Transcript: 114. Murf the Surf | USA

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The two bodies police found at Whiskey Creek near Fort Lauderdale had both been weighted down with cement blocks. They had been brutally beaten, stabbed and shot. The location and manner of the disposal made one thing very clear: they were not meant to be found.

Police were able to identify the victims as 23-year-old Terry Frank and 21-year-old Annelle (Anna-lee) Mohn. They were from California and presumably went to Florida on vacation. Both were wearing bikinis that indicated they had probably been out on a boat on the Intercoastal Waterway.

The investigation into their untimely deaths led police to the door of someone they knew really well – an amicable beach-boy turned diamond thief. Jack Murphy was one of three men who had gained infamy by committing one of the biggest jewel heists on the 20th Century. But what was his connection to Terry and Annelle? Could this fast-talking, high flying, ex-surfing champion have evolved into a cold-blooded killer?

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Jack Roland Murphy was born on the 26th of May 1936 in Oceanside, California. He was an only child, and they moved around a lot when he was a child, mostly around California. His father worked at a telephone company as a lineman, and his mom was a housewife.

Growing up in California, Jack often went to the beach, and he loved surfing. The beach was his second home, he spent most of his time there. But Jack was more than just a beach bum, he would later insist that there was a difference between a beach bum and a beach boy. A bum was a parasite, a beach boy was not. Jack excelled at school and soon also showed an aptitude for playing the violin.

When Jack was in high school, the family moved to Pennsylvania. This was quite an adjustment for someone like Jack, who loved sand and sea. During this time, he continued to do well at school. At the young age of 17, he played violin in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He was also granted a tennis scholarship with the University of Pittsburgh.

Shortly after starting college in 1955, he dropped out. The snow and grit in Pittsburgh stifled Jack, who was a born beach boy. On one cold and snowy day, he jumped on a train and left. He needed sunshine in his life, no matter what. He spent some time in California before making his way to Miami. When he arrived, Jack didn’t have any trouble landing a job. He worked at hotels, weaving palm hats on the beach, stacking beach loungers and sometimes doing diving tricks.

With his tennis accolades, Jack became a tennis coach, working at upmarket hotels and resorts. When a job to give swimming lessons came up, Jack was only too happy to take it on also. He had a lot of free time to surf and made a name for himself in local surfing competitions, turning a lot of heads.

Jack was in the prime of his life. He was witty and sharp-minded – he loved movies about savvy criminals, like Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief. He had a romanticized view of what it meant to be a criminal: a sophisticated gentleman, smarter than law enforcement, who got away with the spoils. This smooth criminal almost always had a beautiful woman on his arm. This was what Jack wanted for himself.

His work at glitzy hotels put Jack in contact with all sorts of people. He became acquainted with a fellow swimming instructor, a young man who was popular with the ladies, Allan Kuhn (Cue-n). Allan hailed from Missouri where he grew up with his sister and their single mother. They never had much money, and Kuhn knew that he never wanted to live like that when he grew up. After his service in the NAVY, Allan decided to head to Miami, where he found work at the Casablanca Hotel. He was earning good enough money if you counted all the tips he made, but Allan knew he needed more adventure in his life.

When he accidentally walked into a room where another hotel employee introduced him to a jewel thief, his interest was piqued. The man was unable to finish a job, as aa cop’s bullet had grazed his arm. The thief dared Allan to complete the job, which he did, successfully. It was the beginning of a new, rather lucrative chapter for the clean-cut ex-marine. Allan loved the thrill of thieving.

Like Allan, Jack Murphy needed excitement in his life too. Together the two sun-tanned, muscular swimmers hustled one hotel guest after the other. They were making loads of money stealing jewels from wealthy divorcées who vacationed in Miami, more than any other job would pay.

But there was a limit to how much they could get from hotel guests without raising suspicion. They expanded their operation and broke into mansions on the Intercoastal Waterway. Instead of using a getaway vehicle at the residence, they used Jack, who was an incredibly strong swimmer, to swim to a rendezvous point. He handed the loot over to a driver, and they escaped without detection. For his first job, Jack’s cut was a cool-and-easy fifteen grand.

