Molly Bish was 16 years old in 2000 when she began working as a lifeguard in her hometown of Warren, Massachusetts. Bish spent that summer hanging out with friends, dividing her time between her work and her social life. On June 26, Molly’s mother, Magi Bish, noticed a white car parked near the beach of the pond Molly worked at as a lifeguard. Magi would later describe the man as “suspicious,” but thought nothing of him at the time.
On June 27, 2000, Magi dropped her daughter off at Comins Pond for her shift and didn’t see the white car or the suspicious man nearby. Others near the pond that day would later tell investigators that they saw a white sedan parked at a nearby cemetery. Others described a man with a mustache hanging around the pond, asking about Molly, who matched the description given by Magi.
Hours after she dropped her daughter off, Magi Bish received a phone call from the police. They informed her that no lifeguard had been on duty at the pond that day, and Molly’s belongings were found near the lifeguard post, unattended. The 16-year-old girl was missing, and the police had no leads. No one had gotten the white car’s plates, and descriptions of the suspect didn’t help police make any concrete progress with the case.
The case made national headlines, with several American unsolved mystery programs covering the disappearance. For years, Molly’s case was a high-profile story, spurring the largest search in Massachusetts history. Police searched the surrounding area for the girl exhaustively, turning up nothing for years.
Molly Bish’s remains were discovered in the woods five miles from her home on June 9, 2003. The area was searched thoroughly after a hunter in the area found a discarded blue bathing suit matching the one Molly was last seen wearing. The case went cold there for nearly two decades.
A possible suspect in the case has been identified, 21 years after Molly’s tragic disappearance and death. A man named Frank Sumner, Sr., who passed away in 2016, has been noted to look remarkably similar to police composite sketches made from Magi’s descriptions of the suspicious man she saw in the Summer of 2000.
Police were given an anonymous tip about Sumner on June 3, 2021, and reopened the case to compare Sumner to the composite sketches. Like the man Magi saw, Sumner was a left-handed smoker. And, sadly, Sumner was a convicted sex offender who was found guilty of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a young woman.
While police don’t have enough evidence to say for certain that Sumner truly did abduct and murder Molly Bish 21 years ago, it’s a compelling theory. For their own part, Molly’s family has noted that photos of Sumner look very similar to the man they’ve long suspected kidnapped Molly over two decades ago. Sadly, with Sumner’s passing in 2016, it’s unclear whether the family will ever have closure regarding Molly’s disappearance.