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Arthur Gary Bishop

Mugshot of Arthur Bishop
Background information
Birth name: Arthur Gary Bishop
Also known as: Roger W. Downs
Born: Between January 1 to June 10, 1951
Hinckley, Utah, USA
Died: June 10, 1988 (aged 37)
Cause of death: Execution by lethal injection
Conviction: Embezzlement
Sentence: Death
Number of victims: 5
Span of killings: October 14, 1979 – July 14, 1983
Country: United States
State(s): Utah
Date apprehended: July 24, 1983

Arthur Gary Bishop (Between January 1 to June 10, 1951 – June 10, 1988) was a convicted American child molester, paedophile and serial killer. He confessed to the murders of five young boys in 1983, as a result of a routine police investigation.


Early life

Arthur Gary Bishop was born in Hinckley, Utah, in 1951, the elder of two brothers. Bishop was raised as a devout Mormon, and was an Eagle Scout an and honor student.[1] In his eighteenth year, Bishop served as a missionary in the Philippines.

Bishop was arrested for embezzlement in February, 1978[2] and given a five-year suspended sentence, but he skipped his parole and fled to Salt Lake City, living under the alias "Roger Downs". In October, 1978, the Mormon Church excommunicated Bishop.

In Salt Lake City, Bishop, registering under his pseudonym, joined the "Big Brother" program. No one initially suspected "Downs" of pedophilia, although dozens of children would accuse him of abuse after he was arrested for murder.


Bishop killed his first victim; a four-year-old named Alonzo Daniels, on October 14, 1979. Daniels was lured by Bishop from the courtyard of his apartment complex to his own apartment with the promise of free candy.[3] After attempting to assault the youngster, Bishop drowned the child in a bathtub, and subsequently buried the boy's body in the desert.

Bishop was filled with a mixture of emotions upon having committed his first murder: revulsion, fear and excitement. He attempted to satiate his urges to commit further murders by spending months in between victims torturing and killing animals.

In November, 1980, Bishop killed for the second time. At a skating rink, he met an eleven-year-old boy named Kim Peterson who he lured to his apartment on the pretext of buying a pair of roller-skates the boy was trying to sell. Witnesses described the man Peterson had talked with at the roller-skating rink the day prior to his disappearance as being white, aged 25-35, around 200 pounds and with dark hair.[4] Bishop bludgeoned Peterson to death and his body buried close to that of Alonzo Daniels outside of Cedar Fort. Bishop was again routinely questioned, but was not considered a suspect in Peterson's disappearance.

On October 20, 1981, Bishop killed for the third time; luring a four-year-old named Danny Davis from a supermarket to his home half a block away. Several shoppers recalled a smiling man standing near the child, but could only give vague descriptions as to his appearance. Police launched one of the biggest searches in Salt Lake County history:[5] teams of searchers scoured neighborhoods, searching fields and nearby mountains, divers dredged ponds and lakes, shoppers at the supermarket where Davis vanished agreed to undergo hypnosis in an effort to dislodge greater details of the abductor, fliers were also printed offering a $20,000 reward and the FBI were contacted but were unable to find any trace of the boy.

Almost two years later, on June 23, 1983, Bishop struck again, abducting a boy named Troy Ward from a park near his home the day after his sixth birthday.[6] Troy was seen leaving the park on foot with a man just prior to 4 p.m. As with the the prior victims, Ward was molested, bludgeoned and drowned in his bathtub.

Just one month later, on July 14, Bishop killed his final victim: thirteen-year-old Graeme Cunningham. Cunningham vanished from his neighbourhood prior to embarking upon a camping trip with a friend and an adult chaperone: one Arthur Bishop. Cunningham's disappearance was statewide news.

Local police looked into their past reports and found that Bishop ("Roger Downs") lived in the vicinity of four of the murders, and knew the fifth child's parents. Police brought "Downs" in for questioning on the pretext of him assisting officers with their enquiries into Cunningham's disappearance. At the station, police managed to obtain Downs' real name, and eventually got him to confess to all five murders.

The next day, Bishop led the police to three skeletons near Cedar Fort and two more recent corpses near Big Cottonwood Creek. Bishop told police he obtained a thrill from the act of murder, stating: "I'd do it again."[7]

Trial and execution

Bishop was brought to trial on February 27, 1984.[8] During his trial, Bishop claimed that an addiction to child pornography molded his violent sexual fantasies and eventually drove him to act them out. The trial lasted six weeks; on March 19, 1984,[9] Bishop was found guilty of five counts of aggravated murder, five counts of aggravated kidnapping, and one count of sexually abusing a minor, and sentenced to death. Upon receiving his sentence, Bishop apologized to his victims' families[10] and made a request to be executed by lethal injection.

After his conviction he wrote in his letter,[11]

Pornography was a determining factor in my downfall. Somehow I became sexually attracted to young boys and I would fantasize about them naked. Certain bookstores offered sex education, photographic, or art books which occasionally contained pictures of nude boys. I purchased such books and used them to enhance my masturbatory fantasies... Finding and procuring sexually arousing materials became an obsession. For me, seeing pornography was lighting a fuse on a stick of dynamite. I became stimulated and had to gratify my urges or explode. All boys became mere sexual objects. My conscience was desensitized and my sexual appetite entirely controlled my actions.

Bishop was executed by lethal injection at Utah State Prison in Point of the Mountain on June 10, 1988. Prior to his execution, he again expressed remorse for his crimes.[12]


  • Alonzo Daniels, age 4, October 14, 1979
  • Kim Peterson, age 11, November 8, 1980
  • Danny Davis, age 4, October 20, 1981
  • Troy Ward, age 6, June 23, 1983
  • Graeme Cunningham, age 13, July 14, 1983


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