The more he became involved with thieving, the more Jack Murphy began to appreciate jewels and their value. And ultimately – how easy it was to steal them. His work at upscale hotels put him in contact with many wealthy guests. Stealing their prized jewels was as easy as taking candy from a child. Jack and his accomplice, Allan Kuhn, knew that the jewels were insured and the fact that no one got hurt justified this source of income for them. They saw themselves as Robin Hood-like thieves: they stole from the rich to fund their beach-hanging, sun-worshipping lifestyle.

In 1957, Jack met Gloria Sostoc, who came from a wealthy family. She was working at a hotel when she met Jack, and a 9-day whirlwind romance ended in marriage. They had two children before they split up in 1962, after being together for five years.

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The single-again Jack was thriving. He became State surfing champion who went on to win the National Hurricane Surfing championship in 1963. Tall, dark and handsome, Jack was the ultimate 1960’s beach-boy icon, with the fame and legend that came with being a championship surfer. He was the one and only ‘Murf the Surf’. It didn’t take him long to find a second wife and the couple moved to Cocoa Beach where Jack opened a surfboard shop.

After a disagreement with shareholders, the shop closed its doors, and Jack decided to head back to Miami. He spent a lot of time with Allan Kuhn, who, thanks to other people’s jewellery, had a flashy lifestyle with all the trimmings: a Cadillac convertible, a yacht and a speedboat. They spent their time partying and boozing, which ultimately led to the breakdown of Jack’s second marriage. In later years, Allan claimed that he would never have splashed out as he did if Jack wasn’t there to egg him on. Be that as it may, the two twenty-somethings were a potent combination together.

In 1964, Jack accepted Allan Kuhn’s invitation to go to New York with himself and another friend, Roger Clark. Roger came from Connecticut and – like Allan – ended up in Miami after his military service. All reports about Roger are positive: he was cool, calm and collected – just an all-round nice guy.

Jack, Allan and Roger rolled into New York in Allan’s white Cadillac and stayed in the luxury penthouse at the Cambridge House hotel on West 86th Street. They were handsome beach boys in their twenties who dressed well and could charm their way out of any situation. While staying at Cambridge House, they committed a couple thefts, but nothing extreme. They mainly ripped off wealthy hotel guests with quick cons or by breaking into their rooms.

But soon they wanted something more significant. The three men felt invincible; like they could operate outside of the law, just by being their handsome, charming, sun-tanned selves. It was time to take on the ultimate dare: a heist that would make waves around the world. In an interview with Vanity Fair many years later, Jack Murphy said:

“Just like mountain climbers and skiers, as a jewel thief, you go for the challenge. It’s dangerous it’s glamorous, there’s an adrenalin rush. We couldn’t just keep doing Palm Beach.”

According to Jack, they had not planned the museum heist before going to New York. Their initial plan was to steal from a wealthy Hamptons socialite. The plan to rob New York’s American Museum of Natural History was hatched one night over many drinks. Little did they know that this plan was to become the Jewel Heist of the Century.

The three men cased the museum and collected pamphlets with information about the layout of the building. They also purchased booklets about gemstones on display at the museum. They had their eyes on the carefully curated JP Morgan collection.

It didn’t take them long to learn that security was almost non-existent. Due to budget cuts, security staff had been let go. The hall was protected by iron gates, ceiling-high with a lock and chain. But, At night, windows were left open a crack, about 2 inches, for ventilation. In that wing of the museum, there was only one guard on duty, armed with a flashlight, who sporadically patrolled the Hall of Gems. They also noticed that corrosion on the battery of the alarm connected to the display box hosting the famous ‘Star of India’ sapphire.

Jack recalled what they were thinking in an interview with the New York Times years later. His words:

“Allan said he could hear the jewels talking. He said, ‘The jewels are saying, ‘Take us to Miami.’ So I said, ‘Well, let’s take them to Miami.’”

The men weren’t scared even – the job was so easy, Jack claimed it was almost as simple as going bowling.

