DURHAM, N. C. – The mysterious death of a property developer found, strangled with a dog leash in the neighborhood took an unusual turn Friday when his son was charged with killing him.
Durham Police said in a press release that Alexander Bishop, 16, was Friday arrested and accused of murder in the death of the 60-year-old William Bishop. Bishop, who developed a prominent real estate projects in Florida, had been living in North Carolina for the past decade. The teen will be prosecuted as an adult.
Alexander Bishop attorney Daniel Meier not immediately respond to phone calls or e-mails seeking comment on Friday.
The strange death made headlines in two states, as what sounded at first like a freak accident soon made place for researchers suspected, and an autopsy that ruled the death a homicide. Investigators spent months probing the case — parsing, unusual details, such as an alleged safe filled with gold, and the submission of at least seven search warrants.
When officers arrived, Bishop was in a leather chair in the home theater of the 4,000 square foot (370 square meter) house that, according to county records, has an estimated value of approximately $800,000. It is a short drive from one of the oldest clubs, Hope Valley.
After being found unresponsive, the developer died three days later in a hospital.
What happened there started to look suspicious shortly after emergency medical personnel arrived. Alexander Bishop told the EMS supervisor that “he was not going to be upset about his dying father. He told me that his father abused him and his mother for a number of years,” according to a search warrant.
“Alexander explained that there has never been anything physical occur, just constant verbal abuse about little things like dishes left in the sink and the homework is not completed,” a detective wrote elsewhere in the warrant.
The authorities say that the son told him that he and the father was alone in the house at the time. The son said that his father was with the belt around his neck, and the 60-pound (27-kilogram) dog was still connected and “freaking out”, according to a search warrant. The son said that he removed the leash from his father’s neck to check for a pulse.
The boy’s mother, who lived elsewhere, soon came and told officers her son had called her to say that he had discovered that his father in the basement.
An autopsy later determined that William Bishop had died of murder by strangulation with ligature marks around his neck.
The detective also sought warrants to search Alexander Bishop school locker on a private school, as well as the servers that host school-e-mail address.
Bishop and his ex-wife, Sharon, had been separated since the end of 2016. They were married in 1998 in Florida, where the Bishop had worked as a leading developer.
A lawyer of the ex-wife did not immediately respond to a message Friday night seeking comment.
The couple has two boys, about a year apart in age. William Bishop was granted permanent custody in 2017, according to the court documents.
The bishop was a well-known developer in Florida’s Hillsborough County, where he is credited with creating a number of master-planned or gated communities, according to a Tampa Bay Times obituary. The newspaper said he moved to North Carolina in 2008 to pursue an advanced degree.
The father of the girlfriend told researchers that the Bishop kept $50,000 in gold and expensive jewellery in a safe located in the vicinity of the theater room, according to the test documents.
An investigation of the son of the mobile phone revealed that he had sought about the value of the gold, how to calculate the value of an estate and how the transfer of the bank accounts after a death, according to a warrant.
The warrant, signed by Detective T. Huelsman stated: “These searches and websites that explain a possible motive for Alexander Bishop to kill his father.”
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