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One of my Favorite People of all time……..Jack Roland, Murderer and Thief


Jack Roland Murphy – AKA Murph-the-Surf
One Hell-of-a-Guy

title: MURPH THE SURF year: 1975 cast: Robert Conrad, Don Stroud rating: ***1/2

Back in the middle 1970’s I attended a movie preview at Shepard Mall (OKC) of the film “Murph-the-Surf” staring the fine actor Robert Conrad (from the TV series “The Wild Wild West.”)  Mr. Conrad made an appearance at the movie and I still remember how short the man was.  The movie was about the most famous jewel theft in the world at that time, Jack Roland Murphy,  the mastermind of the heist of the Star of India, the Eagle Diamond, and the de Long Ruby. The robbery took place on Oct. 29, 1964 at the J.P. Morgan jewel collection from the display cases of New York’s American Museum of Natural History.  Jack Roland Murphy (Don Stroud played him in the movie), along with his accomplices, Alan Kuhn (Robert Conrad played him in the movie) and Roger Clark.




This robbery was called the “Jewel Heist of the Century.”  “The museum’s security was lax to non-existent. The burglar alarm system was non-operational, and a second story window in the jewel room was usually left open to aid in ventilation. The thieves climbed in through the window and discovered that the display case alarms were non-functional as well. The stolen jewels were valued at more than $400,000.” (Wikipedia).  The robbers found out that they couldn’t pass the The Star of India a 563.35 carat (112.67 g) star sapphire, one of the largest such gems in the world.  It was, as in the movie, priceless, but also worthless.  Jack Roland Murphy and his helpers were caught and sentenced to three years in jail.  The movie “Murf-the-Surf” was made and told the story of the man and his heist. Yet, that was just he beginning of Jack Roland Murphy’s story.  A first-degree murder conviction in 1968 put the man in jail for life.

“When Bill Glass, Roger Staubach and McCoy McLemore visited Florida State prison in 1974, as part of a Bill Glass Champions for Life weekend, Murphy was impressed with the visitors, both world champion athletes and local businessmen. At that time Murphy had an earliest parole date of Nov. 2025, but that weekend changed his attitude and he devoted his future time spent in prison to serving a higher cause. His service in the chaplaincy program, leading Bible studies and mentoring other men in prison led the Florida Parole Board to release him on “parole with lifetime monitoring” in 1986.

In 1986, Murphy began going back into prisons and jails all over the U.S. as a platform guest with Bill Glass. In 1990, he was hired on staff with Bill Glass Champions for Life. Murphy has also been a featured speaker for Kairos, Coalition of Prison Evangelists, Int’l Prison Ministries, Time for Freedom and Good News Jail & Prison Ministry. After visiting over 1,200 prisons, and recognizing the incredible change apparent in this man’s life, the FL Parole Board terminated his “lifetime parole” in 2000.

Murphy is now international director for Champions for Life, visiting prisons, jails, and youth detention facilities all over the world. Murphy authored a book of his experience and testimony “Jewels for the Journey”.  (Wikipedia)

One day I hope to meet the Jack Roland Murphy.  

Some people do change from bad to good.