On Monday, Michael Despres was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Monday morning as part of a plea deal.
Under the plea deal, the Sebastian man avoided the death penalty for killing 67-year-old Janine Bishop at their residence located at the 400 block of Briarcliff Circle.
Despres, 58, admitted to the First Degree Murder charge to detectives after strangling his girlfriend using a rope with a handle. He told investigators that he had been angry at Bishop and contemplating killing her for several days before her death.
“The decedent had ligature marks around her neck area, consistent with being strangled,” detectives said.
After killing Bishop, he moved her body to the master bedroom, laid beside her, and went to sleep.
At approximately 5:30 a.m., Despre woke up, changed Bishop’s clothing, and placed her inside the passenger side of her pickup truck. He then put his bicycle inside his grey van, drove it to Walmart, and used the bike to peddle back to the residence.
Despre then drove the pickup truck to the Sebastian Walmart, parked it, and moved his van to the Dollar Tree parking lot. Next, he walked into Walmart and asked the manager to call 911 because there was an “emergency situation with his fiance in the parking lot.”
Friends and neighbors say Bishop was in an “abusive relationship” with Despres for years. When neighbors found out what happened, they were horrified. Some of their close friends are still living with the tragedy. Many say the relationship between the two was toxic and abusive.
Neighbors, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity, said Bishop was very active and healthy.
“You would often see Janine riding her bike around the neighborhood. She was a lovely woman who also helped others. It is tragic; she didn’t deserve this,” a neighbor told Sebastian Daily.