The case of Robert William Fisher is notorious – with Fisher allegedly killing his family, causing an explosion in their house, and then going on the run.
The circumstances of the disappearance resulted in an enormous manhunt, and Fisher spending almost two decades on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. However, what happened to Fisher is unknown.
This article reviews this case. There is a reader’s poll at the end of the article, which we hope you partake in. We will all be able to see what the consensus is among our readers as to what happened.
Robert William Fisher was born in April 1961 in the state of New York, United States. He moved to Arizona, after his parents divorced when he was aged 15.
Fisher served in the US Navy and would later work as a firefighter, before an injury resulted in his retirement. At the time of his disappearance, he worked at a hospital clinic as a technician.
Fisher married his wife Mary Cooper in 1987. It has been reported that their marriage was volatile, with Fisher allegedly abusing Mary both mentally and physically.
The couple had two children – Brittney and Bobby. Brittney was aged 12, and Bobby aged 10, at the time of the case.
The marriage was known to be unhappy, with neighbours reporting loud screaming on multiple occasions. Divorce had been mentioned on many occasions.
On 9th April 2001, one such argument was heard by a neighbour inside the Fisher household at approximately 10pm.
At some point around this time, a triple murder took place. It is believed that Fisher killed his wife and two children. Mary was shot in the back of her head, while Brittney and Bobby’s throats had been slashed.
At 08.42am the following morning, an enormous explosion engulfed the house. The explosion destroyed the house and caused some damage to the surrounding area.
Firefighters managed to get the blaze under control. Upon entering the remains of the house, three bodies were found. Mary, Brittney and Bobby were all tragically found dead.
However, there was no sign of Fisher. His body was not amongst the wreckage, nor was he found in the vicinity of his house. Fisher was never seen again.
The Police launched an investigation into the case. They were able to quickly find out about the cause of the fire, which they deemed to be intentional.
They found that the gas line from the house’s boiler had been pulled. This caused gas to accumulate. The Police believe that Fisher lit a candle, which would eventually cause an explosion when enough gas had accumulated.
Fisher was seen on camera at an ATM machine at 10:43pm that evening – the Police believed he had already committed the murders at this point.
Therefore, the Police theorised that Fisher would have had around 10 hours to escape before the explosion alerted the authorities.
Fisher was quick to be named as a person of interest in the murders. After speaking to those around the Fisher family and neighbours, they were able to piece together some of the story.
They believed that Fisher was threatened by Mary’s desire to divorce him. Meanwhile, investigators believed he also took the lives of his children to stop them from experiencing what he did as a child.
They believed that Fisher then went on the run. A large search took place for him. The 10 hours head start resulted in the Police struggling to find Fisher. In this time, he could easily have made it over the border to Mexico.
On 20th April, 100 miles away from the murder scene, Mary’s car was discovered abandoned. Investigators were sure that Fisher had been in the car.
The family dog was found in the car, which was in a state of distress. The same cap that Fisher had been wearing at the ATM machine was found. Moreover, human excrement was found in the car too.
After the car had been discovered, the Police searched the area, including the vast nearby Tonto National Forest. A particular place of interest to search were a nearby set of caves. However, Fisher was not found there.
Around one mile away from the car was the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. A man resembling Fisher was spotted by a couple walking towards the area a few days before the car was discovered.
Fisher was known to be aware of the area, due to past camping trips to the area. The Police searched the area, but again, there was no sign of Fisher.
A state arrest warrant was issued for Fisher, which charged him with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson. A federal arrest warrant followed.
Unfortunately, Fisher was never definitively seen again. The Police believed that he could have feasibly escaped from the United States. The Police kept the case open and continued to field enquiries.
As the months and then years went by, there continued to be no sign of Fisher. Unfortunately for his victims, Fisher was never brought to justice.
In June 2002, Fisher was placed on the FBIs Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. He continued to be on this list until 2021. Many fugitives on this list have been captured in the past.
