Timothy McEnany Talks About the Katherine Bishop Murder Investigation (Pt 2)

In this segment, Timothy McEnany continues to recount the events leading up to his arrest as a suspect in the Katherine Bishop murder investigation. The following is the account in his own words (part two). This is a continuation of the initial account, which can be found here.

On March 7th, 1993, about mid-morning, two state troopers again showed up on my doorstep. They asked me if I would mind giving a formal statement concerning the events of March 3rd, and told me they were not equipped to take my statement at the house, and asked me to come with them to the station. I wanted to be helpful, if I could, and figured the station was only a few miles down the road, where we were two days prior. I told them I would grab my keys and meet them at the station.

The troopers said I didn’t have to drive, and that we would be going to the station in Harrisburg. That was a bit of a drive — about 20-30 minutes from my home. I asked why we couldn’t do the statement at the local station, and they said something to the effect of their office in Harrisburg, and because it was a Sunday, they wouldn’t be able to access what they needed at the Elizabethville station.

Since it was a Sunday, it was a day I would normally spend with my family, but I didn’t have any pressing business to conduct, so I figured it would be better to do it that day, rather than interrupt the work week. Figuring that I would be gone for more than an hour, I didn’t want to take the car from my wife, and with the troubles I had with the work van, I accepted the officers’ offer to give me a ride there, stating that they would bring me back home as soon as I finished giving them my statement. The thought never occurred to me that by not allowing me my own transportation, they would effectively be holding me hostage.

So off the two troopers and I went. During the ride to Harrisburg, we engaged in casual conversation, the troopers asking how long I had been married, how old the children were, etc. At the time, it seemed like nothing more than polite conversation, but in hindsight, I believe they were seasoned investigators, gathering information for further questioning. At the time, however, it seemed innocuous enough. They even stopped at McDonald’s and asked if I wanted anything to eat. I declined, and recall being a little irritated that we were wasting time, as I wanted to get home to my family.

We got to the police station and pretty much went straight to the interview room. In the room was a desk and three chairs. The room was pretty small. I am a bit claustrophobic, and remember feeling uncomfortable, but the troopers were very nice, and asked me questions in a friendly manner. I didn”t feel like this was an adversarial situation at all at that point. The troopers were smiling and very polite. Freehliung, the trooper who did most of the talking, sat across the desk from me. The other trooper sat at the end of the desk, blocking me into the corner essentially. Although not aware of it at that time, I now realise this was done to have an intimidating psychological effect on me, and realise I was feeling trapped, and not in control of the situation.

I didn’t say anything about being uncomfortable, because they were, after all, being nice to me. In fact, I may have even said I was comfortable if asked. I really just wanted to give my statement and get back home.

One thing I did notice was that there wasn’t a typewriter or tape recorder. I asked why not, and was told that they had to take some notes and get all the background information before we could make the formal statement. I thought, okay, whatever… really, what did I know about making a formal statement anyway?

They asked me to relate the events of the day to them. I was constantly asked for more details and provided them wherever possible. First it was just about the time we were at Mrs. Bishop’s house, but eventually it included events from the time I woke up until getting home that night. I asked what the other events of that day has to do with Mrs. Bishop’s house, and was told that it might help me to remember something I didn’t previously remember.

So I related everything that I could to them, and answered their questions. We started to go around in circles. Talking about things that we had already talked about more than once. I told them we were going over the same things, and could we just get to the formal statement. I was told they just needed to get all their facts straight before we could make a formal statement.

And so I kept answering their questions, and eventually their questions about what I told them started to be wrong about what I said previously, and I would have to correct them. This was frustrating me, because I would have to correct something I just told them. I told them one thing, and they would say something completely different. Of course, I now realise this was another tactic to try to trip me up on any lies; however, at the time, I really just thought I was dealing with a couple bumbling Keystone cops!

At this point, their line of questioning was becoming more like an interrogation, and I kept answering their questions willingly. Since I didn’t lie to them about anything, there was nothing for them to trip me up on. But eventually, it began to feel like they were badgering me, and I told them I wanted to make the formal statement and go home. I was told we would take a little break, and that they would take the formal statement when we resumed.

I was asked it I wanted anything to drink, and they brought me some water or coffee, I can’t remember which. During the break, I was introduced to another trooper, McIlhenny, outside of the interrogation room. Trooper McIlhenny engaged me in conversation while the other troopers were supposedly preparing to take my formal statement.

McIlhenny and I talked about how similar our names were, and inquired if I had ever been to Ireland, telling me about his trips there. Again it seemed friendly enough, but I now realise it was just another tactic. I realise now that I might appear stupid not to have realised this, but I was a very naive young man, and have a habit of trusting people as a result of my upbringing, I suppose.

At some point, I was told that Trooper McIlhenny administered polygraph tests, and was asked if I would consent to one. I asked why they would want me to take a polygraph test, as I had been truthful with them. At this point, I asked they thought I had anything to do with the death of Mrs. Bishop, and told, “No, of course not.”

They told me that the polygraph was just a formality to be done, after which we could make a formal statement. I didn’t have anything to hide, so I told them I would take the test, if I could speak to my sister first. My sister was a police officer, and I remembered that during her interview for the academy, they issued a polygraph test. She told me that during her polygraph, she admitted to shoplifting as a child, and that the test showed that she was lying about that, even though it was the truth. So I wanted to get her opinion on my taking a polygraph for this statement.

After an inordinate amount of time, I was told I could call her. I tried calling, but could not get through. After several attempts, each of which failed, I thought it was odd, because my sister is not normally difficult to reach. I would later learn that she was in fact home at that time, and that her phone never rang. But I consented to do the polygraph, because once again, I felt I had nothing to hide.

I was told the test was very trustworthy, and just a formality. I had my misgivings about the trustworthiness of the test, considering my sister’s experience, and given that I had heard they were not reliable and not even admissible in court.

McIlhenny started to explain the procedure to me, stating I would be asked ten questions, which he would go over with me before the test began. He claimed the test was 100% accurate, and so I shouldn’t have anything to be worried about.

I agreed to the test, and asked to use the restroom first. McIlhenny said he needed to use the restroom too, and accompanied me. As we left that interrogation room, I noticed an armed guard outside the door. I looked at him strange, because he was in plain clothes, and I thought it peculiar to see an armed guard outside the door of the interrogation room. McIlhenny escorted me to the restroom, and I relieved myself, but despite his claim to have had to use the restroom himself, McIlhenny did not use the restroom. At that point, I began to feel uneasy.

Once back in the interrogation/polygraph room, McIlhenny administered the test. He went over the questions ahead of time, and then asked them during the test three times, in different order. After taking the wires off me, he asked what the test told him. I responded that I was truthful, so that was what it would have proven. He said, no, that the test told him that I might not have committed the crime, but that I knew something about it. I told him that wasn’t true at all.

While I thought things were surreal before, I now felt I’d stepped into a Salvador Dali painting. I couldn’t believe what he was telling me.

At this point, McIlhenny became adversarial. He again accused me of knowing something about the crime. I denied it. This went back and forth, with him becoming increasingly agitated. I told him it wasn’t true.

He drew something on a piece of paper and asked me if I knew what it was. I told him it looked like a hand. He replied that the finger was pointing at me. I told him he was wrong again, and at that point he left the room.



About Fr. Francis-Maria Salvato, OFM

Fr. Francis-Maria Salvato is a Franciscan priest and retired archbishop of the North American Old Catholic Communion. A former canon lawyer, he has dedicated his spare time to the research and furtherance of the efforts to free those unjustly convicted for crimes they did not commit.
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