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Robert William FISHER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Arson
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: April 10, 2001
Date of arrest: Remains at large
Date of birth: April 13, 1961
Victims profile: His wife Mary Fisher, 38, and her two children, Brittney Fisher, 12, and Robert "Bobby" William Fisher, Jr., 10
Method of murder: Shooting - Cutting their throats
Location: Young, Arizona, USA
Status: Remains at large
 
 

 
 
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Shortly before 9am on Tuesday April 10, 2001 an explosion tore through a south Scottsdale house. In the ruins of the house police found the family of Robert Fisher and quickly deduced that his wife and two kids had been killed prior to the explosion. Fisher was named a suspect in a triple homicide.

Robert’s wife, his 10-year-old, and his 12-year-old, had likely died from having their throats slashed before the fire.

Shortly after the crime the Fisher’s SUV and Robert’s dog were found in northeastern Arizona near Payson. Fisher was not.

Robert Fisher was added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List on June 29, 2002. Police believe Fisher called America’s Most Wanted Program in August, 2001 from Chester, VA.


Robert William Fisher (born April 13, 1961) is a wanted fugitive suspected of murdering his wife and their two children. On June 29, 2002 he was named by the FBI as the 475th fugitive to be placed on the list of FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. He currently remains at large.

Fisher has been selected by America's Most Wanted host John Walsh as the program's Public Enemy Number One.

Early life

Fisher was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1961 to William Fisher, a banker, and Jan Howell. Fisher has two sisters and he attended Sahuaro High School in Tucson. Fisher's parents divorced in 1976, when he was 15. According to friends and relatives the divorce was extremely difficult, leaving long-lasting effect to Robert, who still talked about the split with co-workers at Mayo Clinic Hospital. Fisher confided to one associate that his life could have been different if his mother hadn't left the family.

Family life

Robert Fisher, a Navy veteran, married Mary Cooper in 1987. Fisher has worked as a surgical catheter technician, respiratory therapist and firefighter, and is an avid outdoorsman, hunter, and fisherman. Fisher was described as a cruel and distant control freak of a father who was awkward with his children, but tried to hold on to an image as a devoted family man. His mother-in-law, Ginny Cooper, told investigators that "Fisher didn't socialize often with family because of a fear of getting too close to people and losing them."

Fisher's mother told investigators that she had been a "yes-sir" wife who didn't stand up to her husband. She added that she saw similar dynamics early in her son's marriage to Mary, and had talked to her daughter-in-law about her concerns. One close friend of Robert Fisher stated that his family resembled Fisher's childhood family.

Marital troubles

Fisher had been an active member of the Scottsdale Baptist Church's men's ministry, but unlike Mary, he had begun to withdraw from his church's activities a few months prior the murders.

In 1998, the Fishers went to their church's senior pastor for marital counseling. Fisher told co-workers about a one-night affair with a prostitute he met in a massage parlor. He fretted that his wife would find out that it was the cause of a urinary tract infection that left him ill for several days in December 2000.

Fisher told a hunting mate that he was renewing his commitment to his faith and his marriage because he "could not live without his family", possibly hinting that he would consider suicide over divorce. According to psychologists, an intense fear of loss is not unusual for an individual traumatized by divorce while an adolescent.

In the weeks before her death, Mary Fisher told several friends she was going to divorce her husband. According to a neighbor of Fisher family, the couple had a loud argument on April 9, at 10:30, approximately ten hours before the house blew up in an explosion.

Triple murder and arson

On the morning of April 10, 2001, Mary Fisher was shot in the back of the head and her children's throats were slashed from ear to ear in the hours before their home exploded.

Firefighters were immediately alerted due to a natural gas explosion and fire in a Scottsdale house. The explosion ripped through the ranch-style house in the 2000 block of North 74th Place at 8:42 a.m. The blast appeared to be centered in the living room, and the subsequent fire burned the house into rubble. The initial explosion was strong enough to collapse the front brick wall and rattle the frames of neighboring houses for a half-mile in all directions.

Rural/Metro Fire Department firefighters were on the scene within minutes and kept the 20-foot-high blaze from spreading to neighboring houses. A series of smaller secondary explosions, believed to be either rifle ammunition or paint cans going up, forced firefighters to keep their distance. One firefighter suffered minor injuries to his leg when he lost his balance and fell near the burning house.

Evidence of the homicide had allegedly been tried to be concealed by pulling out the gas line from the back of the home's furnace. The accumulating gas was later ignited by an ignition source, possibly the pilot light on the water heater. Burned bodies of a woman and two children were found lying in bed in the remains of the house.

