Atheist's Son Calls for Probe
October 3, 1996
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The estranged son of atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair
wants police to unravel her mysterious disappearance.
Ms. O'Hair, whose lawsuit led to the landmark 1963 Supreme Court decision
outlawying public school prayer, was last seen more than a year ago when
she told friends she was going to New York City to picket the pope's appearance.
Her disappearance gave rise to rumors she died and her followers kept it
quiet because they feared Christians would claim she found God on her deathbed.
The missing persons report was filed Sept. 24 by William J. Murray, who
disavowed his mother's atheist beliefs years ago. Murray said Wednesday
he believed it was time authorities looked into the disappearance of his
mother; half brother, Jon Garth Murray; and daughter, Robin Murray-O'Hair.
"For the sake of her grandchildren and supporters and the public at
large, the time had come for some central agency to make a determination
as to what had happened to her," he said. "It just is that simple."
Murray said he was embarrassed to file the report, but said there was no
hope of resolving the mystery without a missing-persons report on file.
Police said there was little they could do, though. "Until additional
information surfaces, there is not much action detectives can take,"
police spokesman Mike Burgess said. "It's not against the law in Texas
to be missing."
Spike Tyson, director of American Atheists Inc., questioned the motives
of Murray, who runs a conservative political action committee, Government
is Not God.
"He has said over and over and over again that he wants nothing to
do with them. Why is he doing it now? Publicity. He needs money for his
organization," Tyson said. "He hated his mother with a passion."
Tyson said his group has not suffered because Ms. O'Hair is missing. He
said they added 111 new members last month.
Meanwhile, police said, a car belonging to Ms. Murray-O'Hair was impounded
Tuesday after officers found it parked on a remote lot at Robert Mueller
Municipal Airport. A spokesman said he didn't know how long the vehicle
had been there.