On first glance, 27-year-old Jack Roland Murphy, originally from Oceanside, California, seemed like your average fun-loving surfer.
But in reality, he was a mastermind criminal who helped pull off one of the biggest heists in American history.
Three years after he was released from prison, he was arrested again, this time for the murder of a woman named Terry Rae Frank
It appeared as though he was destined for fame from a young age. He was a talented violinist, and performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as a kid.
A brand new docuseries is set to lay bare the harrowing story. Jack Murphy in 2006.
19 September 23
As reported in the UK’s Daily Mail: A brand new docuseries is laying bare the harrowing story of a champion surfer who went on to become a notorious jewel thief - and a cold-blooded killer.
On first glance, 27-year-old Jack Roland Murphy, originally from Oceanside, California, seemed like your average fun-loving surfer dude. But in reality, he was a mastermind criminal who helped pull off one of the biggest heists in American history.
In October 1964, the then-27-year-old, along with two of his friends - Allan Kuhn and Roger Clark - broke into the Museum of Natural History and snatched the coveted 563.35-carat Star of India sapphire, which is one of the largest gems in the world and is bigger than a golf ball, alongside a series of other jewels.
And when the trio was caught for the elaborate break-in two days later, Murphy, who better became known as Murf the Surf, was quickly propelled into the spotlight.
The robbery attracted national attention, and many became enthralled with the tan-skinned, blue-eyed beach boy - thanks to his undeniably good looks, quick-witted personality, and over-confidence, as well as his complete lack of remorse over the crime.
However, Murphy's fame was short-lived - as he was charged with murder in 1969 for the killing of a 24-year-old woman, which landed him with life in prison and quickly shattered the growing affection he had garnered from the media.
The surfer-turned-killer's rollercoaster ride story transfixed the nation at the time, and it is now being retold in a new, four-part docuseries by MGM+, called Murf the Surf, which premiered on February 5.
It appeared as though Murphy was destined for fame from a young age. He was a talented violinist as a kid, and performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony, as well as a star-athlete, earning a tennis scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, all before he became a two-time national surfing champion.
Murphy grew up in a 'tense' household, with a childhood friend telling Sports Illustrated that he once witness his dad 'slap Murphy across the face for washing the dishes too slowly.'
Despite earning a full-ride to the University of Pittsburgh, Murphy dropped out midway through college and moved to Florida, where he married a woman named Gloria Sostoc. They welcomed two children together, sons named Shawn and Michael, before splitting in 1962.
In his 20s, he started surfing competitively while also working at a resort in Miami. It was during this time that he said he was introduced to the life of crime by Kuhn.
Together, they would rob customers of the hotel he worked at - before they moved to breaking into waterfront mansions together.
Eventually, the idea to steal the gems from the museum came to him after Kuhn pointed out how terrible its security systems were.
Allan said he could hear the jewels talking, Murphy told the New York Times in 2019. "The jewels are saying, ‘Take us to Miami.'" So I said, 'Well, let’s take them to Miami."'
The burglar alarm system was non-operational at the time, and many of the windows leading to the room the jewels were in were left open overnight for ventilation.
The men reportedly scaled the fence around the museum, climbed up a fire escape, and got in through one of the opened windows.
Murphy and his accomplices were arrested days later, after employees at a hotel they were staying at heard them bragging about the theft.
They plead guilty to burglary and grand larceny, and were sentenced to three years in prison.
But Murf the Surf's crimes did not end there. Three years after he was released from jail, he was arrested again, this time for the murder of a woman named Terry Rae Frank.
It was believed that Murphy worked with a man named Jack Griffith during the murder, who was also arrested.
Frank's body was found in the Whiskey Creek Canal alongside another woman, named Annelle Marie Mohn, but there was not enough evidence to link the men to Mohn's death.
Both Frank and Mohn had been accused of stealing nearly $500,000 worth of stock from the brokerage firm that they worked for, called Jackson & Gray, and they had been living with Murphy at the time of their deaths.
While in prison, Murphy turned to religion and claimed he had been renewed by his newfound love of God.
He began teaching Bible studies to other inmates, and thanks to good behavior, was released on parole in 1986. He spent his remaining years serving as a minister, visiting prisons all over the US to preach.
The crook also released a memoir about his experience, entitled Jewels for the Journey.
He married a woman named Kitten, and opened a surf shop in Indialantic, Florida. He died in 2020, at age 83, due to heart and organ failure.
- AUTHOR: LILLIAN GISSEN
- SOURCE: THE DAILY MAIL UK