The victims were identified as Mary Fisher (aged 38), and her two children, Brittney Fisher (aged 12) and Robert "Bobby" William Fisher, Jr. (aged 10). Investigators have considered that Robert Fisher murdered his family because he felt threatened with his wife's intent to divorce. Despite their marital difficulties, he vowed that his marriage would never dissolve.

Investigation

On April 14, Robert William Fisher, who disappeared at the time of murders, was named as an official (and to date only) suspect of the case on April 14, 2001 when Arizona Department of Public Safety officers were instructed in a statewide bulletin to arrest him.

On April 20, the last physical evidence of Fisher's whereabouts surfaced, when police found his Toyota 4Runner and dog "Blue" in Tonto National Forest, a hundred miles north of Scottsdale.

On July 19, 2001, an Arizona Superior Court state arrest warrant was issued at Phoenix, charging Fisher with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson. Subsequently, Fisher was declared a fugitive, and a federal arrest warrant was issued by the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, charging him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

On June 29, 2002, he was named by the FBI as the 475th fugitive to be placed on the Ten Most Wanted list. He is also on the America's Most Wanted "Dirty Dozen" list of that show's most notorious fugitives. The FBI offers a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to his capture.

As of April 2003, FBI had received "hundreds and hundreds of leads". However, all sightings of Fisher have been inconclusive or false.

In February 2004, an individual with a striking physical resemblance to Robert Fisher was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Fingerprints eventually confirmed that the man was not Fisher. He was held by Canadian police for approximately one week until a family member correctly identified him.

Fisher is considered armed and extremely dangerous and has ties to Florida and New Mexico. He has been speculated to have committed suicide or started a new life under an assumed identity. Fisher has been described as a loner and is thought to live alone in an isolated area.

Wikipedia.org


Robert William Fisher

Robert William Fisher is Wanted by the FBI

By Judy Hedding, About.com

April 9, 2001 was the last time anyone saw Robert William Fisher. On April 10, 2001 he killed his wife and children and fled. But Scottsdale, Arizona Police and Phoenix FBI Special Agents still believe that he is alive.

Here are the facts of the case:

  • Robert Fisher was a Respiratory Therapist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale.

  • Robert Fisher's home exploded into flames on April 10, 2001.

  • Robert Fisher was married to Mary Jean, and had two children. Brittney was 12 and Bobby Jr. was 10. His wife and two children's throats were slashed prior to the start of the fire.

  • After the crime, Robert Fisher fled to northeastern Arizona near Payson with his dog. The dog and the SUV were later found, but Robert Fisher was not.

  • A Grand Jury in Arizona has indicted Robert Fisher for three counts of murder and one count of arson.

  • Robert Fisher had no prior criminal history.

  • Robert Fisher has a bad back and may need pain medication. He has scars on his lower back from surgery. Because of this surgery, he may walk with an exaggerated erect posture and his chest pushed out.

  • Robert Fisher has a gold crown on his upper left first bicuspid tooth.

  • Robert Fisher chews tobacco.

  • Robert Fisher is an avid hunter and fisherman. He is believed to be armed and dangerous.

  • There have been over 300 unconfirmed sightings of Robert Fisher.

  • He was born on April 13, 1961, has blue eyes, brown hair and is six feet tall.

Here is some speculation revolving around the case:

  • Robert Fisher may have been having an affair with a woman that worked with him.

  • It is assumed that he has changed his appearance, possibly by growing his hair or adding facial hair.

  • Scottsdale Police believes that a caller to the America's Most Wanted Program in August 2001 was Fisher. The call was made from Chester, VA. The case has appeared twice on America's Most Wanted. It is likely that the story will be aired again and that it will also appear on Unsolved Mysteries.

  • The FBI believes that Fisher may be working in a medical position, or living in a small town with a menial job.

Robert William Fisher is now on the FBI's Top Ten Fugitive list. There is a reward offered if the information provided to the FBI leads directly to his arrest. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Robert William Fisher, you are urged to call the Scottsdale Police Department at (480) 312-2716 or the Phoenix FBI Office at (602) 279-5511.


Robert William Fisher

By Shanna Hogan

Timespublications.com

On April 9, 2001, Robert Fisher, a churchgoing father of two, had spent the day caring for patients at Scottsdale’s Mayo Clinic, where he worked as a respiratory therapist.

