Bishop should also face charges for the attempted murders of four other colleagues, three of whom she shot and another whom she repeatedly attempted to shoot.

Even though motive is not an element of any prosecutor's case, juries crave evidence of motive because if the 'why' does not make sense to a juror, it is a short step from uncertainty about motive to reasonable doubt about guilt. This is especially so in a criminal case where the defense is claiming insanity as the motive or reason for the crimes.

What was the motive for the shootings at UAH?

According to the Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime, the most common homicidal motivations are: abandonment/rejection; altruism/mercy killings; cover/destruction of evidence; alcohol/drugs; escape; fame/celebrity; fatal abuse;  protection of self/others; frustration/anger; greed; hate/resentment; honor; indirect killing; insanity/mental illness; judicial reasons; lover's triangle; media influence; murder/suicide; rivalry/jealousy; sexual property; sexual sadism; and unwanted children.

Dr. Bishop's lawyer has already revealed Amy Bishop's theory of the case: that she is not guilty by reason of insanity. In an upcoming article Shepherds and Black Sheep  will examine the insanity defense in depth.

Early focus considered whether Dr. Bishop's motivation for her deadly and violent attacks was retaliation for having been denied tenure by UAH. Using the Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime terminology,  the motives of frustration/anger and hate/resentment. 

This installment of Shepherds and Black Sheep considers an alternate theory of the crimes charged against Dr. Amy Bishop in connection with the events of February 12, 2010. This alternate theory falls under the Encyclopedia's defined murder motives of fame/celebrity and greed.

The theory is this: Dr. Amy Bishop planned and carried out the February 12 shootings that resulted in three deaths to gain nationwide notoriety (fame/celebrity) so she could use that notoriety as a launch pad for a new career as a novelist (fame/celebrity and greed.)

While this may seem initially too far fetched for serious consideration, it certainly fits the facts and makes evil sense out of the violent acts of Dr. Amy Bishop.

What rational person would seek publication of her novels through notoriety generated by ruthless acts of violence?  Perhaps the same person who believes that she could obtain a child's high chair at a pancake house by screaming at and physically attacking another mother. Perhaps the same person who thought she could pad her professional record and obtain tenure by publishing in an online vanity journal collaborative research that deceptively identified her minor children as co-authors and employees of a lab which was, in fact, located in her home. Perhaps the same person who had already got away with murder once and believed she could do it again and again and again.

The fact that Amy Bishop aspired to be a novelist is not in dispute. Rob Dinsmoor, a freelance writer, met Bishop through a writer's group in Massachusettes and the two became and remained friends even after Dr. Bishop joined the UAH faculty.

During a broadcast radio interview on WBZ ,  Dinsmoor reported that he and Amy Bishop talked frequently on the phone right up until about a week before the February 12 shootings. Dr. Bishop complained frequently to Dinsmoor about denied tenure and told him she was "at the end of her rope, financially."

Dinsmoor said that Amy Bishop "absolutely" saw the "possibility of being published as an author as an escape from this track she was on in academia that did not include tenure." Dr. Bishop also frequently mentioned to Dinsmoor she was related to best selling novelist John Irving and she told Dinsmoor, "God, if only I could quit academia and write fiction full time that would be my dream world."

In 1999,  Amy Bishop Anderson secured a copyright for her still unpublished 260 page novel she called "The Martian Experiment."  She copyrighted at the same time alternate titles including:

"If Bullets Were Gold"

As fate would have it, this is also an apt working title for her premeditated, cold blooded executions and attempted murders of her UAH colleagues.

When Dr. Amy Bishop learned she was denied tenure at UAH and her final appeals had failed, she faced the dismal prospect at age 45 of competing with  newly minted Ph.d's half her age, whose academic careers held promise, where hers reflected only recent failure.

Recognizing her academic career was in virtual shambles, Amy Bishop Anderson, the long aspiring novelist, strategized a plan that would provide her national notoriety and finally launch her literary career.

The steps in her plan:  obtain a hand gun, practice shooting at a local range with her husband and partner in all business affairs James Anderson, have her husband drive her to work the day of the planned executions, carry the gun in a canvas book bag and act just weird enough in class so that her students would take note, then bring the loaded gun to her department faculty meeting and when the hour long meeting was almost over,  but before anyone stood to leave, stand and begin shooting one after another colleague in the head.

When Dr. Bishop ran out of bullets,  she allowed her surviving colleagues to push her out the door.  She left the murder weapon in the restroom and calmly called her husband for him to come get her.

Given all these facts, the theory of the crimes now posited, though seemingly far fetched at first blush is, in fact, quite probable upon deeper examination:  Dr. Amy Bishop plotted and murdered her colleagues in cold blood to gain notoriety from which she could launch what she dreamed would be a profitable career as a novelist.

In Dr. Bishop's evil mind,  the opportunity to destroy the UAH Biological Sciences Department was probably a veritable bonus, appeasing her frustration/anger and hate/resentment.

Because Dr. Bishop needs to play the baffled amnesiac for the duration of the criminal proceedings in order for her 'not guilty by reason of insanity' plea to have any hope of success,  her husband James Anderson has to step up and for once assume a leadership role in their relationship.

Dr. Bishop complained to Rob Dinsmoor in their phone calls that she was frustrated that her husband James Anderson was not employed and did not contribute financially to the family. If Dr. Bishop degraded her husband to Dinsmoor in this manner, it is doubtful she showed any more tact or restraint in communicating her frustration directly to her husband about his lack of financial contribution to the family.

So it now falls upon James Anderson to  carry out the final steps of Dr. Bishop's evil plan: to bring to market her novels.  Mr. Anderson's first step in that direction was alerting the nation to the fact that, 'oh by the way, my wife has three unpublished novels sitting at home.'

What he left out of his staged revelation was "Let the bidding begin."


  1. I considered this posting a bit over the top but this new finding from the 1986 shooting is a bit horrifying as well.

    From the Boston Herald, February 26th, 2010

    Investigators examining 1986 photos of Amy's room found a newspaper article refering to "the November 1986 shooting of “Dallas” star Patrick Duffy’s parents in Montana. The TV tycoon’s parents were felled by shotgun blasts to the chest in their Boulder, Mont., bar by two teens who fled to a car dealership and stole a pickup truck. They were ultimately caught."

    On another note, you should not assume Amy ran out of bullets. A modern 9 mm semiautomatic handgun holds far more than 6 bullets. For example, a standard magazine of a Glock 19 holds 15 rounds. A Beretta PX4 Storm Type F magazine holds 17 rounds. Her gun most likely did not automatically chamber the next round which is what may have saved the life of Dr. Moriarity and others.

  2. Thanks for your comments.

    I agree completely that this 'novel theory' of mine is out there, but so is Dr. Bishop.

    Her husband James Anderson, who presumably knows her best, said that Dr. Bishop was upset about being denied tenure, but she viewed her appeal “like a game of chess.”

    This suggests Dr. Bishop had a plan and was being strategic when she killed. She told her friend from her writing class Dinsmoor that her dream was to be a novelist and leave the tenure issues behind her.

    Her dream of being a novelist was not an idle dream. Dr. Bishop had worked towards it diligently for years with no success. She had completed novels no one wanted to publish. She told Disnmoor about her being distant cousins to John Irving. According to Dinsmoor, Bishop asked Irving for help but all Irving gave her was general information.

    If you review the FBI Pipe Bomb report, I think there is substantial evidence in there showing that Dr. Bishop and her husband were very probably behind the incident.

    One very peculiar fact in the FBI report is that there was more than one address on the pipe bomb package.

    One of addresses on the package was the New York address of Random House which happens to be the publisher of John Irving.

    Above all, I believe Dr. Bishop is a sociopath. But I also believe based on the evidence I have examined that she viewed the killings as serving dual purposes: revenge against UAH for not recognizing her genius and denying her tenure and a means to kick start her career as a novelist by giving her instant notoriety.

    But it is, of course, just a theory.