He known as himself “Murph the Surf,” a tanned, roguish, party-loving seashore boy from Miami, and he transfixed the country in 1964 via pulling off the most important jewel heist in New York Town historical past — the distinguished snatching of the Big name of India, a sapphire higher than a golfing ball, and a haul of different gemstones from the American Museum of Herbal Historical past.

It was once now not that 27-year-old Jack Roland Murphy and his accomplices, Allan Kuhn and Roger Clark, have been superthieves, like those Maximilian Schell and Melina Mercouri portrayed within the then-current Jules Dassin movie Topkapi, a couple of plot to thieve an emerald-encrusted dagger from the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul — a film the museum thieves had not too long ago noticed.

Reasonably, even supposing they’d robbed waterfront mansions in Miami and escaped via speedboat, they left a path of amateurish clues to the museum robbery and have been stuck via New York detectives two days after the crime, even supposing the loot — price greater than three million in these days’s greenbacks — was once nonetheless lacking: stashed via then in water resistant pouches in Miami’s Biscayne Bay.

And it was once now not that the activity was once so neatly deliberate. Reasonably, safety for the fourth-floor Corridor of Gemstones was once simply horrible. Burglar alarms had way back stopped running, home windows at evening have been left ajar for air flow, and there have been best 8 guards for the museum’s dozens of interconnected structures. One getting older guard shined a flashlight into the corridor on his occasional rounds. The gemstones have been begging to be stolen.

“Allan mentioned he may just listen the jewels speaking,” Murphy advised The New York Instances in 2019 for a retrospective article 55 years after the notorious break-in. “He mentioned, ‘The jewels are pronouncing, ‘Take us to Miami.’ So I mentioned, ‘Neatly, let’s take them to Miami.’”

Murphy died Saturday at his house in Crystal River, Florida. He was once 83. His spouse, Kitten, mentioned the motive was once center and organ failure.

Murphy was once an enigma of fabled deeds and crimes. Via his personal account, he have been a live performance violinist with the Pittsburgh Symphony at 18, a celebrity athlete who gained the College of Pittsburgh’s first tennis scholarship, and a two-time nationwide browsing champion. A bold thief and self-promoter, an writer, a jail missionary and tv evangelist, he created his personal myths and let the inside track media and Hollywood beautify them.

He revealed a brief, self-serving memoir, Jewels for the Adventure (1989), which unnoticed to say that he was once a convicted assassin; and he was once portrayed in motion pictures, together with Marvin Chomsky’s Murph the Surf (1975), a glamorized account of the museum caper with Don Stroud within the identify function. Murphy spent just about twenty years in jail — a brief stretch for the museum heist and an extended one for a brutal murder in Miami.

For a lot of his grownup lifestyles, Murphy was once a cartoon drawn from the exposure that engulfed him. The tabloids, which romanticized the museum robbery as against the law of the century, idealized him as a good-looking blond adventurer in darkish sun shades who charmed ladies, smoked dope and cherished jazz. Even the mainstream press portrayed him as a type of people hero.

However the extraordinary hallmarks of identification — a reputation, a date and place of origin, a historical past of faculties and jobs — have been lacking or obscured via his deceptive and contradictory statements, via his nomadic lifetime of crime, and via doubtful claims about his accomplishments, his innocence and the authenticity of his late-in-life non secular conversion.

The California Index of Births indexed his identify as Jack Ronald Murphy. In an interview for this obituary in Might, he mentioned his start identify was once Jack Rolland Murphy. Sooner or later, he started the use of Roland for a center identify. For years he cited more than a few start dates and puts, plainly to cover his identification from the regulation.

He advised The Instances that his father have been a phone lineman, however advised the East Coast Surf Legends Corridor of Repute that he have been {an electrical} contractor, at all times at the transfer. He mentioned he had attended 12 grade colleges and 3 excessive colleges. He claimed to have a photographic reminiscence, however within the Instances interview he may just now not determine any of the colleges or the years he attended them.

