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Federal authorities indict a suspect in the O'Hair disappearance, but the atheist's body is still missing

The news of Karr's indictment heartened parties on both sides of the ideological divide who have stakes in the O'Hair case. Bill Murray, O'Hair's surviving son, who became a fundamentalist Christian two decades ago, says, "I think this is a good move by the federal authorities, considering the reluctance of authorities in Texas to move, particularly on the Fry murder. I think this brings it closer to closure for everyone involved."

Murray believes Karr should cooperate with the feds -- not just to save his skin, but to save his soul as well. "I really wish that what would happen is that Mr. Karr would realize his situation, that he's never going to get out of jail, and turn his life over to God so he can have some peace in prison," he says. "Just tell everyone where the bodies are and what really happened."

Ron Barrier, a spokesman for American Atheists, one of the organizations founded by O'Hair, says, "I hope this is an important step toward, clearing the O'Hair family name and clearing American Atheists of any wrongdoing. We were getting hit with rumors of theft and complicity in the disappearance."

Convicted felon Gary Karr was indicted on conspiracy charges in the disappearance of Madalyn Murray O'Hair.
San Antonio Express-News
Convicted felon Gary Karr was indicted on conspiracy charges in the disappearance of Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

As dramatic as it might appear, Karr's indictment changes little. Although federal and Dallas investigators have a wealth of circumstantial evidence supporting their theory that Fry, Karr, and Waters kidnapped and murdered the O'Hairs and that Karr and Waters then turned on Fry, they have only one body. Without bodies, it is difficult to prove a murder. And in the O'Hairs' case, it would be doubly difficult since they left behind ample documentary evidence that they intended one day to abandon Austin and retire overseas, with New Zealand being their first choice.

The feds believe that Waters knew this and beat them to it, but proving that the O'Hairs are not alive would be daunting challenge in court. Mills believes the feds need Karr to get make a case against Waters. The questions are, What does Karr know and how much does he fear ending up being charged and tried for four murders, one of which comes complete with a headless body?

"I don't know what he knows," Mills says of Karr. "But the way the chess game plays out...if they say, 'OK, if he cooperates against Waters we won't seek the death penalty against him,' that means they must need him," he says. "And if he doesn't take this. They'll go after him for murder. But do they have a good case? I don't know if they have sufficient evidence. Maybe this will allow him to find out what their strong cards are."

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