Forty two years after she confessed to the murder of her former lover, Robin Murphy is asking to be released from prison—again.
Murphy was convicted in 1980 of the murder of Karen Marsden, one of three murders attributed to an alleged “Satanic cult” operating in Fall River, Massachusetts between 1979 and 1980. Murphy, who was 17 at the time, pleaded guilty and gave evidence against alleged cult leader Carl Drew in exchange for a lighter charge of second-degree murder. She has since recanted her confession and maintained her innocence ever since.
In a parole hearing Tuesday, Murphy claimed she was sexually abused by fellow cult member Andy Maltais and was convinced that Drew had murdered Marsden. She said she copped to the murder in hopes of putting the two men behind bars.
“I really wanted to make sure Carl went to jail. I really believed he killed my girlfriend,” she said, according to The Herald News. “She told me he was gonna kill her, and I believed her.”
In retrospect, she added, she should have let the trial play out. “If Carl Drew is guilty, that’s his own battle to fight,” she said.
Marsden was the last of three women to be murdered in the group’s alleged crime spree, after Doreen Ann Levesque, a 17-year-old foster care runaway, and Barbara Raposa, a 19-year-old single mother and sex worker. Police found Levesque’s body under the bleachers of a local high school the morning of October 13, 1979. Raposa was reported missing less than a month later, but her body was not found until January of the next year.
On the night of her disappearance in February 1980, Marsden was questioned by police about Levesque’s murder and the Stanic rituals she claimed to have witnessed. Marsden allegedly refused to cooperate with police and asked to be dropped off outside a church, claiming her pimp would kill her if she spoke out. Her grandmother reported her missing the next day. Her partial remains were found in nearby Westport, Mass., on April 13, 1980.
At trial, Murphy claimed Drew had forced her to participate in sacrificing Marsden—with whom she claimed to have had a sexual relationship—to the devil. Drew was ultimately convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He remains there today. Maltias received the same sentence for Raposa’s murder and died in prison.
Murphy, meanwhile, was released on parole in 2004, but returned to prison seven years later for allegedly associating with a known felon. At her hearing on Tuesday, Murphy claimed she had made progress on the childhood trauma that caused her to seek out such relationships, and said she now makes “decisions about who I interact with today and I plan to carry that out for the rest of my days,” according to the Herald.
Murphy’s attorney, Courtney Kenyon, spoke to Murphy’s charitable activities in prison, like training service dogs for veterans, and parole board chair Charlene Bonner noted that she had earned a bachelor’s degree while in prison. Psychologist Frank DiCataldo pointed out that she had not committed any violent crimes while out on parole.
Three people spoke against Murphy’s release, including the former detective on the case and state Rep. Alan Silvia. Silvia previously described Murphy as the “mastermind” in all three killings and claimed she “manipulated everyone.” One of Raposa’s friends, Patricia DeSouto, repeated that claim Tuesday, calling her a “narcissistic, psychopathic, sociopathic liar.”
Marsden’s brother, Dmitri Marsden, spoke at Murphy’s last hearing in 2017, where she was denied parole.
“It’s clear that she’s a pathologic liar and that’s an addiction and that addiction hasn’t gone away,” he said, according to local news station WPRI. “I feel that she should definitely not be released.”