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Barbara Jane Mackle (born 1948) is an American heiress who was the survivor of a notorious crime. Her book about the ordeal was the basis of two television movies.
On December 17, 1968, Mackle, then a 20-year-old Emory University student, was staying at the Rodeway Inn in Decatur, Georgia with her mother. Mackle was sick with the Hong Kong flu, which had severely struck the student body population of Emory; 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 told Mackle that Stewart Hunt Woodward had been in a traffic accident. (Woodward 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 of South Berkeley Lake Road in Gwinnett County near Duluth and buried Mackle in a shallow trench inside of 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 and received a $500,000 ransom 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, not only did authorities find documents giving Krist's and Eisemann-Schier's names and former addresses but also a photograph of Barbara Jane Mackle in the box holding a sign that read "Kidnapped."
The second ransom drop was successful. 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 rescued dehydrated but otherwise unharmed. She had spent more than three days underground.
Krist was soon arrested off the coast of Florida in a speedboat bought with part of the ransom money. Eisemann-Schier was arrested 79 days later. (She has the distinction of being the first woman on the FBI's ten most wanted list.) She was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison, paroled after serving four years, and deported to her native Honduras.
Krist was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1969 but was released on parole after 10 years. Krist received a pardon to allow him to attend medical school. He practiced medicine in Indiana before his license was revoked in 2003 for lying about disciplinary action received during his residency.
In March 2006, Krist was arrested on a sailboat off the coast of Alabama with 14 kilograms (31 lb) of cocaine, reportedly worth about $1 million, and four illegal aliens. He was sentenced to five years and five months in prison but released in November, 2010.
On August 27, 2012, in Mobile, Alabama, U.S. District Judge Callie Virginia Granade revoked Krist's supervised release for violation of his probation. He had left the country without permission, sailing to Cuba and South America on his sailboat. Judge Granade sentenced Krist to 40 months imprisonment.
Mackle wrote a book (with The Miami Herald reporter Gene Miller) about her experience: 83 Hours ‘Til Dawn, published in 1971. ABC aired the story in 1972 as part of its ABC Movie of the Week showcase under the title The Longest Night. However due to litigation surrounding the rights to the story, the movie was never aired again, even though the court decision was later overturned. The book was made into a second television movie, 83 Hours 'Til Dawn in 1990. Krist also wrote a book, Life: The Man Who Kidnapped Barbara Jane Mackle, published in 1972 (ISBN 0-7004-0100-8).