Religion News Report
Man sentenced to 20 years in O'Hair killings
Dallas Morning News, Mar. 31, 2001
AUSTIN - David R. Waters had no comment Friday as a federal judge ordered him to spend 20 years in prison for his admitted role in the 1995 kidnapping and murder of American atheist grande dame Madalyn Murray O'Hair, her son and granddaughter. Everyone else had something to say.
Mr. Waters, 54, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to extort from Mrs. O'Hair. However, he admitted in the plea bargain agreement in January that he did "threaten and commit physical violence" to Mrs. O'Hair, 76, her son Jon Garth Murray, 40, and granddaughter and adopted daughter Robin Murray O'Hair, 30, after they disappeared from their Austin home in August 1995. He led investigators to a remote Real County ranch 120 miles west of San Antonio, where the O'Hairs' skeletal remains were unearthed Jan. 27 from a shallow grave.
Outside the courtroom, Ellen Johnson, president of the American Atheist organization founded by Mrs. O'Hair, praised prosecutors and investigators for their dogged pursuit of those responsible for the disappearance of the O'Hairs.
Mr. Waters, long the prime suspect in connection with the disappearances, is the third person convicted in what federal authorities described as an extortion plot for $500,000 in gold coins.
Gary Karr, 53, was sentenced last year to life in prison for extortion, and Gerald Osborne, 50, was sentenced to three years probation and fined $1,500 earlier this year for using a false Social Security number to rent an Austin storage unit where authorities believe the O'Hairs were partially dismembered.