Order for $463,000 in gold found at Durham home where police suspect teen in dad's death

Investigators found a purchase order for nearly $463,000 worth of gold inside the Durham home of a man whose 16-year-old son is suspected in his death.

Police are looking further into the possibility of a financial motive in the death of William “Bill” Bishop in April, according to newly released court documents.

Bishop's teenage son called 911 on April 18 and told a dispatcher that he found his father unconscious with a dog leash wrapped around his neck, with the dog still attached. Police who arrived found Bishop slouched in a chair inside the home.

Bishop died three days later at the hospital.

Durham police have focused their investigation on the teen, a student at the private school Durham Academy. In court documents, police said they found "suspicious" internet searches in his cellphone.

“The searches and websites found in the web history included but are not limited to financial information, how to calculate the value of an estate, the value of the price of gold per ounce, and how to transfer bank accounts after death,” the documents state.

“These searches and websites visited explain a possible motive."

William Bishop was a prominent developer in the Tampa, Fla., area. He moved to North Carolina in 2008 to study city and regional planning from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was set to get his doctorate in May, according to an obituary.

According to Bishop’s LinkedIn profile, he had been a principal at the Development Planning and Finance Group, a national real estate consulting firm, since 2014.

Police searched Bishop's home in the 3400 block of Dover Road on May 2, when they found a large safe behind a locked door, according to search warrants. Investigators could not get the safe open and contacted Bishop's ex-wife for help.

The ex-wife told police she did not know the combination for the safe.

But police found paperwork in Bishop's office, including a purchase order for 20 10-ounce and five 32.15-ounce gold bars. They were valued at $462,773, according to court documents.

Bishop's girlfriend told police that Bishop often talked about the importance of keeping gold on hand. She described him as a "survivalist."

The girlfriend told police that doctors had informed her on April 20 that “William Bishop had no significant brain activity and there did not appear to be any functioning left in his brain except to initiate a breath,” according to court documents.

The girlfriend later that day asked Bishop's ex-wife to look inside a safe for a will. It's unclear if that is the same safe police found inside the home.

Bishop's ex-wife texted the girlfriend later that morning to say that she opened the safe but did not find any documents.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks