Abducted by Aliens?

Credit Card Clue

Jon Garth Murray

Then there is the clue of the maxed-out credit cards. While the dead tell no tales, their financial records do. At the time of the disappearance, Madalyn, Jon, and Robin were joint owners of a checking account at Frost National Bank. The account held more than $23,000. Frost Bank is based in San Antonio, and has branches all over the city.

Given that fact, why, in the days before they disappeared in San Antonio, were Jon and Robin using their credit cards for cash withdrawals? According to records from the U.S. Bankruptcy court, Robin left town owing $30,075 on nine different credit cards (not counting a couple of department store cards). Jon left owing $47,782 on 11 different cards. According to the bankruptcy records, Robin had used one card for a $3,500 cash advance and another for a $1,000 cash advance. Jon's bankruptcy records do not show any cash advances (creditors are not required to list them), but according to Spike Tyson, who moved into the Murray O'Hairs' home shortly after the disappearance, the credit card bills that came to the house showed that many of Jon and Robin's cards had been used for cash advances in amounts of $1,000, $2,000, and $3,000. "All of them were maxed out," says Tyson.

Gordon McNutt, the court-appointed receiver for Jon's estate, refused to comment directly on how many of Jon's cards had been used for cash advances, but he added he "would not dispute" what Tyson said about the cash advances.

Like all the other facts in this case, the credit card transactions do not prove anything. But they do add yet another strange detail to the disappearance.

Meanwhile, the organization that Madalyn, Jon, and Robin built in Austin is slowly being dismantled and sold. In September, the American Atheist General Headquarters building at 7215 Cameron Road was sold to AIDS Services of Austin for $800,000, less than half of what the Murray O'Hairs paid for it in 1987. In July, the Murray O'Hair home on Greystone Drive was sold, for $240,000, to satisfy creditors. The estates of Jon and Robin have declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy (liquidation). Madalyn's estate declared Chapter 7 (reorganization). McNutt, the receiver for Jon's estate, believes that the estate will be liquidated within the next three months or so.

It's a surprisingly quiet ending to Madalyn's 30-year stint in Texas. She arrived in Austin in 1965 with a flourish, having assaulted five police officers in Baltimore and fled to avoid prosecution. She went to Mexico, then came to Austin, where she successfully fought extradition charges to Maryland. Then, after 30 years of raising hell about God and religion, she, Jon, and Robin disappeared in San Antonio without leaving a trace.

By Christmas, the final remnants of American Atheists Inc. should be loaded onto moving vans and shipped to New Jersey. When the last computers and printing presses are packed, another chapter in the disappearance will be complete. And the memory of the Murray O'Hairs' three decade-long stint in Austin and San Antonio will grow a bit dimmer. But the intrigue continues. And the missing trio have clearly joined the ranks of "the famous disappeared." It's an exclusive list -- one that includes Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earhart, and D.B. Cooper (see below). It's the kind of notoriety that Madalyn Murray O'Hair loved. She couldn't have written a better ending.

This story originally appeared on Nov. 20, 1998. For other stories on this case by Robert Bryce, see:
May 3, 1996: The Case of the Missing Atheists
June 4, 1999: Preying on Atheists
Aug. 27, 1999: Waters in the Pokey
Dec. 10, 1999 Atheist Abductors
Sept. 22, 2000: In Deep Waters

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Atheist, American Atheists Inc. General Headquarters, Madalyn, Murray O'hair, Jon Garth Murray, Robin Murray, David Waters

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