Buried Alive – The Incredible Journey

(light music) (ominous music) – Shortly after 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday the 17th of December, 1968 two gunmen burst through the doorway into room 137 at the Rodeway Inn in Atlanta, Georgia What followed was one of the most bizarre and sensational crimes in American history Inside the hotel room Barbara Jane Mackle the 20 year old heiress and daughter of a wealthy Florida businessman was recovering from illness Her mother was there caring for her and overseeing her recovery The kidnappers bound the mother and abducted the daughter – Barbara! (ominous music) Then they drove their victim to an isolated pine forest on the outskirts of town They forced Barbara into a coffin like box and buried her deep underground Her only contact with outside world was a narrow air tube that reached to the surface Nobody knew where she was except the kidnappers And they threatened that they’d never reveal her whereabouts unless her father met their demands and paid them a ransom of half a million dollars Her fate was sealed If the money wasn’t provided that box would become Barbara Mackle’s tomb and she would die all alone Her body would never be found There was nothing she could do – [Barbara] Can anyone hear me? – Her only hope of rescue depended on the ransom being paid Make sure you hear the inspiring story of a father’s love and his desperate attempt to rescue his kidnapped daughter And you’ll be surprised to discover that there’s more to this ransom story than expected And it may even have implications for you and me (ominous music) (light music) Emory University is located on a beautiful campus in the vibrant city of Atlanta The capital of the state of Georgia in the United States It was founded in 1836 and is one of the oldest private universities in the United States Today it ranks among the world’s leading research universities and is one of the top institutions in America Emory’s 133000 alumni include a US vice president, a Supreme Court Justice, US senators and representatives Governors, university presidents, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and even an astronaut The university attracts students from over 100 foreign countries and from all 50 states of America In 1968 one of those students was 20 year old, Barbara Jane Mackle A wealthy young heiress from Florida Her father, Robert Mackle, was a multimillionaire who owned the 65 million dollar Deltona Corporation One of the biggest real estate home building companies in America In December an influenza epidemic spread through the Emory campus and hit the student body hard Soon the university infirmary was full of sick students When Barbara came down with the flu there wasn’t any room left in the infirmary So her mother Jane drove all the way from Coral Gables, a posh suburb in Miami, to take care of Barbara The two of them moved into room 137 at the nearby Rodeway Inn so that Barbara could recover and prepare for her final exams Christmas was just eight days away and they were looking forward to driving back home to Florida for a family holiday Barbara and her mother went to bed early that night to ensure that Barbara got plenty of rest They wanted to get rid of her fever and give her the very best chance of getting well again

