Naked City

Atheist Abductors

The case of the missing atheists took a big step toward resolution on Tuesday when an Austin grand jury issued a federal indictment for Gary Paul Karr of Novi, Mich., on charges of kidnapping, extortion, and robbery. The indictment alleges that Karr, along with several accomplices, participated in the kidnapping of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray, and granddaughter Robin Murray-O'Hair. The three atheists disappeared in September of 1995 and are presumed dead. The indictment alleges that Karr, 51, and his accomplices kidnapped the three and stole more than $500,000 worth of property from them. Karr will be tried in federal district court in Austin.

O'Hair was a plaintiff in a 1963 Supreme Court case that resulted in a prohibition on prayer in public schools. The investigation into her disappearance gained momentum on March 24, when federal authorities searched the Lamar Blvd. apartment of David Roland Waters, who had worked for American Atheists at their headquarters on Cameron Road.

Although Waters, 52, is not mentioned in Karr's indictment, federal officials consider him a lead suspect in the murder of the atheists. In an affidavit released shortly before Waters pleaded guilty to federal firearms charges on Aug. 20, Edmund Martin, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service, said that the two men "planned and executed the scheme to abduct, kidnap and murder" the three atheists.

Federal prosecutors have refused to say whether Waters will be charged with the murders of the O'Hairs. Shortly after Waters was sentenced to prison on the firearms charges, Gerald Carruth, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, reminded reporters that there is no statute of limitation on murder, and that "the investigation into the O'Hair disappearance will continue until those responsible are brought to justice."

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