PHOENIX, Ariz. (KGUN) — Investigators say twenty years ago a Scottsdale man, killed his wife and children—exploded their house—and seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth. But Scottsdale Police—and the FBI have not stopped trying to find Robert Fisher.
“This case is unique, just in the heinousness of it and in the vicious manner that it happened.”
Scottsdale Police Detective John Heinzelman is hunting someone part of the world saw as a man devoted to his family and his church. Heinzelman knows Robert Fisher as a man who shot his wife and slit her throat, slit the throats of his son and daughter, then rigged their house to explode.
He says, “We found evidence to suggest that the gas line to the furnace was disconnected, allowing the house to fill with gas, and that, in at least in one location a candle was placed. The theory is that the candle was placed and as the house filled with gas that the explosion would take place or the fire would take place at that point.”
At first, investigators thought the fire was an accident and they would find Robert Fisher’s body along with his family. But when the debris cooled and investigators could enter the house they found Robert Fisher was missing. He’s still missing twenty years later.
Investigators don’t know if the killings were coldly planned in advance or if they were a brutal burst of anger.
One theory is Mary Fisher was considering divorce and because Robert was scarred by his parents’ divorce he might decide death was a better fate for his own children.
Detective Heinzelman says, “So that became a prevailing theory is that the possibility that Mary had suggested we divorced and he said, more or less, “Not over my dead body is that going to happen.’ ”
Heinzelman says that’s simply a theory, never confirmed.
Fisher got $280 from an ATM the night before the murders. His dog and his wife’s car were found abandoned well north of Scottsdale in the Tonto National Forest.
The horror of the killings and how dangerous Fisher could be quickly landed him on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List. The FBI has modified pictures of Fisher to suggest how he might look 20 years later. Special Agent Taylor Hannah takes a hard look at the hard evidence and strives to understand a fugitive’s mind and where it might take him.
“So, there were you know conflicting stories out there that maybe he’s been out there as a survivalist this whole time camping somewhere, or maybe he had help along the way. Maybe there were people involved that we don’t know about yet that helped him escape and have helped hide him over the years.”
The nagging question is whether Robert Fisher killed himself long ago and his remains were never found.
Agent Hannah says, “The thing is, today we don’t have any evidence that he committed suicide and then he’s dead so I still work under the assumption that he could still be out there and that we could find him. At the same time though there’s not much evidence now that he’s alive.”
Agent Hannah says the FBI has found fugitives even after they spent many years on the run and she and Detective Heinzelman say if Robert Fisher is alive, the years have done nothing to dial down the danger.
Heinzelman says, “If a person is capable of doing what, Robert Fisher did to his wife and children. He is 100% a danger to anybody, and especially if this is the case if he is out there now. He’s done a good job to evade law enforcement and to evade even identification. I think there’s no, there’s nothing that he wouldn’t that he wouldn’t do to remain free.”
This story was originally published on Mar 28, 2021, by Craig Smith, KGUN in Phoenix, Ariz.