Teen son of former Hillsborough developer charged with father's murder in North Carolina

Bill Bishop died by strangulation last April at his home in North Carolina. A grand jury there has indicted his 16-year-old son on a murder charge.
William Bishop (second from left) appears in this photo with sons Jefferson (left), Alexander, and his ex-wife, Sharon. Bishop, 59, a prominent developer of several Hillsborough County neighborhoods, died last month in North Carolina. Police said his death is suspicious and that he was strangled. [Facebook]
William Bishop (second from left) appears in this photo with sons Jefferson (left), Alexander, and his ex-wife, Sharon. Bishop, 59, a prominent developer of several Hillsborough County neighborhoods, died last month in North Carolina. Police said his death is suspicious and that he was strangled. [Facebook]
Published February 22
Updated February 22

A North Carolina grand jury on Friday indicted a 16-year-old teen for the murder of his father, a well-connected Hillsborough County developer who died last year.

Alexander Bishop, 16, was jailed in Durham, N.C, on allegations that he killed his father, William "Bill" Bishop.

Bill Bishop, 59, was well-known and politically-connected in Hillsborough County. He was instrumental in the development of several walk-able suburban neighborhoods, including Westchase and FishHawk Ranch. He had lived with his family in Durham in recent years, and was close to obtaining a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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

On April 18, Alexander Bishop called 911 from their Durham home. Paramedics arrived to find the teen's father unconscious in a recliner in the home's theater room. There were ligature marks around his neck.

Alexander Bishop told a firefighter he'd found him with a dog leash wrapped around his neck and the dog still attached, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Durham. The teen claimed the looped handle was pull all the way up to his father's right shoulder and that the leash was wrapped around his father's neck three times.

As the emergency personnel worked on Bill Bishop, the teen claimed his father had been emotionally abusive to him and his mother. He expressed that he “was relieved his father was gone,” the document stated.

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

Bill Bishop died three days later at a hospital. The death was deemed to be a “homicide by strangulation.”

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Report offers new details in N.C. death probe of Hillsborough developer

Bishop and his wife, Sharon, divorced shortly before his death. Local news outlets in North Carolina reported that she had sought court-ordered protection from him in 2010. In court records, she described fits of rage and threats to kill family members, reported the Durham Herald Sun. She also claimed her husband had started carrying a loaded gun around, and telling the boys it was “so mommy won’t call the police on me again.”

Police attempted to interview Sharon Bishop, who is Alexander Bishop's mother.

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

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.

The Herald Sun reported that police found a safe inside the Bishop home said to contain $50,000 in gold and $75,000 in jewelry. An examination of the son’s phone showed he searched for financial information, how to calculate the value of an estate, the value of gold, and how to transfer bank accounts after death, the paper reported.

Contact Dan Sullivan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.

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