Shortly after four o’clock the next morning, Tuesday the 17th of December, they were awakened by a loud knock on their door A man who identified himself as a policeman said that there had been a terrible accident And that Barbara’s fiance, Stewart Hunt Woodward, had been seriously injured He claimed that he needed to talk to Barbara immediately Mrs. Mackle went to open the door Barbara said, no don’t But it was too late Outside the door was a stranger, Gary Krist holding a shotgun And his accomplice dressed as a man but actually Krist’s girlfriend, Ruth Eisemann-Schier, she was armed with a pistol They burst into the room and held their weapons to the heads of Barbara and her mother Do as we say, and no one will get hurt The two women were defenceless and terrified The gunman quickly chloroformed, bound, and gagged Janet Mackle and left her lying on motel room floor They then forced Barbara at gunpoint from the hotel room into the back of their waiting car Informing her that she was being kidnapped (ominous music) They drove about 30 kilometres to a remote pine forest in a wild and uninhabited place near Lake Berkeley in the Duluth area on the outskirts of town Barbara was forced from the car and dragged to a pre-dug hole in the ground The horror of her situation became clear when the light of the torch revealed a coffin like box at the bottom of hole They were going to bury her alive Barbara plead for her life She told her kidnappers that she would do anything if they would just spare her life and leave her out of the box She repeated over and over, I’ll be good, I’ll be good But her pleas were in vain Barbara was told that she would only live if she cooperated She was pushed into the hole and forced to lie in the box Krist took an opal ring from Barbara’s finger and ordered her to hold a crude sign that read, kidnapped while he photographed her with a Polaroid camera But he didn’t like the picture because she was grim faced He ordered her to smile, so that her parents would know she was alive Then he photographed her again (dramatic music) Barbara was informed that there were supplies in the box that would keep her alive for several days as well as a narrow plastic air tube that reached to the surface to provide outside air Then came the dreaded moment The top of the box was closed and screwed down Next she could hear the sounds of frozen dirt being shovelled on top of her The first shovel fulls of soil were very loud Then they became muffled, and then silence Within a few minutes she lay buried alive under half a metre of earth She was hysterical She yelled out, she pushed with all her might against the roof of the box She banged on the sides of the box hoping someone would hear her, but there was just silence She was all alone The kidnappers contacted Robert Mackle with a ransom message They demanded a half a million dollars in ransom and gave detailed instructions on how the money was to be prepared and delivered It was to consist of used $20 bills not in serial order and bound in $1000 packets The full ransom payment was to be put in a single suitcase They threatened that they’d never reveal Barbara’s whereabouts unless all their demands were met If Robert Mackle agreed to the kidnappers terms he was instructed to place a classified ad in the Miami Herald newspaper under the personal section He knew there was only one way he would ever see his daughter alive again She was under a death sentence unless he paid the ransom The moment of decision had arrived Robert Mackle had to make the critical decision Was he willing to pay the ransom? Well there was never any doubt in Robert Mackle’s mind His daughter’s life was all that mattered He immediately withdrew the money and followed the kidnappers instructions He placed the ad in the newspaper, loved one please come home We will pay all expenses and meet you anywhere at anytime, your family

That night the ransom payment was prepared The money was carefully counted and placed in a suitcase On Wednesday the postman delivered a letter containing Barbara’s opal ring and the Polaroid photo of her holding the kidnapped sign And then at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday exactly two days after the kidnapping, Robert Mackle received another phone call giving instructions for the ransom drop off Robert Mackle left immediately and placed the suitcase full of money on a sandy strip near a bridge just south of Miami along the bay as instructed But the entire ransom process was disrupted when two police officers who were totally unaware of the kidnapping drove by and spotted two suspicious individuals carrying the large, heavy suitcase When they went to investigate the kidnappers dropped the suitcase and fled safely on foot into the nearby woods However, the FBI found their abandoned car Inside the vehicle not only did the authorities find the documents giving the kidnappers identities and former addresses but they also found the other photograph of Barbara Mackle in the box holding the kidnapped sign Robert Mackle was devastated when told of the accidentally bungled ransom drop off He feared that the kidnappers would now abandon the ransom deal and leave Barbara to die Nothing else mattered He just wanted to get his daughter back and he was willing to sacrifice everything to make that happen Robert Mackle placed a second ad in the newspaper for the kidnappers That lead to another phone call and a new ransom drop off location The second ransom drop off was successful Now the Mackle family waited tensely for a response from the kidnappers with information about their daughter, but no call came They feared the worst (ominous music) Nearly 15 hours after the ransom pick up, on the 20th of December Krist called the FBI office in Atlanta and left vague directions to Barbara’s burial site near Duluth More than 100 agents rushed to the site They spread out and began searching in a desperate effort to find her before she suffocated But they couldn’t find any sign of the living grave The agents were about to give up the search when one man noticed a patch of freshly turned earth He fell to the ground for a closer inspection and spotted the ventilation tubes Frantically the men began digging the ground with their bare hands and sticks wondering whether Barbara would be dead or alive 12 minutes later, their hands bleeding, the agents reached the coffin lid They pried it off with a tyre lever and there was Barbara, alive The agents wept as they lifted her out of the box After having spent nearly four days in dark, cold confinement she was in remarkably good spirits She was finally freed thanks to her father’s love and his willingness to pay her ransom Barbara was flown in her father’s jet back to Miami to be reunited with her family And what a reunion it was Robert Mackle had shown just how much Barbara meant to him and the family He was willing to sacrifice everything in order to save her and bring her home Do we need to wonder whether Barbara ever doubted her father’s love after that? She’d experienced her father’s love firsthand in a very special way She knew that he and the family valued her above everything Now consider this, did the half a million dollar ransom cause her father to love her or did it reveal how much he already loved her? Of course, the money merely reflected the intense love in the hear to Robert Mackle for his daughter Barbara (ominous music) That special love, that intense love, is something humans desire We all need it We were made to love and be loved If you were kidnapped would anybody pay up to 20 million dollars for you?

