In every murder case in the United States, there is a 1-in-3 chance that the killer will remain unidentified for years.

According to the FBI, the national clearance rate for murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases is 61.4% (in 2019, latest data).

The rates have been steady at 59% – 65% since 2010. Bear in mind that the term “clearance” does not always mean conviction.

A clearance usually refers to an arrest or a case closed by other means, for example, if the suspect dies.

The Washington Post reported that out of 54,868 homicide cases in 55 major American cities between 2007 – 2017, about 50% ended up without arrest.

In 2000, the national clearance rate was 63.1% for murder cases.

The northeastern regions posted a bleak 19.8% rate among the most notable of those unsolved homicides in the case of Molly Bish from Worcester County, Massachusetts.

For more than 20 years since her disappearance, the authorities can still not pinpoint a definitive suspect, let alone make an arrest.

Every new lead in the investigation has turned out to be a dead end.


10 /10 A Former Lifeguard

Molly Bish disappeared on June 7, 2000. The 16-year-old girl was last seen alive at Comins Pond in Warren, Massachusetts, where she worked as a lifeguard.

Her remains were discovered three years later, on June 3, 2003, in the woods just several miles away from the pond.

After more than two decades of investigation, the police have found no solid evidence linking to the kidnapper and killer.

Despite countless setbacks in their search for a suspect, the authorities in Worcester County imply that the investigation is ongoing.


9 /10 Mysterious Man In Chrysler

A day before Molly disappeared, her mother Magi noticed a suspicious-looking man in a white Chrysler on the beach near Molly’s lifeguard post.

That said, Magi had no apparent reason to be particularly wary of the stranger at that time.

The next day, she again drove her daughter to work; they arrived at 10:00 a.m. Magi saw no sign of the man she had seen the day before on the beach. At 11:44 a.m., Molly went radio silent and was nowhere to be found in or around her post. She was reported missing.

8 /10 Late Notification

Before the missing person’s report, some parents had already noticed her absence from the post.

However, some of her belongings were still there, like the lifeguard chair, shoes, and whistle.

Molly’s first aid kit was open. One of the parents even assumed the lifeguard position before informing Molly’s boss about her unknown whereabouts.

The police did not take the report seriously enough, considering that Molly must have walked off the job to meet with friends.

When at 1:00 p.m. there were still no words from her, the police notified Magi.

7 /10 Initial Search

Magi and Molly’s older sister, Heather, met at the police station. According to the authorities, the likelihood of Molly being kidnapped or something serious happened to her was pretty slim.

Instead, the police believed she had gone to confront someone regarding a problem with a friend.

The mother and daughter asked Molly’s boyfriend if he had heard from her, but he said there was nothing to worry too much about.

The police sent a dive team and boats to search the area’s pond and woods; both search parties found nothing.


6 /10 Larger Search

At 06:00 a.m. on June 28, the search resumed. The authorities deployed just about every unit, including a helicopter equipped with thermal imaging.

Local businesses took their parts by printing posters and spreading flyers, whereas the townspeople coordinated voluntary search efforts of their own.

The police scoured the path from the pond to a nearby cemetery because someone could have escaped through the unseen area.

Based on the open first aid kit box, some speculated someone might have faked an injury and lured Molly to abandon her post. Suddenly, Magi remembered the suspicious-looking man again.

Public Domain

5 /10 Contaminated Scene

When asked about the description of the man, Magi said he was about 50 years of age with a mustache, dark eyes, and salt and pepper hair. She then worked with a sketch artist to make a composite.

The Worcester County District Attorney, Joseph Early Jr., ordered a search of dozens of white vehicles in the area.

Meanwhile, the police set up some roadblocks, but without specific make and model specifications, they produced no result.

As everyone was busy coordinating the search, Comins Pond – precisely the location of Molly’s post – became too contaminated to conduct a crime scene investigation.

4 /10 Wild Theories

Unsubstantiated reported sightings from faraway places made people think Molly, for some reason, deliberately had not returned home.

For example, two unrelated tips from Miami, Florida, said she had been sighted in the city.

The police were about to make the trip until another end came from a retired cop saying that Molly’s case must have been connected to the disappearance and murder of Holly Piirainen in 1993.

During the case investigation, the then 10-year-old Molly sent a sympathy letter to the Piirainen family. The case has not been solved yet.

3 /10 Clothing Found

A breakthrough came in May 2003. A local hunter said he had seen a piece of clothing, specifically a bathing suit, in a wooded section of Palmer known as the Whiskey Hill.

He gave the information to a retired police officer, who then passed it along to the authorities. DNA analysis confirmed it was indeed Molly’s bathing suit.

Another massive search ensued, covering the wooded area. On June 9, the police discovered a human bone believed to be of someone aged 14 – 20.

An immediate follow-up search managed to recover 26 other bones. Another DNA analysis confirmed all were Molly’s remains.


2 /10 Persons Of Interests

Apart from Molly’s boss and boyfriend at the time, the police have named several persons of interest over the years.

In February 2008, authorities were looking into a possible connection between the case and a man named Rodney Stanger.

A tip came to the District Attorney’s Office saying that Stanger was involved in the murder of Molly Bish.

At the time, he was already a suspect in the murder of his girlfriend and would later plead guilty. In 2011, a convicted rapist Gerald Battistoni was named a suspect, and none was charged in the case.


1 /10 Aftermath

The disappearance and murder of Molly Bish have been featured in such popular TV shows as America’s Most Wanted, 48 Hours, Disappeared, and Unsolved Mysteries.

Magi’s parents have also started the Molly Bish Foundation to help improve children’s safety awareness and crime prevention.

The foundation has also helped pass state legislation to implement the AMBER Alert system.

On every anniversary of Molly’s disappearance, her family arranged a public vigil to keep people’s memory of her and the unsolved case alive.

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