Florida crime headlines of the 1960s were dominated by the capers of Jack “Murph the Surf” Murphy. Born in 1938, prodigy violinist, surfing champ and stuntman Murphy was convicted of a New York jewel heist and later, the murder of one of two women found bludgeoned to death in Broward County’s Whiskey Creek waterway.
Murphy, along with robbery mastermind Allan Kuhn, and Roger Clark were nabbed a few days after their 1964 theft of the 563-carot Star of India, the Midnight Sapphire, the de Long Ruby and about 20 other gems from New York's American Museum of Natural History. Poor security was faulted. The trio left their fingerprints all over a window and display case, leading to their arrest.
A few months later, an anonymous tip led police to the uninsured Star of India sapphire at a Trailways Bus station locker in Miami. The de Long Ruby was recovered in September 1965 in a phone booth near the Palm Beach Gardens exit off the turnpike. Businessman and philanthropist John D. MacArthur paid a $25,000 ransom for the historic jewel “as a public service.”
Murphy and Kuhn, who were living at Brickell Town House in Miami at the time of the heist, were sentenced to three years. They were released two and a half years later for good behavior. Murph’s good behavior did not extend past his release.
On Dec. 8, 1967 the bludgeoned bodies of two women, Terry Rae Frank, 24 and Annelie Mohn, 21 were found in Whiskey Creek, south of Port Everglades. The California secretaries were involved in a securities scam; prosecutors suggested Murphy and accomplices did not want to share proceeds with the women. The glamorous playboy was convicted in 1968 and sentenced to life for the crime.
Murphy’s story, which includes dropped charges for pistol whipping actress Eva Gabor at Miami’s Racquet Club, was brought to the silver screen in the 1975 movie, Murph the Surf, co-written by crime partner Allan Kuhn. It starred Robert Conrad and Donna Mills and was filmed in Miami. But Murphy’s story was not over. He found religion, became an ordained minister and was released on parole in 1986. In 2000 his parole was terminated. He now lives in coastal central Florida (he was forbidden to return to Dade and Broward counties) with his family. Jack Roland Murphy continues to work with a prison ministry around the world and has written a book, Jewels for the Journey. Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.
Miami News, Jan. 8, 1965
Miami News, Sept. 3, 1965
Miami News, Sept. 1, 1967
Miami News, Oct. 23, 1986
Tags: Florida crime history, Jack Murph the Surf Murphy, Jack Roland Murphy, Whiskey Creek murders, film industry researcher, Florida film research, historical researcher