Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gary Krist: The Einstein of Crime

The Snatch

Krist startled the women awake with a knock at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17. He said he was a police officer and that Barbara's fiancé, Stewart Woodward, had been hurt in a car accident.

When Mrs. Mackle opened the door, Krist and Eisemannwearing ski masksbarged in and brandished an assault rifle.

They tied up Jane Mackle and knocked her out with chloroform, then snatched the daughter, dressed only in a flannel nightgown.

Krist drove 20 miles north, to a spot near Duluth, Ga. He exited the highway at South Berkeley Lake Road, then turned off again into a patch of woods, easing the Volvo 100 feet back through the trees.

Map of Georgia with Berkley Lake indicator
Map of Georgia with Berkley Lake indicator

Krist got out and pulled away tree limbs that obscured the capsule. And Barbara Mackle got her first look at the terror that awaited her.

The capsule was roughly 3 feet wide, 3 /2 feet deep and 7 feet long. It was constructed of plywood, and the interior was lined with fiberglass. The corners were reinforced with steel brackets.

Krist popped off the lid and launched into a proud explanation to Mackle of how he had equipped the tomb with everything she would need to keep her safe until he received the ransom.

Krist pointed out that the capsule had food, water (laced with sedatives), a fan, a lamp, a blanket and a sweater. Two flexible plastic pipes to the surface brought in fresh air.

The woman's eyes were like saucers.

"No, no, no!" she cried.

She begged Krist to take her anywhere else, but not to bury her. According to Krist, she repeated one phrase like a mantra: "I'll be good!"

Krist held the victim's arms while Eisemann applied a chloroform-soaked towel to her face.

She was drowsy but not knocked out as they lowered her into the tomb.

She cried out again and again as Krist fastened the lid with 14 screws, then buried her beneath hundreds of pounds of dirt and camouflaging branches.

Mackle listened through the air tubes as the shoveling stopped. She heard footsteps, followed by the sound of a car starting and driving away.

She later wrote, "I started screaming and pounding to try to get out. With my fists I hit the walls as hard as I could. With all my strength I braced and pushed ... I was screaming, 'God, no, you can't leave me!'"

It was 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 17.

She lay there petrified, her chest heavingbelow ground in a claustrophobic capsule that offered no chance for escape.

Her life was in the hands of her kidnappers. As she regained composure, she took stock of her surroundings. Beneath a Kotex box she found a long, typed note from Krist that proudly explained his wonderful hostage-holding device.

"DO NOT BE ALARMED. YOU ARE SAFE ... YOU'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS ONE WAY OR THE OTHER."

Among other things, Krist bragged in the note that his ingenious capsule included a battery that would operate her light and fan for a full 11 days. 

He was wrong. The battery crapped out in just three hours.

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