Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Deadly Professor

Conference Room Chaos

Faculty meetings are of notoriously dull stuff: budget disputes, course schedules and so on. But on the afternoon of February 12, 2010, a biology department meeting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville took a bizarre and bloody turn. Neurobiologist Amy Bishop allegedly pulled a gun on her colleagues and opened fire in a conference room bloodbath that left Gopi Podila, Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnston dead, and wounded Luis Cruz-Vera, Joseph Leahy and Stephanie Monticciolo.

Amy Bishop arrested (center)
Amy Bishop arrested (center)

Perhaps the failure of her bid for tenure had pushed arrogant and ambitious assistant professor Bishop, 44, over the edge. Or maybe it had it just been a matter of time before brainy Bishop's dark side would resurface: She had shot and killed her brother in Massachusetts in 1986; the shooting had been deemed an accident at the time, but the case is being reevaluated. Bishop was also suspected of sending a Harvard colleague a pipe bomb in 1994; this too is now being reviewed.

Bishop's UAH colleagues, however, didn't have a clue about the suspicions that had swirled around her back in her home state, though some of them found her difficult and unpredictable. It was only after she was accused of the 2010 shooting that her violent story came together, revealing the two earlier incidents, a pancake house assault and some wild, murderous unpublished novels.

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