Does anybody love you that much? Yes, someone does You are loved that much and even more Let me explain One of the great themes of the Bible is the ransom theme In fact, you cannot fully understand the golden thread that runs all through the Bible without understanding the ransom theme Notice what the Bible says in first Peter chapter one, verses 18 and 19 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors And it was not paid with mere gold and silver which lose their value It was the precious blood of Christ The sinless, spotless Lamb of God There you have it You were ransomed not with $20 million but with the precious blood of Christ Now please notice what this means Ultimately something’s value is measured by how much another person will pay for it or give up for it And if that’s the measurement, your value is out of this world God gave his only son for you He didn’t just give the best he had, God gave everything he had And he did it just for you If you were the only person on this planet who was lost and needed to be ransomed Jesus still would have come just for you Can you imagine anyone paying a higher price for anything? Once you internalise the fact that God sent his son to pay your ransom you should never again struggle with self esteem or feel worthless God has eternally clarified your value You are worth everything You are worth dying for You are worth going through all the pain of the cross You matter, Jesus said he’d rather die than live without you and so he paid your ransom and mine But why was it necessary? Why do we need to be ransomed in the first place? Well to find the answer we’ve gotta go all the way back to the very beginning of human existence In the very first book of the Bible the story begins with a perfect world There was no sin or disease Because God is love he wanted to populate this perfect world with people who had the ability to respond to his love He didn’t want puppets or robots who are manipulated or programmed to behave in a certain way He wanted people who had the power of choice And so God created people with the capacity, the freedom to respond spontaneously to his love But when you give people the power to choose you take a great risk, because they may make wrong choices They may choose to love or not to love They may choose to be loyal or not to be loyal But because God is love he was willing to take that risk and give people the power of choice Sadly as time went by our first parents, Adam and Eve, listened to the voice of God’s arch enemy Lucifer and chose to follow him They chose to rebel, to reject God and give their loyalty to Satan Just as Barbara Mackle’s mother made a voluntary choice to let the kidnappers in, so our first parents made a voluntary choice to listen to the voice of the kidnapper, Satan, and let him into their lives And so in a sense our first parents were kidnapped by Satan and held captive in sin When Adam and Eve turned their back on God and invited Satan into their world they were separated from God and life Sin, rebellion, separates us from God Notice what the Bible says in Isaiah chapter 59, verses one and two But your iniquities have separated you from your God and you sins have hidden his face from you People were made for fellowship with God to be in harmony with their creator But when they sinned they turned away from God They rejected him and rebelled against him But there’s more There are consequences associated with sin, with rebelling against God Notice what the Bible says in Romans chapter six and verse 23 The wages of sin is death The two people that God had created perfect and upright

were now separated from God That resulted in destruction and death They had no ability to fix this situation so the human race was doomed The tragic end of their choice to rebel was destruction and death Like Barbara Mackle in that dirt covered box, unable to deliver herself, the human race was doomed unless help came from above In a sense, we’re all in a box without hope unless a ransom is paid And this is where God intervened He couldn’t stand being separated from us, the people he loves He was both willing and able to provide that help from above He had a plan He would come and pay the ransom himself to set us free He would pay the penalty for our sins and mistakes The ransom wasn’t in dollars or silver or gold, it was paid in blood, Jesus’ blood He died in our place He died so that we could live He paid our ransom in full Listen to what the Bible says in Matthew chapter 20 and verse 28 The son of man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his live as a ransom for many Our ransom has been paid We don’t have to held captive any longer Captive to sin, captive to guilt, captive to fear, captive to despair We’ve been set free Please notice the words of the most popular text in all the Bible For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life Yes, