Saturday, September 22, 2018
Public safety

Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

After a prominent Hillsborough County developer died last month in North Carolina, word spread it was a heart attack that claimed his life.

But records from that state show the death of William "Bill" Bishop was much more complicated.

His 16-year-old son reported finding Bishop in their home April 18 with a dog leash wrapped around his neck, the dog still attached, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Durham, N.C.

Police there are investigating Bishop’s death as suspicious.

No charges have been filed. Several dog leashes were removed from the home, along with a computer and an iPhone belonging to Bishop’s son.

Bishop, 59, who helped develop several walkable suburban neighborhoods in Hillsborough County, including Westchase, had lived in Durham for several years. He was set to graduate this month with a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina.

His ex-wife, Sharon, told the Tampa Bay Times in April that Bishop died of a heart attack.

But an April 30 medical examiner report said Bishop had been strangled. Police noted ligature marks on his neck.

EPILOGUE: Dveloper Bill Bishop created ‘walkable communities’

Alexander Bishop, the son, called 911 just after 6 p.m. to report his father was unconscious and had no pulse, the document states.

Firefighters and paramedics arrived and found Bill Bishop slouched in a leather chair in a theater room. The boy and his father were the only ones home.

Bishop died at a hospital three days later.

The leash was not on his neck when first responders arrived, according to the affidavit.

But the teen told a firefighter the looped handle had been pulled all the way up his father’s right arm to the shoulder, the record said. He said the leash was wrapped around his father’s neck three times, with the other end still attached to the dog.

He said the dog was upset, and he removed the leash to check his father’s pulse, the document states. He noted that his father had recently been divorced and was having trouble with his new girlfriend.

The son told an EMS supervisor and police that his father had been emotionally abusive to him and his mother and he was "relieved that his father was gone."

"Alexander also told officers that he was extremely fearful for what his father would do if he survived," a detective wrote.

After his initial account, the teen was "brief and unclear" about the leash’s position, the document states. The firefighter opined that Alexander Bishop was "not acting as suspected if he had just found his father in this condition."

If the leash was on Bishop’s right arm, that raised a question.

Bishop had lost the use of his right arm after an accident several years ago, police learned.

Last month, Sharon Bishop told the Times her ex-husband severed the humerus off his right shoulder in 2011 while attending a Utah fitness boot camp.

Police attempted to interview Sharon Bishop, who is Alexander’s mother. She and Bishop were divorced April 6, according to Durham County records.

She agreed to be interviewed, as did his girlfriend, Julie Seel, the affidavit states.

But on May 2, Seel told detectives that she, Sharon Bishop and Alexander Bishop would not speak to them unless they were legally required to do so. That day, police obtained a warrant to search Bill Bishop’s home.

Tim Pulliam, a television reporter for WTVD-Ch. 11 in Durham, obtained a copy of the search warrant and reported on the death investigation late Tuesday, discovering the Tampa Bay Times obituary in which Sharon Bishop described the death as a heart attack.

Sharon Bishop did not return calls for comment Wednesday. Seel asked for privacy.

A Durham Police Department spokesman said Bishop’s death remains under investigation.

News of the bizarre circumstances was a surprise to Ed Turanchik, Bishop’s former business partner and a Tampa mayoral candidate. He, too, had heard that his friend died of a heart attack. He said he had spoken with Sharon Bishop about a possible memorial service in Tampa.

"Bill adored his two sons," Turanchik said. "I think Bill and Sharon were both happy to be moving on with their respective lives."

Another friend, Diane Egner, editor of the online 83 Degrees publication, said she had been aware of the investigation, but declined to talk about it.

"I was as shocked as you and probably everyone else was," she said. "I’m just waiting for the police investigation to move forward."

Times senior news researcher John Martin and staff writer Paul Guzzo contributed to this report. Contact Dan Sullivan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.

 
Comments
Pinellas Park man killed in rollover crash near Feather Sound

Pinellas Park man killed in rollover crash near Feather Sound

ST. PETERSBURG — A 47-year-old Pinellas Park man died Friday night after his pickup truck veered into oncoming traffic, rolled over and ejected him, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Troopers said the crash took place at 7:15 p.m. at Feather So...
Updated: 4 hours ago
FHP: He stopped to help — then another driver killed him and stole his car

FHP: He stopped to help — then another driver killed him and stole his car

ST. PETERSBURG — An act of kindness ended tragically when the body of a missing motorist was found Friday more than 15 hours after he pulled over on the side of Interstate 275 to assist another driver.Dhimitri Andoni, 22, of Clearwater was driving no...
Published: 09/21/18
Fatal Friday night crash closes lanes on Ulmerton Road

Fatal Friday night crash closes lanes on Ulmerton Road

ST. PETERSBURG — A fatal traffic crash occurred at about 7:15 p.m. Friday at the intersection of Ulmerton Road and Carillon Parkway, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash closed all westbound lanes of Ulmerton Road.No additional informati...
Published: 09/21/18
Deputies seek two men wanted in sexual battery at Tampa motel

Deputies seek two men wanted in sexual battery at Tampa motel

TAMPA — Deputies are asking for the public’s help to identify two men they believe committed a sexual battery on Sept. 15 near an east Tampa hotel.The attack took place inside a vehicle at the Quality Inn & Suites at 10007 Princess Palm Ave., accordi...
Published: 09/21/18
Sheriff: Pinellas deputy fired for alerting inmate about cell search

Sheriff: Pinellas deputy fired for alerting inmate about cell search

A Pinellas County detention deputy was terminated on Friday for revealing confidential information about a scheduled search of jail cells for weapons and other contraband, said Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.Detention deputy Michelle Parsons, 48, adm...
Published: 09/21/18
'Divorce Court' woman accused of sex with boy, 15; he says he may have fathered her newborn

'Divorce Court' woman accused of sex with boy, 15; he says he may have fathered her newborn

HUDSON — A 26-year-old woman has been charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious battery after a 15-year-old boy told deputies he could be father of her newborn child, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said. The boy, who has not been nam...
Published: 09/21/18
Deputies: Spring Hill man set fire to ex-girlfriend’s home in July

Deputies: Spring Hill man set fire to ex-girlfriend’s home in July

SPRING HILL — A 27-year-old man was arrested Thursday in connection with a July building fire, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Christopher Lamar Jamison of Spring Hill faces 10 counts of attempted murder and charges of arson and agg...
Published: 09/21/18
Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir paid hundreds of thousands dollars for drugs, federal court records show

Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir paid hundreds of thousands dollars for drugs, federal court records show

Robert Butler III, an heir to a well-known local flooring chain that bears his father’s name, participated in a money laundering scheme and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for cocaine and marijuana in recent years, according to federal court re...
Published: 09/21/18
St. Petersburg woman jumps from moving Uber to avoid kidnapping in Tallahassee

St. Petersburg woman jumps from moving Uber to avoid kidnapping in Tallahassee

It had been about 25 minutes since they passed her drop-off. So, realizing the driver wasn’t going to let her out, 19-year-old Brooke Adkins rolled down the window of the moving car and jumped.Police found her minutes later in a Tallahassee Wa...
Published: 09/21/18
After record-setting day in Tampa, last day of summer brings more stifling heat

After record-setting day in Tampa, last day of summer brings more stifling heat

Weather in Tampa on Thursday took one step above the previous record high, then another for good measure.The high temperature in Tampa reached 96 degrees Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. That beat the old record of 94 by two degre...
Published: 09/21/18