On December 17, 1968, Barbara Jane Mackle, a student at Emory College and the 20-year-old daughter of millionaire real-estate developer is kidnapped from the Rodeway Inn in Decatur, Georgia. Mackle was sick with the flu, and her mother had driven to the Atlanta area to take care of her daughter and then drive her daughter back to the family home in Florida for the Christmas break. A stranger, Gary Steven Krist, knocked on the door claiming to be with the police, and told Mackle that a friend Stewart Hunt Woodward had been in a traffic accident.
Once inside, Krist and his accomplice, Ruth Eisemann-Schier, disguised as a man, chloroformed, bound and gagged Mackle's mother and forced Barbara Jane at gunpoint into the back of their waiting car, informing her that she was being kidnapped. They drove her to a remote area near South Berkeley Lake Road near Duluth and buried Mackle in a shallow trench inside of a fiberglass-reinforced box. The box was outfitted with an air pump, a battery-powered lamp, water laced with sedatives, and food. Two plastic pipes provided Mackle with outside air. Krist and Eisemann-Schier demanded and received a $500,000 ransom from Barbara Jane’s father. The first attempt at a ransom drop was disrupted, when two policemen drove by. The kidnappers fled on foot and the FBI found their car, abandoned. Inside the car, the authorities found, not only documents giving Krist's and Eisemann-Schier's names and former addresses, they also found a photograph of Barbara Jane Mackle in the box holding a sign that read "Kidnapped."
The second ransom drop was successful. On December 20th, Krist called and gave to a switchboard operator of the FBI vague directions to Mackle's burial place. The FBI set up their base in Lawrence, and more than 100 agents spread out through the area in an attempt to find her, digging the ground with their hands and anything they could find to use. Mackle was rescued alive and unharmed. She had spent more than three days underground. Krist was soon arrested off the coast of Florida in a speedboat bought with part of the ransom money. Eisemann-Schier was arrested 79 days later. She was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison, paroled after serving four years. Krist was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1969 but was released on parole after 10 years. Krist received a pardon to allow him to attend medical school. He practiced medicine in Indiana before his license was revoked in 2003 for lying about disciplinary action received during his residency. In March 2006, Krist was arrested on a sailboat off the coast of Alabama for smuggling drugs and was sentenced to five years in prison but released in November, 2010. After the ordeal, Mackle wrote a book about her experience: 83 Hours ‘Til Dawn, published in 1971.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949, the book can be purchased from Amazon or Barnes & Noble through the following links:
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Shocked-California-1849- 1949/dp/0764339680/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352214939&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+thomas+bar