Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mysterious Disappearance of Madalyn Murray O'Hair

The Mastermind

Later that year, Waters decided to plead guilty in his probation violation case of possessing ammunition. His original sentence of 60 years was reinstated. Madalyn had gotten the last laugh on that matter after all.

David Waters
David Waters

A federal grand jury also indicted Waters on charges similar to Karr's. But if convicted, he'd first spend 60 years in state prison on the embezzlement charge, because that trial had occurred first. Waters didn't want that. Knowing that he'd likely never be released, Waters wanted to spend the rest of his days in federal prison, which he considered better accommodations. In a deal with prosecutors, he agreed to confess and tell authorities where the three victims were buried in exchange for being allowed to plead guilty to extortion and being transferred to a federal prison.

Jon O'Hair
Jon O'Hair

Authorities talked to Waters for four days, and, by the time they were finished, his confession filled 300 pages. Waters admitted that with Karr and Fry he had kidnapped the O'Hair family at gunpoint from their office. The trio was then held at the motel and ordered to liquidate their assets. Jon arranged to have the gold coins delivered to a local jeweler; he went with one of the kidnappers to retrieve the first batch, which was $500,000.

Interstate Inn Motel where the O'Hairs were held by kidnappers.
Interstate Inn Motel where the O'Hairs were held by kidnappers.

All of this took a month, and the atheists seemed to believe that they wouldn't be harmed if they complied. The Waters gang nonetheless decided to kill them without waiting for the rest of the money.

"At that point they strangled them one by one, and it took three of them to strangle Jon Garth Murray because he was so large and he fought back," John MacCormack said.

The bodies were taken to the storage unit, where Karr was given an extra $50,000 to cut them up. The victims' remains were placed in blue barrels.


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