FBI special agent Robert Caldwell received an intriguing e-mail recently. A tipster wrote that he had found Scottsdale triple-murder suspect Robert Fisher.
The writer even provided an address to an Internet site.
Naturally, Caldwell, the lead agent in the manhunt for Fisher, looked into it. The address led to a singles ad on the Yahoo! network.
"When I first saw that, I thought, ‘Oh God, it’s gotten to this now. It’s kind of sick,’ " Caldwell said.
The lonely hearts ad was obviously a spoof, though it did include an actual photo of Fisher.
The headshot was taken from a 1999 family photo. The FBI uses the same photo on its Ten Most Wanted posters.
Fisher, now 44, is wanted in the death of his wife, Mary, 38, and children, Brittney, 12, and Bobby, 10. Police discovered their charred bodies inside the remains of their house at 2223 N. 74th Place, which exploded at 8:42 a.m., April 10, 2001.
The FBI has offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the former surgical catheter technician.
He hasn’t been seen — with exception of the personal ad — since the night before the house exploded.
Investigators found Mary Fisher’s Toyota SUV and the family dog in the Red Lake Triangle pine wilderness area northeast of Young 11 days after the blast, but Fisher has eluded capture ever since.
Caldwell said, "He’s not out there throwing his picture up on the Internet."
Someone took a fair amount of time to fill out the personal ad. The prankster even completed a personality profile about Fisher.
"I’m surprised they didn’t put his occupation as ‘Fugitive.’ That’s the only part that’s left out," Caldwell said.
The agent has fielded several calls alerting him to the bogus ad, he said.
Even though the tips are baseless, they’re encouraging, because they demonstrate people are looking for Fisher. His shaved head and smug smile have become regular fixtures on Fox network’s "America’s Most Wanted."
Caldwell has followed up on tips ranging from London, England, to London, Ky. (London, Ky., was last week. A tipster saw someone who looked like the fugitive, but wasn’t.)
In the meantime, Caldwell, based in Phoenix, has been reinterviewing Fisher’s friends and associates. He hopes someone may reveal information that didn’t surface immediately after the crimes.
For instance, Caldwell learned recently that Fisher had sympathies for antigovernment militia organizations in and around Montana. Leaders of those groups are difficult to contact, but Caldwell has made overtures anyway.
"It’s one thing to believe what you want to believe, but someone who kills his family and slits their throats — that’s someone you don’t want to be associated with," he said.