Buried Alive, or How Singing Helped a Girl Survive Three Days in the Grave

Buried Alive, or How Singing Helped a Girl Survive Three Days in the Grave

Categories: History | North America | Society

Kidnapping is considered one of the most serious crimes worldwide. Not surprisingly, criminals go out of their way to avoid exposure. Therefore, they try to carefully hide their victims, while showing truly diabolical resourcefulness. 20-year-old American Barbara Jane Mackle (Barbara Jane Mackle) kidnappers hid underground, in a real grave, putting her in a specially prepared coffin.

Buried Alive, or How Singing Helped a Girl Survive Three Days in the Grave

Barbara was kidnapped in December 1968 from a hotel in Georgia where she was staying with her mother. They were driving home to Atlanta from Mackle's college. Mom took her daughter from the student campus because she was sick. At that time, the Hong Kong flu epidemic was raging in the world, costing the lives, according to various estimates, from 1 to 4 million people.

Buried Alive, or How Singing Helped a Girl Survive Three Days in the Grave

On December 17, two policemen knocked on the door of the room where the mother and daughter were staying. Visitors reported that Barbara Stuart Woodworth's fiancé had an accident. When they were let into the room, they attacked the women. Miss Mackle was sedated with chloroform, and Barbara was pushed into a car at gunpoint and driven away.

Of course, they weren't cops. One of the officers was 23-year-old recidivist Gary Christ, who had just been released from prison. His partner was actually a woman dressed in a male uniform. The accomplice's name was Ruth Eisemann-Schier, and she also had a rich criminal past.

Buried Alive, or How Singing Helped a Girl Survive Three Days in the Grave

Krist embarked on the slippery slope of a life of crime at the age of 14. He received his first conviction for theft. Then there were sentences for other thefts and car thefts. Leaving prison for the last time, Gary decided not to deal with small things anymore. He planned to kidnap a member of some wealthy family for a substantial ransom. After working through several options, the criminal chose the daughter of an American millionaire Barbara Mackle.

The blindfolded girl was brought to a secluded place where everything was prepared for the terrible operation. Barbara was placed in a box lined with fiberglass, similar to an ordinary coffin. Inside was an air pump connected to tubes, a battery operated lamp, some food and a supply of drinking water. The thieves prudently added a sedative to the water. Nearby was a shallow trench.

Buried Alive, or How Singing Helped a Girl Survive Three Days in the Grave

Barbara, lying in a box, was photographed with a poster that read "Kidnapped". After that, the box was closed, put in a trench and covered with earth. Later, in her book 83 Hours Till Dawn, Mackle wrote:

The girl was in a terrible position. The pump worked by pumping air into the box through tubes from the surface. There was water and food nearby. But it wasn't too reassuring. Barbara did not know what the villains had in mind and was afraid that she would simply be left in the grave. In order not to panic, she began to remember various pleasant moments from her life, and then she began to sing Christmas carols.

Buried Alive, or How Singing Helped a Girl Survive Three Days in the Grave

Despite the fact that Mackle tried to distract herself, she was constantly visited by terrible thoughts. She got much worse after the batteries in the lamp ran out. Despair increasingly began to roll over the girl:

It should be said right away that Gary Crist chose Barbara not by chance. He needed a man for whom a ransom would be paid, but there was one more condition. The kidnapper chose a victim in good health who could survive several days of captivity underground. He was not mistaken, and the girl passed this test with honor, having lain in the coffin for more than three days.

Buried Alive, or How Singing Helped a Girl Survive Three Days in the Grave

Krist and his accomplice sent a letter with a picture of Barbara to her father, Florida real estate developer Robert Mackle. They demanded a ransom of $500,000, which today is $3.5 million (265 million rubles). Of course, the father agreed to pay the appointed amount. But by the time the criminals agreed with him to transfer the money, Barbara had been in the grave for two days.

The first attempt to transfer money was unsuccessful. The kidnappers were frightened off by a random police car in a conditional place. Nevertheless, the law enforcement officers, sitting in ambush, managed to examine the car of the kidnappers. The second time the transmission also failed. The girl's parents were horrified - every minute they hoped less and less for a successful outcome.

Buried Alive, or How Singing Helped a Girl Survive Three Days in the Grave

But the police and the FBI wasted no time. They managed to find out that the criminals' car was registered to a certain George Deacon. Having found out who this person was, the investigators realized that the first clue had appeared. Deacon made a living by producing ventilated boxes. It soon became clear that Gary Christ was hiding under this name. After that, the identity of the second criminal, Ruth Eisemann-Shir, was also established.

During the third attempt to transfer the money to the kidnappers, everything went smoothly. Robert Mackle was never told where his daughter was. But it didn't matter anymore. The FBI agents were able to locate the place where the villains had set up their headquarters, and nearby they found a mound of fresh earth that looked like a grave. When the lid of Barbara's box opened, her first words were to the federal agent: "You are the most beautiful man I have ever seen." The girl was emaciated, but completely healthy.

Buried Alive, or How Singing Helped a Girl Survive Three Days in the Grave

The thieves were soon arrested. They were tried and Krist received 10 years in prison, and his partner Ruth - 4 years. Surprisingly, this was the last conviction of professional criminal Krist. Having fully served his term, he tied up with the past and trained as a doctor. Ruth Eisemann-Shir, having been released, left for her homeland, in Honduras.

Barbara Mackle has had a good life. She married her boyfriend Stuart and had four children with him. The couple still lives in Florida and is already raising grandchildren. Barbara Jane Mackle's book, 83 Hours Till Dawn, written shortly after the monstrous story, became a bestseller and has been translated into many languages.

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