At the end of his shift, he picked up his 12-year-old daughter, Brittney, and drove her to the National Junior Honor Society induction ceremony where she was to be honored for her outstanding academic achievements. During the ceremony, Fisher grew impatient, and the two left before Brittney could collect her certificate.

Meanwhile, Fisher’s 38-year-old wife, Mary, had accompanied the couple’s 10-year-old son, Bobby, to a gun-safety class.

It is there that the known facts surrounding the final days of the Fisher family end.

The murderous rampage that followed devastated family and friends and left some of the nation’s top law-enforcement officials confounded – searching for shreds of evidence amid a tragic tale involving what outwardly appeared to be the all-American family.

When Mary returned home that evening, neighbors reported having heard the Fishers arguing loudly. In the predawn hours of the following morning, the family’s quaint three-bedroom south Scottsdale home suddenly erupted in a violent explosion so intense that it blew out portions of two brick walls and left the entire home engulfed in flames.

When the smoke cleared, firefighters made a grisly discovery among the charred remains: three bodies, each lying in a pool of blood.

The remains were identified as those of Mary and the two children. Authorities then confirmed that the three had not died in the fire, but shockingly had been the victims of a gruesome murder, all having had their throats slashed and Mary with a bullet lodged in the back of her head.

Mysteriously, Robert Fisher was nowhere to be found; police confirmed that a number of his possessions were missing, including clothing and his .38-caliber revolver.

Fire investigators would later learn that the explosion was caused when someone unhooked a gas line, placed a candle on a nearby table and poured fire accelerant down the hallway of the home.

Ten days later, police discovered Mary’s SUV on a dirt road about 150 miles north of the Valley, at a trailhead located in the Tonto National Forest. Curled up beneath the vehicle was Robert’s beloved dog, Blue, dehydrated and covered with pine needles.

Aside from periodic unconfirmed sightings of Fisher, the abandoned vehicle remains the last piece of evidence uncovered in the case.

Today, Robert Fisher, once a portrait of a churchgoing family man, remains the sole suspect in the murders and holds a place on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, his picture set beside the likes of terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Despite a long and intensive manhunt, what remains of one of the most notorious family murders in Arizona history is the enduring mystery surrounding what actually happened that April night. The past seven years have given rise to speculation among some about whether Robert Fisher is even still alive.

Those close to the Fisher family have all had to confront the fact that they had come to trust an evil man capable of an unthinkable crime against his own children. The Times interviewed several of those who had been close to the Fishers for this story, including the mother and father of Mary Fisher as well as FBI investigators still working on the case.

Did Robert Fisher Commit Suicide?

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s still out there,” says Bill Cooper, Mary’s father. “When you know it’s a cold case, that makes it even harder when you think about what he is doing out there. Is he remarried? Is he still living double lives? We just don’t know.”

In the days and weeks following the discovery of Mary’s SUV, there was suspicion that Fisher might have walked deep into the wilderness to commit suicide.

The forested area near Payson was searched for weeks in one of the state’s most intensive manhunts. Professional spelunkers from Tucson crawled through the area’s vast network of limestone caves, availing not one shred of physical evidence.

“I was thinking early on they would find some bones up there where they found his truck,” says Lori Greenbeck, a close friend of Mary’s and her former boss at H&L Medical Specialists in Scottsdale.

Over the years, Fisher’s disappearance and lack of any credible sightings have fueled speculation that he is dead, his remains having possibly been carried off by wild animals after a suicide.

Each year, there are about 30 to 50 cases of a spouse murdering their family – known as familicide to law enforcement. In over half the cases there is a suicide or attempted suicide following the murders, says Neil Websdale, a professor at the NAU Department of Criminal Justice and author of several books on domestic homicide.

“But most of the suicides occur at the scene or very close to the scene,” Websdale says. “It would be very unlikely that someone would take off and kill themselves in a remote location.”

With no hard evidence supporting Fisher’s death, law enforcement continues its search. FBI special agent Robert Caldwell says he believes Fisher is one of the nearly 200,000 U.S. fugitives living under a false name and that he is likely residing somewhere in the United States, Mexico or Canada.

“Some say he’s dead, but we don’t believe that he’s the type of guy who would kill himself,” Caldwell says. “He’s a very egocentric, very introverted person, so we really don’t believe he would do that.”

Outward Appearances

According to those who knew him best, on the surface, nothing about Robert Fisher made him seem like anything but a normal family man. An experienced outdoorsman, Fisher was an avid hunter and fisherman.

