David Waters, the man who authorities say was the mastermind behind a plot to rob and murder Madalyn Murray O'Hair, her son Jon and granddaughter Robin Murray, died in prison January 27 at the Federal Medical center in Butner, N.C. He reportedly succumbed to lung cancer at age 55.
In January 2001, Waters reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, and led authorities to a remote Texas ranch where the dismembered bodies of the three prominent Atheists were found. He pleaded guilty to extorting nearly $600,000 from the O'Hairs, and avoided prosecution for his role in the grisly murders.
Mrs. O'Hair was best known as a plaintiff in the historic Murray v Curlett (1963) U.S. Supreme Court case which, in a combined decision, struck down the practice of mandatory, unison prayer and Bible verse recitation in the public schools. She was also founder of American Atheists, and for decades after her famous legal victory continued to be active in the fight for civil rights and state-church separation. Her son, Jon Garth Murray and adopted granddaughter, Robin Murray O'Hair, later helped lead American Atheists.