Atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair was likely murdered, dismembered, and buried in metal drums along with two adult children in late 1995, according to investigators in a new federal probe. O'Hair's other son, William J. Murray, told CT that he urged the FBI to launch an investigation based on evidence discovered by San Antonio Express-News reporter John MacCormack (CT, March 1, 1999, p. 24).

MacCormack linked a former employee of O'Hair's Austin-based American Atheists, David R. Waters, to the murder of a con man who died at about the same time the O'Hairs disappeared. Au thorities are holding Waters, 52, the organization's former office manager, and his former prison mate Gary Karr, 50, on unrelated firearms charges, but presume both had a part in the disappearance of O'Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray, and adopted daughter Robin Murray-O'Hair. An FBI agent testified in court March 26 that Karr admitted to helping dispose of four bodies but denies killing anyone.

William Murray filed a miss ing person report with the Austin police several months after the disappearance of his famous mother. "They never took it seriously," says Murray, now an evangelical minister. "It was handled by the juvenile runaway division."

Austin police, noting that it is not against the law to be missing voluntarily, have supported a widely held suspicion that the O'Hairs fled with more than $500,000 in gold coins.

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