Inmate: Karr 'expected to get more' out of O'Hair incident

AUSTIN, Texas - The ex-convict on trial in the disappearance of atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair and her family complained to a fellow inmate that the crime netted only $500,000 in gold coins, the inmate testified Wednesday.

O'Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray and her granddaughter, Robin Murray O'Hair, disappeared from San Antonio in 1995 with about $600,000 in gold coins; $100,000 was later recovered by O'Hair's atheist organization.

Authorities believe the O'Hairs were killed, and their bodies were cut up and buried. The bodies have not been found, but Gary Karr, 52, who has a history of violence, is charged with kidnapping and extortion and could get life in prison if convicted.

Brian Chase testified Wednesday that Karr read an article about the case in a Detroit newspaper while the two men were in a federal prison in Michigan together last year.

Chase said Karr told him: ''All we got for this was a half million in gold; we expected to get a lot more.''

Prosecutors have not charged two other men they have named as suspects.

Chase, who was convicted in 1997 of cocaine conspiracy and money laundering, acknowledged under questioning from Karr's attorney that his sentence has been reduced because of his testimony for the prosecution in two cases not related to Karr.

Another inmate who has done time with Karr in Michigan, Jason Cross, testified Tuesday that Karr admitted extensive involvement in the case, including that he dismembered the bodies of the O'Hairs, helped bury them near Camp Wood, Texas, then helped move the bodies again.

Karr's attorney, Tom Mills, also tried to damage Cross' credibility, pointing out that he claimed during his trial several years ago for bank robbery that head injuries suffered in his youth had diminished his mental abilities.

Prosecutors responded by introducing as evidence 15 pages of handwritten notes Cross kept of his conversations with Karr. Cross said he began taking the notes after meeting with federal agents investigating the O'Hair case.

O'Hair, who reveled in calling herself the most hated woman in America, is best known for launching the legal challenge that led to the 1963 Supreme Court decision that effectively struck down organized prayer in public schools as unconstitutional.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment