The Insane And Forgotten Story Of Barbara Mackle — The Heiress Who Was Kidnapped And Buried Alive For Three Days

Photo: Getty
The Insane And Forgotten Story Of Barbara Mackle — The Heiress Who Was Kidnapped And Buried Alive For Three Days

Where is she now?

Barbara Mackle was buried alive for 83 hours — and survived. So where is she now?

In December of 1968, Gary Steven Krist and his partner, Ruth Eisemann-Schierthe, then 23 and 26, posed as police officers and knocked on Barbara’s door, ABC News reported.

The pair said that her boyfriend had been in a car accident, so her mother, Jane Mackle, let them in.

As soon as the door opened, the two “officers” attacked Jane. They knocked her out with chloroform and left her tied up in the house as they forced Barbara into a car.

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Krist and Eisemann-Schierthe made the then-20-year-old Barbara get into a fiberglass box at the bottom of a hole that they had previously dug in a forest.

The kidnappers had engineered the box to where Barbara could breathe and loaded it with food and water containing sedatives.

They shoved a sign that read “KIDNAPPED” into Barabra’s hands and took a photo.

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Barbara was buried alive in a box two feet under the ground just 20 miles from her Georgia home and held for ransom.

“I screamed and screamed,” Barbara wrote in her book, 83 Hours ‘Til Dawn. “The sound of the dirt got farther and farther away. Finally, I couldn’t hear anything above. I screamed for a long time after that.

Krist and Eisemann-Schierthe demanded $500,000 for Barbara’s safe return, which is equivalent to $3.5 million today. Her father paid the ransom but the kidnappers took the money and ran.

The FBI became involved in the search for the missing college student and she was found alive three and a half days later.

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Barbara later said she knew she would not die in that box and remained positive by imagining spending Christmas with her family.

Eisemann-Schierthe was arrested within 24 hours and deported back to her home country of Honduras. Krist was caught in Florida two months later and served 10 years in prison before being paroled to go to medical school.

Krist's former parole officer, Tommy Morris, said that Krist chose his victim very carefully.

“He was looking for a rich, tough-minded female,” Morris told UPI. “Someone who could stand up to the trauma of being buried alive. Barbara Jane Mackle fit that profile.”

It has been 50 years since Barbara was buried alive.

Barbara is reportedly settled down in South Florida and has never spoken about her kidnapping in public, although former president Richard Nixon persuaded her to write a book about her tragic experience.

Two movies have been made about her nerve-wracking kidnapping, The Longest Night in 1972 and 83 Hours ‘Til Dawn in 1990.

According to The Mackle Company, Barbara’s family is amazed as to how unaffected she seems by the kidnapping.

“The families have gone very separate ways,” the website reads. “But from what I have heard she has had no serious after effects.”

Barbara married her college boyfriend Stewart Hunt Woodward, who died in 2013. She had two children during her 43-year marriage to Woodward, Virginia Romano and Scott Woodward.

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