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He Was Accused Of Murdering His Entire Family - But Did He Do It?

Robert William Fisher has been a member of the FBI's most wanted fugitive list since 2002. A year prior, Robert's family—including his wife, Mary, daughter, Brittney, and son Bobby—had all been violently murdered and their home set ablaze. And yet, despite the familial carnage and destruction taking place in the Fisher household, Robert was nowhere to be found.

Fisher was never found after the tragedy, and no concrete evidence of him has been found in the years after his family were killed and his home collapsed in an intentional explosion. 

Consensus is that Robert was the person responsible for the devastation inflicted upon his family, but what's the whole story? Did he kill his family and escape to live a life in the woods? Or was he actually a target, escaping to avoid being framed for a crime he did not commit? To phrase it simply: did Robert William Fisher really kill his family?

The Fisher Family Murder

Unsplash | Jen Theodore

On April 9, 2001 an argument was heard from the Fisher home, however no signs of any violence were present at this time. At 10:43 pm that night, Robert was seen via an ATM camera as he took out $280. In the footage, his wife's car can be seen.

At 8:42 am the next morning, the Fisher house burst in a fiery explosion. Firefighters were immediately called to battle the 20-foot-high fire, in a desperate bid to prevent it from spreading to neighboring houses. A number of later, smaller explosions also occurred inside the house, which were believed to have been caused by rifle ammo or cans of paint.

Investigation revealed that Mary Fisher had been shot in the back of her head. Bobby and Brittney had each had their throats cut. Their bodies were found in a bed together within the smouldering rubble.

It was discovered that the gas line from the Fisher's furnace had been pulled. Gas had been building in the home, which is believed to have then been lit by Robert several hours earlier. This makeshift delay would have given the perpetrator a significant amount of time to escape. 


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The Potential Motive 

Fisher's family life was reportedly far from perfect. Always willing to present himself with an aura of Christian family-values, Robert was known as something of an abusive partner and over-bearing father. This is just but one detail that incriminates him, and the further one delves into the details of the Fisher household, the less favourable Robert's possible innocence becomes.

'Strife' is but one word to describe the seemingly crumbling state of Robert's and Mary's relationship. The two married in 1987, making them husband and wife for just under 15 years before Mary's death. The couple were said to have argued frequently, mostly about issues surrounding money, as well as their sex lives. 

Robert had admitted to having engaged in an affair with a woman he had met at a massage parlour, from which he contracted a UTI. Tensions seemed to reach a boiling point between the couple, and it's believed that before the fire their inevitable divorce was looming near.

Fisher had experience a painful divorce as a child, and apparently loathed the idea of his own divorce. People have theorized that the murders were motivated by Fisher's obsession to avoid divorce at all costs.

Capable Of The Act?

Throughout his life, Robert was not an individual who was unfamiliar with callous and even violent behaviour.

In a disturbing memory, one of Robert's hunting pals, Sandy Gillespie, recalled how Robert had thrown his two children off a boat in attempt to teach them to swim. Fisher was apparently disgruntled at the fact that his son was not an avid huntsman like himself. Of the incident, Gillespie said, " They were crying, and Brittney was screaming, and he pulled them back in the boat and he said, 'Now there, how's that?'".

One Scottsdale police officer wrote: "Robert was an ultra-control freak. He said he would tell the kids what time to get up, what time to go to bed, what clothes to wear, what to eat."

As a keen outdoorsman from a young age, Robert was familiar with guns. While hunting does not mean a person is destined to enact violence on human targets, friends of Robert noticed odd behaviour during hunting trips. In one incident, Robert killed an elk and proceeded to smear its blood over himself. Robert also on one occasion snuck up to a family having a picnic and intentionally shot his gun into the air, presumably to frighten them.

Seemingly capable of violence, Robert also had knowledge that would prove to be specifically useful to the person responsible for his family's murder. For one, Robert was a firefighter. Because of this it is safe to assume he had an above-standard knowledge of how to actively cause a dangerous fire in his home. He also worked multiple jobs in the medical field, namely as a surgical catheter technician and respiratory therapist. These positions, as well as his penchant for hunting, would have presumably given Robert knowledge of where to best strike when aiming to kill a person or animal.

Holes In the Story

Unsplash | Esri Esri

When considering the evidence, there are a number of possible questions that investigators have raised in regards to the Fisher case. 

While arson as a means of murder would line up with Robert's experience as a firefighter, some have argued that it is actually less incriminating. Robert would seemingly be aware that investigators would realize he was not in the fire, due to a lack of human remains. It seems foolish that Robert would then choose this method, if he knew this to be true.

Some have even tried to suggest that Robert may have been framed in such a way that he would become a prime suspect, and that he fled to avoid prison.

The Conclusion

The conclusion seems obvious. The preparations made to the Fisher home, combined with Robert's past behaviour and his disappearance are all far too incriminating to be ignored. Fisher, in all likelihood, was responsible for the murders.

While some cases are questionable or unsolved entirely, the case of Robert William Fisher is practically clear cut, albeit for his continued disappearance. Perhaps one day Robert will be found and perhaps we will have a clearer idea of what happened that day. Until then, it seems that the responsibility for the crimes will lie on his shoulders.

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