He had devoted himself to a career helping others, working as a respiratory therapist at the prestigious Mayo Clinic.ç

At home, Fisher was dedicated to his children.

“He loved his kids. He talked well about his family. He was well respected at his job,” says Adam Trahan, who worked with Fisher for several years at Scottsdale Healthcare’s Shea Hospital. Trahan describes Fisher as “just a normal guy.”

Robert Fisher grew up in Tucson. When he was 15, his parents divorced and his father, who worked at a bank, gained custody of Fisher and his two sisters.

After graduating from Sahuaro High School in 1979, he joined the Navy, serving as a Petty Officer on the San Diego-based USS Belleau Wood until 1982.

When he was discharged, Fisher became a firefighter in rural San Diego County.

Soon after, at a Baptist Church social group Fisher met a wholesome blonde named Mary Jean Cooper. Mary, born in Chicago, was deeply religious. She was very close to her family and considered becoming a mom one of her highest goals.

After marrying in 1987 the couple settled in south Scottsdale and purchased a home near Mary’s parents’ house in the 2200 block of North 74th Place for $80,000.

Their daughter, Brittney, was born a year later, followed by son, Bobby, in 1991. When the kids began attending school, Mary went back to work part time for a friend’s small medical company.

Mary was a loving and involved mom who frequently volunteered at the kids’ school.

“Mary loved those kids so much,” says Mary’s father, Bill Cooper. “Brittney and Bobby loved the Lord. Both kids were very spiritual.”

Brittney was very intelligent and studious, and despite a hectic school schedule, she remained active in sports, including basketball and soccer. Bobby, who was close to his big sister, enjoyed drawing and fishing with his father.

The Fisher family life revolved around church activities, camping, quad riding, hunting and fishing.

“They were a completely normal family,” says Mary’s friend Lori Greenbeck. “I can’t even say that Robert wasn’t normal. He wasn’t a bully, but he was the king of his castle. That was just their relationship.”

Even Bill Cooper remembers Robert as a dedicated father. “He’d come over for Thanksgiving and Christmas and whatnot, and you’d never know that anything was wrong,” he says.

Hunting for Fisher

According to officials, both local law enforcement and the FBI still receive almost daily calls and tips on reported sightings of Fisher.

Fox’s hit show America’s Most Wanted has featured segments on the case on 10 separate occasions, which has generated thousands of leads and tips.

Dozens of Robert Fisher look-a-likes have been reported, and Scottsdale police have even traveled as far as Canada in 2003 to fingerprint one Robert Fisher doppelganger.

“As time goes on, a fugitive’s ability to stay on the run gets better,” says Greg Howell, a producer for America’s Most Wanted. “The ones that are gone a long time are the ones who manage to get out of the country.”

Fisher was last seen captured in a surveillance photo on the night of the murders withdrawing $280 from the ATM machine at the Wells Fargo on Scottsdale and McDowell roads in Scottsdale. He was wearing an Oakland Raiders baseball cap and driving Mary’s silver 2000 Toyota 4-Runner. Police later found the baseball cap left inside the vehicle, though the other items missing from the home were never found, fueling speculation that Fisher likely fled the scene where the vehicle was found. A number of possibilities were suspected by police. One theorized that Fisher might have had an accomplice who transported him away from the site, though no physical evidence has ever supported that scenario. Another supposed that Fisher may have hitchhiked or obtained a ride that took him away from the scene.

“We know he didn’t walk away because the dog would have followed him,” Caldwell says. “There are a lot of different things that could have happened. But the dog stayed there, so obviously he was driven away.”

Despite many unanswered questions, law-enforcement officials remain certain that Fisher is still out there.

 “He’s probably working some menial job where people won’t pay much attention to him and he can get paid under the table,” says Caldwell. “He may be that guy who’s right around the corner from you that you never knew because he has changed his look enough.”

Double Life

Police say that beneath Fisher’s loving father facade was a cruel, controlling, violence-prone loner.

“There was definitely a Robert that absolutely nobody knew,” Greenbeck says. “She protected him. She didn’t want people to know what a jerk he was. She wanted everything to be as normal as possible for the kids.”

According to interviews with Mary’s friends, police say Fisher was very controlling of his wife and required her to ask his permission before participating in even the most routine of activities.

In the weeks leading up to the murders, police say Mary told several friends she had had enough and was going to divorce her husband. Based on their investigation, law-enforcement officials have concluded that due to events of his own childhood, divorce would never be an option for Fisher.

