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Linda Bishop’s tragic story shown on Netflix

  • Linda Bishop with Caitlin Murtagh



Monitor staff
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Following its run on PBS, God Knows Where I Am, the documentary covering Linda Bishop’s tragic journey from the New Hampshire State Hospital to her death at an abandoned home in Concord, is currently part of the Netflix lineup.

Released in 2016, the movie was shown in New York City and Los Angeles before appearing at Red River Theatre, where a panel of four – including Bishop’s sister, Joan Bishop, and daughter, Caitlin Bishop Murtagh – hosted a question-and-answer discussion afterward.

Linda Bishop, 52 when she died, had lived a rich life before the onset of mental illness, later diagnosed as bipolar disorder, changed everything. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in art history, traveled through Europe by train, got married and had a daughter.

But Bishop’s behavior grew bizarre about 20 years ago, leading to a series of events that pushed Murtagh and Joan Bishop out of her life.

She was arrested for disorderly conduct in New York City near Ground Zero shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and committed involuntarily to Bellevue Hospital Center.

She later suffered bouts of depression and paranoia, was found living in an abandoned building in Colebrook, near the Canadian border, was arrested for driving under the influence and tossed a cup of urine at a corrections officer.

She was admitted involuntarily to the state hospital in Concord, where she signed forms claiming she had a place to live and would seek treatment upon her release.

Joan Bishop, who worked in the Concord court system for 30 years, was not told of her sister’s new-found freedom in 2007, shedding light on the delicate balance between civil rights and the state’s role in providing care for the mentally ill.

Linda broke into an abandoned house on Mountain Road and lived on apples and rainwater for about three months, until winter stripped away her food supply.

Her last entry was dated Jan. 13, 2008. The page was blank, and she was found four months later, on May 3, by a potential buyer for the house. She had left two journals, written in two spiral notebooks, which were found beside her body and used in the film for narration by actress Lori Singer.

Two years later, Murtagh received an out-of-court settlement of $275,000 from a wrongful death suit.

Following the announcement of the PBS broadcast last month, Joan Bishop, who had retired and moved to Florida, wrote in an email, “It’s so exciting to know that the message from this film will be seen nationwide. It would be such an accomplishment if there could truly be a factual, honest dialogue about these issues so that those suffering from mental illness could receive the help they need.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)