In the years following the case, there were many apparent sightings of Fisher. None of these turned out to be accurate. These sightings have continued into more recent years too.
The case has been heavily featured in various TV shows, documentaries and podcasts. Fisher’s face became well-known across the United States.
Many have questioned how someone could carry out such an evil act. Fisher was said to have been very angry throughout his life at the divorce of his parents. When he was threatened with this by his wife Mary, this seemed to result in him taking drastic action.
Robert William Fisher remains a wanted fugitive. Many believe him to still be at large. The FBI have produced the images below of what Fisher may look like currently – suggesting he has changed his appearance.
For Mary, Brittney, and Bobby Fisher, their lives were cut short in a horrific manner. They were deprived of the rest of their lives due to a heinous act. All three are buried at the Green Acres Memorial Park in Arizona, USA.
This is a very tragic case. There are a few theories of what could have happened to Robert William Fisher.
We take a look at the evidence for these theories:
Theory One: Robert William Fisher took his own life after the murders
Many believe that Fisher took his own life shortly after the murders. The fact he has never been found – despite widescale searches – points towards this being accurate.
Fisher would have been experiencing enormous guilt. He may have decided that rather than face a life behind bars, that he would take his own life to escape justice.
As he was familiar with the Tonto National Forest area, he may have decided to drive there. He may have left the car and then went to a secluded part of the forest where he took his life.
Moreover, Fisher had told others of suicidal feelings that he had experienced due to his relationship struggles. He may have sickeningly decided to take his family with him in a warped decision.
However, if Fisher wanted to take his own life, surely he would’ve remained at his home and exploded alongside the house. Of course, he could easily have changed his mind later.
Then there is also the question over where Fisher’s body is – if he did take his own life. A possible explanation to this would be the huge swathes of woodland and forest across the region where he disappeared.
Many have lambasted Fisher as a narcissist due to his activities. Narcissists are known to rarely take their own lives – suggesting Fisher may not have taken his own life.
Theory Two: Robert William Fisher evaded capture and remains at large
Many believe that Fisher managed to evade capture, and remains alive to this day. Fisher’s body has never been found, which casts doubt on the suggestion he may have took his own life.
The 10 hour head start that Fisher afforded himself would have given him the chance to escape the area.
Fisher had a keen interest in the outdoors, and enjoyed hunting. It has been suggested that he could have easily utilised these skills to stay alive.
Fisher was also capable of changing his appearance, and given his vast range of past jobs – could have easily fitted in at a new location.
Leaving the car could have been a decoy. After all, there is a huge woodland area around the car which Fisher may have thought would provide him with extra time to escape – with the Police taking time to search the area. He could feasibly have had assistance from an acquaintance in escaping.
However, Fisher’s face has become well-known. It is arguable that he wouldn’t be able to live a secret life without someone recognising him.
Theory Three: Robert William Fisher died while on the run in the caves at Tonto National Forest
One other potential explanation is that Fisher died while on the run in the caves at Tonto National Forest. This is the area where the Fisher family’s car was found.
Near this area, there is a complex cave network. In fact, some caves extend miles. It is possible that Fisher used the caves to hide in while the search was ongoing.
This may have been misguided, as, unbeknownst to many, oxygen supply is very limited in this area. It is possible that Fisher died while on the run, due to oxygen deprivation.
However, various searches have taken place in the area – both during the manhunt and in recent years, including by professional cavers. Yet there have been no sightings.
With the above theories in mind, we now invite you to cast your vote on the theory that you believe is most likely in the poll below.
The entire Robert William Fisher case is a tragedy. One of the worst parts is that the attention in this case has gone into Fisher himself – rather than his innocent family, who lost their lives.
The whereabouts of Fisher is unknown. As so much time has passed since the disappearance, it is doubtful we will ever get answers. Hopefully, Mary, Brittney, and Bobby are resting in peace.