On Thursday night, the 29th of October, the men were ready to execute the heist. Roger Clark drove the white Cadillac and parked on Columbus Avenue near 79th Street. He waited in the car, armed with a walkie talkie. Nice-guy Roger in the flashy convertible did not arouse any suspicion, no one would have thought that he was actually a getaway driver.

Jack and Allan were dressed in black and had some basic tools with them. They knew exactly where to go and made their way to a hidden courtyard around the back, from where they scaled the wall of the building, steading themselves on an iron fence to reach the fire escape. This enabled them to climb up to the fifth floor, where they forced open a fire exit door. From there they stealthily ran to an office, that was located right above the Gem Hall. Using tape from Venetian blinds, they climbed out the window and lowered themselves down. As they had noticed during their recon – the windows were open, so getting inside was no problem.

Although Jack and Allan reckoned to break into the museum was a piece of cake, a police officer later said that…

“They were very, very athletic, these guys, and they were not rookies at this. They had done plenty of this already down in Florida.”

They took a gamble regarding the alarms, but they had been right. The batteries were out of date, which meant the alarms guarding the gem display cases were out of order. The jewels had been on display in the museum for 70 years, and no one had ever attempted to take them. Jack and Allan had all the time in the world to take the stones they had identified before the heist. They could simply break the glass and load their pockets.

In the days leading up to the robbery, they had watched from the outside of the museum as the security guard’s flashlight lit up the room. He was as predictable as clockwork, and they knew precisely how much time was needed between his rounds.  

They worked carefully to be as quiet as possible. Using duct tape before cutting a circle with glass cutters, they managed to keep the noise down, as it prevented the glass from shattering. They swept up the shards as they went, so the guard wouldn’t notice anything when he came around. When they heard his footsteps, they hid, waited for him to leave, then resumed their swift operation. Once they were satisfied with their selection, they exited through the window and made their way back down the building. Roger Clark was still waiting in the Cadilac on Columbus Avenue.

The men calmly got into the car, and Roger drove off. No screeching tyres or high-speed chases, just three surfer dudes from Florida, out for a night on the town. The group decided it was time to celebrate! With the invaluable jewels carefully zipped into airline shoulder bags, they headed to a jazz bar to spend the rest of the night having cocktails and blowing off steam.

Back at the hotel, Allan Kuhn met up with Janet Florkiewicz. She lived in Staten Island and had met the three partying beach boys during their stay in New York. Allan charmed her into believing he loved her and convinced her to go to Miami with him. He slipped the valuable gems into a ladies’ vanity bag and asked her to carry it onto the plane. Not knowing what she had become involved with, Janet left New York for Miami with Allan Kuhn and Jack Murphy. The group sat apart on the flight and pretended not to know each other.

When museum staff arrived the next morning, they discovered the carnage of the robbery and immediately informed the police. Glass cabinets were broken, and displays stood empty. Many officers were brought to the scene to investigate, along with newspaper photographers. Everybody was blown away by the cunning nature of the crime. Because of the tools they used, investigators felt that they were not professionals, as it was pretty basic for the job at hand.

Also, a discerning jewel thief would typically steal something that he could sell. But in this case, some of the most unique and identifiable stones in the world were taken. The gems were donated to the museum in 1901, as they were deemed to famous to ever be sold. No one in their right mind would have wanted to purchase the loot, as the whole world knew it had been stolen.

The museum calculated the value to be more than $400,000 – that is about $3Million in today’s terms. In actual fact, they could not put a price on the loss – the gems were irreplaceable. All up, 24 precious gems were taken. Among them was the sunny-coloured 16.25-carat Eagle Diamond, the 161 carat Midnight Star Sapphire and the 100 carat DeLong Star Ruby. This red cabochon-cut ruby from Burma was included in the collection thanks to its generous owner, socialite Edith Haggin DeLong.

But the gem that caused the most significant uproar was the world-famous ‘Star of India’. This 563.35 carat, golf ball-sized star sapphire is almost flawless and was discovered in Ceylon nearly 300 years ago. It is one of the most identifiable objects in the world.

