Stanger, who grew up in the Warren area, has been living in Summerfield since shortly after Bish's disappearance.
Marion County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jenifer Fisher said he's been jailed since Feb. 25, 2008, when police responded to a call from a child reporting that a man, later identified as Stanger, was choking his mother, a neighbor of Stanger's.
Inside his house, police found the body of 50-year-old Chrystal Morrison. She'd been stabbed "many, many times," Fisher said, and nearly decapitated.
In addition to the first degree murder charge in Morrison's death, Stanger was also charged with burglary and attempted murder in connection with the assault on the neighbor. He has pleaded not guilty.
Morrison's sister, Bonnie Kiernan, said she believed her sister had been trying to tell her that Stanger was responsible for the Bish murder in the days leading up to her slaying.
Kiernan told ABCNews.com that days before Morrison was killed the two sisters engaged in a series of strange, whispered phone conversations where Morrison would bring up the topic of murder and then repeatedly ask the name of Kiernan's bird -- "Molly."
Kiernan, who lives in Massachusetts and knew of the Bish case, said she called Massachusetts State Police the day after Morrison was murdered and was interviewed for several hours. She also contacted the Molly Bish Foundation, which is how Shamshak said he learned of the possible lead.
Deb Stanger, Rodney Stanger's second wife, also contacted Kiernan after hearing about Morrison's murder.
Deb and Rodney Stanger were married for four years in the late 1970s and early '80s. Deb Stanger told ABCNews.com that she fled to Minnesota shortly after the divorce.
"I always suspected he was a killer," she said. "But I never knew for sure."
Deb Stanger said seeing the Bish family's composite sketch of the possible suspect made her "90 percent" sure that her ex-husband was involved.
"My stomach just dropped," she said, adding that her former husband used to comb his hair back like the man in the sketch. "It looks just like him."
But William Miller, chief assistant public defender for the 5th Judicial Circuit in Marion County, represents Stanger and said his client's connection to the Bish case is purely speculative and "one of the most broadly circumstantial press junkets I've ever seen."
Miller said Stanger, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Morrison murder, was declared mentally unfit for trial, but was deemed competent in the fall and has a "viable" defense.
Miller said he couldn't comment on any conversation's he'd had with Stanger regarding the Bish murder, but added that his client was innocent until proven otherwise -- of both the Massachusetts and Florida crimes.
"This is one of those circumstances when the press' take on it is taking a life of its own," he said.
Heather Bish said the family has gotten its hopes up and had them dashed over many leads in the past that didn't pan out. Stanger, she said, is the first lead where all the pieces "kept coming together."
The family is desperately seeking closure, she said, and the answer to its biggest question -- "Why?"
"I think we've all been racked with guilt," she said.