Jeanne Bishop speaks to Baylor students about her story of loss at Chapel

Courtesy Art

By Ashlyn Thompson Lariat Reporter

Jeanne Bishop visited Baylor Chapel on Wednesday to share the tragedy of how her younger sister and brother-in-law were murdered in their home 26 years ago.

The Chapel audience was silent as Bishop recounted that cold day on April 7, 1990, when she, her pregnant sister, Nancy, and brother-in-law, Richard, were enjoying what none of them realized would be their last meal together as a family.

“I hugged my sister goodbye, and told her I would see her tomorrow,” Bishop said. “The next day was Palm Sunday and we had plans to eat together after church.”

Nancy and Richard returned to their Winnetka, Ill. , townhouse to find an intruder lying in wait of their return. The Langerts begged for their freedom, and it may have been awarded to them had the intruder not been startled by the family dog and fired an accidental shot at the wall. They were then led to the basement, where Richard was handcuffed and shot once, execution style. Nancy covered her head instinctively, so the killer turned his gun and shot her twice in her pregnant stomach. Bishop said that the coroner’s report reveals Nancy lived for around 10 more minutes, during which she crawled to her husband’s body and traced the outline of a heart beside him in her own blood.

“It makes my heart twist in pain to think of what it must have been like for Nancy to see that, how surreal. How heartbreaking to see this man she wanted to grow old with and start a family with, lifeless on the floor.”

Bishop’s family waited almost six months before news of a suspect broke on the case. A teenager with a tip came into the Winnetka police department, and it was then that the family discovered the murderer had been a 16-year-old boy who lived only five blocks from the Langerts.

In 1990, David Biro was a junior at New Trier High School in Winnetka. He bragged about the murders to a friend, who in turn gave the tip to the police. Bishop says he showed no remorse at the trial, even denied that he had committed the crimes, and she was glad when the verdict was life without parole.

“I forgave him in the sense that I wanted to leave him behind. I forgave him for God, for Nancy, for myself. I forgave him, and then I wiped him off my hands like dirt.”

Bishop says she remained at peace with that verdict for almost 23 years, until she had a conversation about forgiveness with former Baylor Provost, Randall O’Brien. It was during this conversation that Bishop realized there was much more work to be done concerning her relationship with her sister’s killer.

“I asked him how he could expect me to care for this person who had done this,” Bishop said. “I asked him what that would look like. And he said, “It would look like Jesus on the cross.”

Today, Bishop visits Biro at Pontiac Prison every other month, and as often as she can in between. She said when she met him, the first thing she heard from Biro was an admission of guilt and an apology. Over the past years she has cultivated a relationship with him and remains one of two of his only regular visitors.

Bishop also shared how her view on forgiveness changed. She said for a long time she wanted Biro to suffer, and for him to feel the pain she had felt. Now she realizes it didn’t make sense to pay for the loss of life with more loss.

“The only thing big enough to pay for the loss of her life was for him to be found,” Bishop said.