There was a lot of pressure on police to catch the daring thieves, but more importantly, to get the gems back to the museum.

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Back to the the fall-out of the jewel heist at the Museum of Natural History in October 1964…

A staff member at the Cambridge House Hotel informed police about the extravagant guests who had cleared off as soon as news of the heist hit the headlines. The hotel employee thought that the men had abandoned their room. He had not seen them around and let police into the room. The men had left loads of incriminating evidence behind, like the tools they used to break open the display cases and sneakers with broken glass stuck on the soles.

Witnesses from the hotel informed the police about Janet Florkiewicz and her connection to the men from Florida. As luck would have it, just as they heard about Janet for the first time, police received a call from her roommate. She said that Janet had called and said she was in Florida and that something fishy was going on. She also mentioned that she was being held against her will.

Roger Clark had gone up to Connecticut to visit his family as soon as Jack and Allan left New York. He made the mistake of returning to the hotel room, where he was arrested by police lying in wait. After many hours of interrogation, Roger confessed to his part in the burglary and implicated Jack Murphy and Allan Kuhn as the masterminds. He was released on a $12,000 bond.

Police had no trouble to track down Jack and Allan in Miami, as they had gone straight to Allan’s apartment. Both were arrested within 48 hours of the crime. When Miami police arrived, Allan wasn’t there, only Jack, Janet and Jack’s girlfriend Bonnie Lou Sutera, who had picked them up at the airport. As soon as Allan Kuhn came back home, he was taken into custody too. Bonnie Lou had nothing to do with the heist, so she was let go. When Allan learnt that it was Janet who had led police to them, he reportedly said:

“That’s what happens when you fool around with square broads.”

Janet was sent back to New York, where she was held in protective custody for three months. At first, she claimed that she never knew anything about the heist, but later admitted that she did actually see the gems in her bag before they travelled to Miami. Later Janet recanted the admission and said she had made it up to please her interrogators as she was afraid they’d send her to prison if she didn’t co-operate. She said it just to give them something. Bear in mind, Janet was 19 at the time. She loved to party and got in way over her head when she met Allan and his friends. She was completely shaken up by events and spent the rest of her life trying to forget about the whole ordeal.

At the time of Jack and Allan’s arrest in Miami, they had already hidden the jewels and would not reveal their location. In fact, they denied any involvement in the crime, so there was not much evidence against them. They were kept in custody in Miami for a while, before being released on bail.

The case had drummed up major media attention, and the gang reached celebrity status. During a press conference, they were relaxed and made wisecracks, clearly loving all the attention. Jack even complained about his arrest, as it meant he couldn’t go to Hawaii to compete in a surfing competition. The public loved their guts and cheered them on.

On the 18th of November – three weeks after the caper – Jack, Allan and Roger were extradited back to New York. A crowd of reporters waited as their plane touched down. The men were relaxed and did not seem concerned about their court appearance in the least. They said they had gone for a swim in Miami in the morning and didn’t even pack a bag, as they were expecting to be bailed out. They seemed more concerned about correcting journalists who called them beach bums than they were about going to prison.

And they were right: after being charged with first-degree burglary and possession of burglary tools, their bail was set at $32,000. They were released the same day and cheered on by the crowd outside the courtroom as they left to go back to Florida. They were seen as charming playboys who outsmarted law enforcement, and through skill and cunning managed to break into a museum that was considered to be impenetrable.

Prosecutor Maurice Nadjari was not about to give up. His instinct told him that Jack and Allan must have been in trouble before and dug up their past. When the men returned to New York in Jan 1965 to renew their bail, they were arrested. A desk clerk at the Algonquin Hotel had recognised Jack Murphy as a robber who had assaulted him before taking $250 off him in July 1964. Although Jack denied that he had ever seen the man, the man’s testimony was enough to take him in.

The Prosecutor had another stroke of luck. Famous actress Eva Gabor saw Jack and Allan’s photo’s in the newspaper and identified them as the burglars who had attacked her and her husband. The incident occurred back in January of 1964 at a Miami hotel. Jack and Allan waited in Eva and Richard Brown’s hotel room and them when they came back from a night out. Eva was pistol-whipped and tied up while Richard was forced to open the safe, where Eva kept a 25,000 dollar diamond ring. They also ripped the earrings out of her ears and left both Eva and Richard tied up and bruised. The total takings of the robbery were valued at 50,000 dollars.

The actress dropped the charges, seeing as her acting schedule in Los Angeles didn’t allow for time to appear in court on the east coast. Nevertheless, the report of this incident convinced the judge in New York to raise all three museum burglars’ bail to $150,000 – an amount none of them could fork out, so they were forced to remain in jail.

Allan Kuhn did not want to spend the best years of his life in prison. He offered information about the location of the jewels in return for a lighter sentence. In an unprecedented move, prosecutor Maurice Nadjari snuck Allan out of jail and took him back to Miami. They went to a couple of hotels and bars where Allan met with connections, had drinks and muffled conversations.

The press got wind of the story and followed prosecutor Nadjari, Allan Kuhn and two detectives around Miami. The group tried to keep a low profile, hiding, sneaking out back entrances, swapping vehicles, but somehow, the press always knew where they were. At 3am on the 8th of January, an informer called the hotel where the group was staying. In the end, it was the informer who revealed the location of the gems, not Allan Kuhn.

The priceless ‘Star of India’, along with eight other gems, had been stashed in a footlocker at a Miami bus station. Brown suede containing the gems pouches were wet, and the assumption was that it had been hidden the sea. However, when it was tested, the water wasn’t saltwater. Either way, they had the gems back, wherever it had been before. It was a great relief, as the District Attorney had instructed Nadjari before the group left New York:

“If you don’t get the jewels, don’t bother coming back.”

In April 1965, Jack, Allan and Roger all pleaded guilty to burglary and grand larceny and were sentenced to three years. They were sent to prison at Rikers Island. Because Allan Kuhn co-operated with law enforcement, all three sentences were reduced to two years.

Allan claimed that he had asked his friend, yacht broker-slash-gangster Dick Pearson if he could bury some of the gems in his backyard. However, when he returned to dig up the jewels, the DeLong Ruby wasn’t there. Allan always suspected that Dick was the one who had dug it up and kept it.

Dick Pearson told reporter Francis P Antel that he would return the ruby in exchange for 25,000 dollars. Insurance mogul, John D MacArthur offered to donate the ransom money, as long as the ruby was returned to the Museum of Natural History.

The go-between was Antel. He was instructed to go to a specific phone booth. He took a call and was told to go to yet another booth. Once there, the caller said to look above the door – and there it was… One of the most valuable gemstones in the world! An expert was on standby to confirm its authenticity.

Pearson was later arrested and $100 bills found on him at the time, matched the serial numbers of the ransom money for the DeLong Star Ruby. He was convicted, sentenced to 10 years in prison – far longer than any of the other men received.

A sore point in the investigation was the fact that they never were able to find the Eagle Diamond. The Eagle Diamond was the largest diamond ever recovered in the US at the time of its discovery. It was discovered in 1876 by Charles Wood in Eagle, Wisconsin. The significance of this diamond was that it was the only diamond ever found in Wisconsin, and its geological and historical importance was invaluable. After the Museum of Natural History caper, it was never seen again. The assumption is that it had been broken up into smaller pieces and sold-on by Jack, Allan and Roger, to pay their legal fees.

After Allan Kuhn and Roger Clark were released from prison, they cleaned up their act and never clashed with the law again. Allan eventually moved to Northern California where he lived in a small mountain town, and tried to remain invisible. Roger found a job as a golf pro. He did this for a while, before moving to Vermont, where he worked in a restaurant for many years.

Although his co-conspirators went on the straight and narrow, Jack’ Murf, the Surf’ Murphy was not done. In fact, when he was released from Rikers, he said he ‘didn’t give a damn about anything anymore.’

He was involved in drug heists, jewel theft – anything that could bring in some money to fund the lifestyle he wished to have.

He stayed in contact with Allan and visited him in California. In 1967, they met two bright and adventurous young ladies one night and immediately saw an opportunity. 23-year-old Terry Frank and 21-year-old Annelle Mohn worked at a brokerage firm, Rutner, Jackson & Gray in Los Angeles.

Terry and Annelle were employed as secretaries, but they had access to stock documentation. It’s not clear who came up with the idea to steal stocks as Jack claimed it was Allan who convinced the girls and Allan reckoned it was all Jack. Either way, it was decided that the girls would take the stocks, quit their jobs, then go to Florida where Jack would help them move the stocks. Terry Frank had a forgery conviction behind her name, but she was definitely not a hardened criminal.

The girls followed the plan, thereby risking their careers in this fraudulent endeavour. When Jack got his hands on the stocks, he realised that he actually had no idea what to do with it. The value of these stocks has been disputed over the years, with the amount ranging from 400,000 to many millions. Jack Murphy claimed it was worth 900,000.

At a loss as to what to do, Jack gave the stocks out, telling his underworld connections to sell them. Terry and Annelle had been staying at a hotel in Florida and were running out of money. They were forced to move in with Jack for a while and grew impatient: they wanted their money.

Because the girls weren’t experienced fraudsters, they did not realise how big a cut everyone would take. They thought that they would take the lion’s share, but this wasn’t the case. Everyone who touched the stocks wanted their cut.

Back in Los Angeles, their former employer discovered the fraud and suspected the women, as they had quit at the same time and left the state.

The girls were put pressure on Jack to complete the job so they could get on with their lives. But they overplayed their hands – they did not realise how dangerous their host was.

In December 1967, the bodies of Terry Rae Frank and Annelle Marie Mohn were found in Whiskey Creek Canal, in the John U Lloyd Beach State Park south of Fort Lauderdale. They had suffered a brutal death: both had been bludgeoned, stabbed in the stomachs and thrown overboard. Investigators concluded that Annelle tried to get back onto the boat, but was met with a gunshot to the head.

Once both girls had perished, their killers tied them to cement blocks and sunk them into the water.

It did not take police long to link Terry and Annelle’s murders to Murf the Surf. A man called Jack Griffith, also known as karate Jack, was overheard talking about committing the murders with Jack Murphy at a bar. A witness told police, and both Jack Murphy and Jack Griffith were arrested. The men denied committing the murders and blamed it on a third man they simply knew as Rusty.

According to Jack Murphy, himself, Terry, Annelle, Jack Griffith and another shady character only known as Rusty went out on a boat to go water-skiing. The girls brought up the issue of the money owed to them and threatened to go to the FBI if they weren’t given a larger share of the stocks. According to Murphy, it was Rusty who snapped and killed the girls – it happened as a reflex, so quick – in less than a minute they were both dead.

When Murf and karate Jack realised what had happened, they clicked into motion and set out to ‘clean up the mess’ and conceal the bodies. They took towels and covered the bodies, while Murf drove the boat to an isolated spot, where no one would see what they were up to. This is where they weighted the bodies down with concrete blocks and dumped them in the water.

There is so much in this story that does not add up. Firstly, where did the men get cement blocks from? They were on the water, in a State Park. Also, why did they have a firearm with them if they had gone out for a fun day of water-skiing? Chances are they had planned the murders because the girls were becoming a liability. Threatening criminals about calling the FBI was not something they were going to tolerate.

Another aspect that blows Jack’s story out of the water was an eyewitness, Linda Ousley, who saw the group on the speedboat from where she was standing on the dock. Linda claimed that she could see the passengers clearly – there were only four people on the boat that day: the two young women, and two men fitting the descriptions of Jack Murphy and Jack Griffith.

Police used informers and underground connections, trying their best to find Rusty. They could never find any trace of him and wondered if he ever existed. Jack Murphy said that after he was arrested, his girlfriend and Jack Griffith’s mom worked at the same bar. The women told them about a man who came into the bar and sat in a corner, watching them. He wouldn’t go away, and they felt threatened by his presence. The two Jacks knew it was Rusty, so, from inside the prison, Murf sent some associates to ‘take care of him’. That is why he was never heard from again.

