Episode 203:

Live at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta (2018)

The Kidnapping of Barbara Mackle


The Barbie Bandits


Episode 203: Live at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta (2018)

Karen and Georgia cover the kidnapping of Barbara Mackle and the Barbie Bandits. With special guest Chuck Bryant.

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The Kidnapping of Barbara Mackle

The Kidnapping of Barbara Mackle Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Image Sources:

Barbara Mackle’s ransom note picture (Bettman/Getty Images via AllThingsInteresting.com)

The Mackle Family (via FlashBackMiami.com)

Hole/grave Mackle was buried alive in (Getty Images via AllThingsInteresting.com)

Ruth Eisemann-Schier (Bettmann / CORBIS via Time.com)

Gary Steven Krist handcuffed in an FBI car after being caught in Florida in 1968 (Getty Images via AllThingsInteresting.com)

Gary Steven Krist (via Murderpedia.com)


"On December 17, 1968, Mackle, then a 20-year-old Emory University student, was staying at the Rodeway Inn in Decatur, Georgia, United States, with her mother. Mackle was sick with the Hong Kong flu, which had hit the student body population of Emory hard; 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 Coral Gables, Florida, for the Christmas break. A stranger, Gary Stephen Krist, knocked on the door, claiming to be with the police and wearing a policeman's cap, and told Mackle that Stewart Hunt Woodward had been in a traffic accident. (Woodward, to whom Mackle was later married, is usually described as Mackle's boyfriend or fiancé; but, in Mackle's written account, she calls him "a good friend".)

Once inside, Krist and his accomplice, Ruth Eisemann-Schier, disguised as a man, chloroformed, bound and gagged Mackle's mother and forced Barbara Jane Mackle at gunpoint into the back of their waiting car, informing her that she was being kidnapped. They drove her to a remote pine stand off South Berkeley Lake Road in Gwinnett County near Duluth and buried Mackle in a shallow trench inside 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 a $500,000 ransom, $3.5 million in 2018 dollars, from Mackle's father, Robert Mackle, a wealthy Florida land developer. 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 FBI found photographs of a man with a policeman's hat and the car registration in the name of George Deacon.

The second ransom drop was successful, but there was no word from the kidnappers. The FBI was able to trace George Deacon to the University of Miami, where they realized he built ventilated boxes for a living. Deacon's boss provided the name of Ruth Eisemann-Schier, who also worked at the University, as someone Deacon spent time with. The FBI was contacted by a local man in Georgia claiming he had just bought a small trailer from a man and found some odd paperwork inside. The FBI discovered letters addressed to George Deacon and Gary Krist, an escapee from California prison since 1966, and when the FBI compared the prints found in the car to the ones found in Krist's file, they realized Deacon was actually Krist. On December 20, 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 Lawrenceville, Gwinnett’s county seat, 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 found and rescued, suffering from dehydration but otherwise unharmed. She had spent more than three days buried underground.

Mackle was asked how she had remained so positive not only during the kidnapping but after, when she showed no ill effects from the ordeal. She claimed she would imagine spending Christmas with her family and never doubted she would be rescued..."

— Source: Barbara Mackle Kidnapping Wikipedia

The Barbie Bandits

The Barbie Bandits Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

Image Sources:

Heather Lyn Johnston (Jessica McGowan/AJC via AJC.com)

90's Karen stock photo (via alamy.com)

Ashley Miller yearbook photo (via AJC.com)

Bank Security Footage (via Eriklerouge.blogspot.com)

Paris and Nicole (via RedBubble.com)

Barbie Bandits Mugshots (via TheSmokingGun.com)

Barbie Bandits in Court (via GA.prelawland.com)

Ashley and her mom in court (Jessica McGowan/AJC via AJC.com)


"The women plotted with a bank teller and later went shopping

The "Barbie bandits" who went on a shopping spree after they were videotaped wearing sunglasses and laughing during an $11,000 bank heist were sentenced yesterday, one to prison and another to probation.

Ashley Miller, 19, will have to serve only two years of a 10-year prison sentence and must complete the rest on probation. She pleaded guilty to theft and drug charges.

Heather Johnston, 19, was sentenced to 10 years of probation for her role in the February, 2007, heist in Acworth, Ga.

The two were caught on tape as they appeared to rob a Bank of America branch in a supermarket. They admitted to plotting with a teller to take the money and later going on a shopping binge that included a stop in a fashionable hair salon.

Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley urged Miller to learn from her crimes.

"I want you to correct yourself," Judge Staley told Miller, a former exotic dancer. "There's no reason you can't become a productive citizen when you get out of jail."

Miller's mother and sister hugged and kissed her before deputies led her out of the courtroom.

Benny Allen - who worked at the bank as a teller - was sentenced to 10 years, to serve five. The judge imposed an additional penalty on Allen because she said he did not testify truthfully in the trial of Michael Chastang, a co-defendant convicted of his role in plotting the heist.

Chastang is to be sentenced today.

Johnston was the first of the group to plead guilty, speeding up the prosecution of her co-defendants.

During her sentencing hearing, Johnston took the witness stand and between sobs apologized for hurting and embarrassing her family and friends..."

— Source: ToledoBlade.com article by associated press