Jon Garth Murray

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Jon Garth Murray
Born(1954-11-16)November 16, 1954
DiedSeptember 29, 1995(1995-09-29) (aged 40)
Cause of deathMurder by David Roland Waters
Known forSon of Madalyn Murray O'Hair
American Atheists
Parent(s)Michael Fiorillo
Madalyn Murray O'Hair (deceased)
RelativesWilliam J. Murray (half-brother)
Robin Murray O'Hair (niece; deceased)

Jon Garth Murray (November 16, 1954 – September 29, 1995) served as president of American Atheists, a non-governmental organization that lobbied on the separation of church and state. He was the second son of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, an activist who founded American Atheists in 1963 and served as its first president. He was the half-brother of William J. Murray.

Career and activism[edit]

From 1986 until his death in 1995, Murray held the de jure office of President of American Atheists. It was a title without power, however, as his mother retained authoritative control behind-the-scenes.

Personal life and death[edit]

Jon Garth Murray, called "Garth", was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1954, the son of Madalyn Murray O'Hair and Michael Fiorillo, her boyfriend at the time. It is likely that Garth never met his father. In 1960 his mother filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore public school system, naming his older half-brother William J. Murray as plaintiff. Consolidated with another case, it reached the United States Supreme Court on appeal, which ruled that mandatory public Bible readings in public schools was unconstitutional.

That year his mother founded American Atheists and served for decades as the first president. Murray also worked for the organization as an adult.

He is thought to have had only one, short-lived relationship with a woman. He was a tall, heavyset man and had a speech impairment. He was living with his mother Madalyn in 1995, together with his niece Robin Murray O'Hair in Austin, Texas. (His mother had adopted her granddaughter Robin, making her Garth's adopted sister).[1]

In 1995, Murray, his mother, and his niece Robin were all kidnapped and killed in San Antonio by David Roland Waters, a former employee. Waters worked in association with two other men.[1]


  1. ^ a b John MacCormack (10 July 2003). "True Confession". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
Preceded by
Madalyn Murray O'Hair
President of American Atheists
(de jure)
Succeeded by
Ellen Johnson