In 1969, Jack Murphy and his accomplice, Jack Griffith, stood trial for the murder of Terry Rae Frank. The Prosecution did not have a lot of evidence – the case was mostly circumstantial. The men were both found guilty, but released on bail. It wouldn’t be long before Jack Murphy committed another crime – this time another robbery, of a wealthy widow, called Olive Wofford. The cunning widow kept her wits about her and triggered a silent alarm. Police arrested Jack’s accomplices at the scene. Jack tried to get away, and jumped through a glass window, injuring himself with severe cuts. Police had to take him to the hospital before locking him up.

This time Jack pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity – on the insistence of his lawyers. He was committed to a mental hospital for months, after which he was deemed fit to stand trial. In March 1968, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison with hard labour. Jack Griffith received 45 years with hard labour. Because both men had received the maximum sentence, they never went to trial for the murder of Annelle Mohn.

While in prison, Jack Murphy was also found guilty for his role in the Wofford robbery – for which he received a second life sentence, with an additional 20 years.

Murf the Surf spent his time in jail learning how to paint. He mainly did seascapes and lighthouses, showing his ever-burning love for the ocean. After an inspirational prison-visit by sporting stars Bill Glass, Roger Staubach and McCoy McLemore in 1974, Jack decided to turn his life around and devoted himself to the Lord. He later commented on his conversion, saying:

“Listen, I loved the life. I loved the insanity. I loved stealing jewels. It was like Cary Grant, very exciting, and the people you stole from always had insurance. But I also know I was out of control and so I had to have a new manager.”

He found his new manager in God. Jack studied scripture and eventually became an ordained minister. Because of his good behaviour, his parole date was moved forward. He impressed the board so much that he was released. In 1986, after serving only 21 years of his two life sentences, Murf the Surf was a free man.

After Jack’s release, he was hired by Bill Glass Champions for life. He made it his life’s mission to work inside prisons, serving as a pastoral carer to inmates. Because of his tireless work in prisons, visiting more than 1,200 facilities after his release, the parole board terminated his life parole sentence in 2000.

Jack Murphy was someone who always excelled at whatever he did: surfing, playing the violin, stealing jewels… It was no surprise that he soon became a Christian celebrity. Murf the Surf was a regular on religious networks and freely agreed to interviews. He wrote a book about his life of crimes, repentance and how he straightened himself out, called Jewels for the Journey. The book won him a Hollywood Angel Award in Evangelism.

In 1997, Jack ‘Murf the Surf’ Murphy was also inducted into the Surfing Legends Hall of Fame, for his lifetime achievement in the sport.

A psychologist who examined Jack after his arrest in 1968 concluded that “he’s top-notch at everything he does“.

Before his death on September 12th of this year, 2020, Jack lived in Crystal River, Florida with his third wife, Mary Catherine Collins (or Kitten as he called her). She was an ABC TV reporter who made a documentary about prisoners who wanted to change and met Jack while he was still in prison.

Of the three men involved in the 1964 jewel heist, Roger Clark was the first to pass away in 2007, due to heart disease. Allan Kuhn passed away in California, in June 2017, after an adventurous life mining gold in Alaska, working on movie sets in Los Angeles and growing medical marijuana.

The Star of India sapphire went back on display in the American Museum of Natural History, after the trial in 1965. This time with a working alarm and its own security guard.

Murf the Surf became a legend in his own time. His larger than life persona, radiating with a charm made him a likeable thug. People secretly wished they could live Murf’s life if given a chance. However, the one part in his incredible life story that one cannot sweep under the rug is the brutal murders at Whiskey Creek.

He got to live to the age of 83, dying of heart failure. He got 60 more years to live his life than either of his victims at Whiskey Creek. Being a cunning jewel thief is one thing, being a cold-blooded murderer is something else altogether. Terry Frank and Annelle Mohn should never only be remembered as an afterthought in the story of Murf the Surf.

When all is said and done, should he not rather be remembered as Murf the Marauder, or even Murf the Murderer?

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