FALL RIVER — Convicted murderer Robin Marie Murphy, the woman at the center of a Satanic cult controversy that has spanned nearly three decades, will be released from prison later this month after serving 24 years behind bars for the grisly murder of city prostitute Karen Marsden.
Murphy, 41, a former city prostitute and pimp, was granted parole by the State Parole Board recently, signaling an end to 24 years of failed attempts at retrials and appeals.
The woman dubbed one of the two “cult murderers” will be transferred to a halfway house on May 15, prison officials said Monday.
Murphy, along with her codefendant Carl Drew, was convicted of the ritualistic slaying of Marsden in 1980, but was also believed to have taken part in two similar cult killings in and around Fall River in 1979 and 1980.
Two other young prostitutes, Doreen Levesque and Barbara Ann Raposa, were killed in brutal fashion during a six-month stretch culminating with the Marsden slaying.
During the initial investigation into the string of gruesome murders, Murphy told police and prosecutors a macabre tale of Satan, sex, cults and murder that led to the conviction of Drew and another man, Andre Maltais, for two of the three murders.
Since she claimed to be present at all three slayings, Murphy was offered a second-degree murder sentence with the possibility of parole after 15 years served in exchange for her testimony.
While Maltais died in prison, Drew remains behind bars for the first-degree murder of Marsden.
After the shock of the brutal murders subsided for nearly two decades, the infamous pair of convicted murderers have recently garnered the spotlight once again.
Both Murphy and Drew petitioned the courts during the past year for new trials.
While Murphy’s request was quickly denied last spring, Drew’s motion for a new trial has proceeded through the judicial system and an all-important evidentiary hearing will be held some time this summer.
Drew’s motion is based in large part on new sworn statements by prosecution witnesses who say they were coerced by former prosecutors into lying about Drew’s apparent role in the murder and the alleged Satanic cult.
After receiving word that her own bid for a new trial was denied last year, Murphy turned her attention to her parole board hearing held this March.
In a stunning turn of events, Murphy told the board that her dark tale of being present and active in the decapitation and ritualistic slaying of Marsden was all a lie.
She said, after 24 years of telling an entirely different story, there never was a Satanic cult in the city and she was not present at the murders she claimed she participated in so many years ago.
Murphy attempted to convince the parole board that she gave up her freedom to get Drew convicted and “serve justice.”
She now says she believed so strongly that Drew was the butcher of the three girls and many others, that she was willing to make up the story and go to jail herself if it also meant Drew was in jail for life.
“If I was to tell you I was there and that I helped kill her, I would be lying,” Murphy told the board in March.
Her statements to the board also open up a number of questions about Drew’s conviction since Murphy was the prosecution’s star witness at his trial.
In the parole board’s written memo of decision, the seven board members say “although the board does not believe Ms. Murphy’s recent account of the governing offense (murder), the majority of the board believes that she has rehabilitated to the point where she can be returned to the community.”
Five of the seven board members voted in favor of Murphy’s release.