“He vowed that he would never get a divorce,” Caldwell says. “Robert had a big problem with divorce.”

Robert Fisher had a difficult time dealing with the divorce of his own parents, who parted ways when he was a teenager. Fisher had even refused to take his own children to Disneyland, the site of his parents’ last screaming fight.

By 2001, Robert and Mary’s 14-year marriage was in trouble. Fisher had had a one-night affair with a prostitute he had met at a massage parlor and had confided it to his pastor.

Though Mary never came out and actually told Greenbeck of the affair, Greenbeck says she thought something had happened. “I knew when he had cheated on her,” Greenbeck says. “She said there was some work Robert needed to do, but she said she was willing to work on it.”

According to friends, in early 2001 the couple appeared to be working things out. They were attending couples’ counseling at their church, and Robert had told a hunting buddy that he was renewing his commitment to his faith and his marriage.

However, at the time of the murders, it was believed that Mary had suspicions that Robert was having another affair.

“From my understanding she was getting ready to leave him again,” Caldwell says. “We’re theorizing that in his mind it was better off that the kids be dead rather than not be raised by him.”

It remains unknown whether it was the fear of divorce that was Robert’s real motive or perhaps something more sinister.

“It’s difficult to get inside his head,” says Greg Klein, creative producer for America’s Most Wanted. “Did he snap one day and kill his family? Or did he methodically plan the murders to go on to have a second life?”

Unanswered Questions

Mary’s parents, Bill and Ginny Cooper, say they may never know what actually happened the night of April 9, 2001.

Mary kept Robert’s dark side a secret, especially from them.

“We never knew a thing,” Bill Cooper says. “She didn’t want mommy and daddy to know anything she was going through. She just took care of those two precious kids.”

In fact, at first the family had a difficult time fathoming that Robert could have been responsible. They say they liked him and thought he was a good husband and son-in-law.

“I remember my first interview at the fire, I pleaded for Bob: ‘Where are you Robert? Please come home.’ We thought it was a break-in. We didn’t know what happened,” Bill Cooper recalls. “Until they started putting things together, then we realized what was really happening.”

Today the Coopers say they are certain Fisher is still out there somewhere and believe he might have started a new family.

Still, instead of focusing on his whereabouts and the tragedy, Mary’s parents choose to remember the good times, including the last dinner they shared with their daughter and the kids just two days before the murders.

In the Coopers’ memories and on the walls of their Scottsdale home, Brittney and Bobby remain eternal children.

 “Brittney, she was a super student. Some people might have called her a nerd until they found out she was a pretty good little jock too,” Bill Cooper says. “Bobby was just his own man; he was just a neat kid. He would have graduated this year. We just wonder what he would have been like.”

Robert William Fisher

DOB: April 13, 1961
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 190
Occupations: Surgical catheter technician, respiratory therapist, firefighter
Scars and marks: Fisher has surgical scars on his lower back.

Remarks: Fisher is physically fit and is an avid outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman. He has a noticeable gold crown on his upper left first bicuspid tooth. He may walk with an exaggerated erect posture and his chest pushed out due to a lower back injury. Fisher is known to chew tobacco heavily. He has ties to New Mexico and Florida. Fisher is believed to be in possession of several weapons, including a high-powered rifle.

Reward: The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to the arrest of Fisher.

What happened to Robert ?

Friends, family and law enforcement speculate on Fisher’s whereabouts.

Adam Trahan, Robert’s former co-worker

“I think if he is alive, one of the possibilities is in Sierra Madre, Mexico. It’s known for its lawlessness. He could hide in this area, very easily.”

Robert Caldwell, FBI special agent

Either he is still in the United States or has snuck into Mexico or Canada. “I personally believe by now he’s hooked up with somebody. The way he is, the way he was such a control freak with Mary, I’m sure he’s found companionship. If he did find it, it’s probably with a woman who he’s extremely controlling of.”

Greg Howell, America’s Most Wanted producer

“This guy has kind of vanished. (The police) feel he could be somewhere in the U.S. or possibly parts of Canada.”

Bill and Ginny Cooper, Mary’s parents

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s still out there,” says Bill Cooper. Mary’s mother, Ginny Cooper, believes Robert has likely remarried.

Skylar Robinson, psychic detective

Fisher is living under a different identity in Calallen, Texas, where he travels in and out of Mexico. “He lives in a trailer. He’s gotten a little too comfortable in this town. He’s not trying too hard to stay hidden.”

 

 

 
 
 
 
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