Used to be he a genius? Possibly. The Florida correctional government indexed his IQ as 143 — within the 99.eight percentile of rankings. Did he play a violin with the Pittsburgh Symphony at 18? There’s no file of it. Did he win a tennis scholarship to the College of Pittsburgh? Most certainly. Used to be he a countrywide browsing champion? Possibly. Used to be he the Miami cat burglar who within the 1960s rifled waterfront houses for jewels and escaped via speedboat over a maze of waterways? Virtually for sure, investigators mentioned.

Did he conspire with two secretaries to thieve securities from a brokerage, and trap them aboard a speedboat, the place he and any other guy bludgeoned and slashed them to loss of life and dumped their our bodies in a canal in 1967? Most certainly. A courtroom convicted him of one of the crucial homicides and sentenced him to lifestyles in jail. He served 17 years.

However in 1986 he was once launched, a born-again Christian with a brand new character and vocation, preaching to jail inmates. Used to be his redemption actual or faked? Both means, he gave it an enormous effort.

Murphy ministered to 1000’s of inmates over many years, was a tv evangelist and seemed with celebrities at prayer breakfasts, as soon as with President Ronald Reagan. His buddy, NFL quarterback Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys, known as his redemption actual sufficient.

Jack Ronald Murphy was once born in Los Angeles on Might 26, 1937, to Jack Marshall Murphy and Sylvia Ruth Camp, who have been married six weeks after his start. An best kid, Jack spent a few of his adolescence in a disciplinarian family in Carlsbad, California, an oceanfront town close to San Diego. John Penrod, a formative years buddy, advised Sports activities Illustrated in 2020 that he as soon as noticed the daddy slap the boy’s face for laundry dishes too slowly.

Jack was a rise up, but additionally an adept violinist, tennis participant and surfer at native seashores. The Murphys moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Modesto, California, within the 1940s, and to the Pittsburgh suburb of McKeesport when he was once a highschool senior. He mentioned he gained a tennis championship there and a scholarship to the College of Pittsburgh.

However months after matriculating at Pitt in 1955, he dropped out and hitchhiked to Miami Seaside. He discovered jobs educating swimming, scuba diving, tennis and dancing at cabana golf equipment and hotels. He additionally was a high-board stunt diver with a touring aquatic troupe at swank motels.

In 1957, Murphy married Gloria Sostock. That they had two sons, Shawn and Michael, and have been divorced in 1962. In 1963, he married Linda Leach and was once divorced. A dating with Bonnie Lou Sutera ended together with her obvious suicide in 1964. Any other with Connie Hopen lasted from 1967 to 1969. In 1987, he married Mary Catherine Luppold Collins, known as Kitten.

An entire record of survivors was once now not in an instant to be had.

In Cocoa Seaside, Florida, Murphy opened a surfboard store and started browsing competitively. The Encyclopedia of Surfing (2005), via Matt Warshaw, says he gained the 1962 Daytona Seaside, Florida, Surfing Championship, was once inducted into the East Coast Surf Legends Corridor of Repute in 1996 and gained the East Coast Surfing Championship in Virginia Seaside, Virginia, in 1966.

In Miami Seaside, he met Kuhn, a scuba diver with a speedboat, who presented him to crime. After plundering artwork works from waterfront houses, as a substitute of promoting them to fences they known as artwork insurers and traded their booty for money, no questions requested.

Within the fall of 1964, Murphy, Kuhn and Clark drove to New york hoping for a large rating. Renting a penthouse on the Cambridge Space Lodge on West 86th Boulevard, they threw all-night drug events. In Midtown, they robbed bar buyers and burglarized lodge rooms.

On the JP Morgan Corridor of Gemstones and Minerals on the American Museum of Herbal Historical past, on Central Park West, they famous lax safety and gawked at what they discovered there: the Big name of India, a 563-carat, oval-shaped blue sapphire, 2 1/2-inches lengthy (a golfing ball is 1.68 inches in diameter); the DeLong Big name Ruby, at 100.32 carats; and the 116-carat Nighttime Big name, one of the crucial global’s greatest black sapphires.

At the evening of October 29, a Thursday, with Clark in the street as lookout, Murphy and Kuhn, sporting a coil of rope, scaled a tall iron fence at the back of the museum, climbed a fireplace break out to the 5th surface and inched alongside a slender ledge. Tying the rope to a pillar above an open fourth-floor window, Murphy swung down and used his foot to transport the sash.

They have been in.

The glass protective the vital gemstones was once a 3rd of an inch thick, too robust to wreck with a rubber mallet. As an alternative of risking noise with heavy blows, they used cutters to attain circles of glass; duct tape to hide the circles, to stop shattering and muffle the sound; and a rubber suction cup to drag the items out.

They opened 3 instances and bagged 22 prizes: emeralds, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and gem-laden bracelets, brooches and rings. In the end, they went out the window, climbed down and walked away, encountering a number of cops on their beat.

“Excellent night, officials,” Murphy mentioned. They gave him a nod and stored strolling.

Tomorrow, as headlines at the heist hit the streets, Murphy and Kuhn flew to Miami and stashed the loot in pouches below Kuhn’s boat in Biscayne Bay.

Their liberty was once brief.

A lodge clerk tipped off police. Within the penthouse, investigators discovered a museum surface plan, brochures on its gem collections and shoes with glass shards at the soles. Their seek was once interrupted when Clark walked in. He admitted to the robbery and mentioned Murphy and Kuhn had taken the gemstones to Miami. An afternoon later, all 3 have been in custody.

Part the lacking gemstones, together with the Big name of India and the Nighttime Big name, have been recovered via a New York prosecutor, Maurice Nadjari, who promised Kuhn leniency for revealing the hiding position. Nadjari discovered the gemstones in a Miami bus station locker, the place they’d been stashed via a Kuhn accomplice after retrieving them from below the boat.

Murphy and his companions served about two years each and every at Rikers Island in New York. The Big name of India and the Nighttime Big name ultimately went again on show on the herbal historical past museum, now extra in style than they’d ever been earlier than. So did the DeLong Big name Ruby, which was once recovered in a Miami telephone sales space after $25,000 in ransom was once paid. Any other prize, the Eagle Diamond, was once by no means recovered.

Whilst Kuhn and Clark resumed nameless lives, Murphy’s crimes deepened. In 1967, he and a Miami thug, Jack Griffith, met Terry Rae Frank and Annelie Mohn, secretaries who had stolen $500,000 in securities from a California brokerage the place they labored. Prosecutors later mentioned Murphy had conspired with the ladies within the robbery, and gave them a hideout in Miami.

Murphy and Griffith took the ladies on their closing experience: a middle of the night speedboat tour to Hollywood, north of Miami, ostensibly to talk about doing away with the securities (price $four million in these days’s greenbacks). However in a waterway known as Whiskey Creek, the ladies have been bludgeoned and hacked to loss of life, and their our bodies, anchored with concrete blocks, have been dumped overboard.

Traced throughout the stolen securities, Murphy and Griffith have been charged with the killings. In a 1969 trial in Castle Lauderdale, they blamed each and every different for the murders and have been each convicted. Griffith was once sentenced to 45 years and Murphy to lifestyles in jail.

After 17 years in Florida prisons, Murphy was once launched in 1986, vowing to spend his last years on “God’s industry.” For 3 many years, supported via teams just like the World Community of Jail Ministries, he traveled from his house in Crystal River to evangelise to inmates in a dozen nations.

He seemed on Christian pronounces and at prison rehabilitation meetings, once in a while with an entourage of main league athletes and in style singers. In 2000, the Florida Parole Board ended his lifetime parole.

In media accounts of Murphy’s later lifestyles, the murders of Frank and Mohn was footnotes to the supposedly extra alluring stories of his jail ministry and the heist on the American Museum of Herbal Historical past.

“The streamlined legend of Murph the Surf has lengthy overshadowed the nuanced conundrum of Jack Roland Murphy’s core,” as Sports activities Illustrated put it. “Are many years spent sacrificing for others sufficient to catch up on a couple of moments of savagery on Whiskey Creek?”

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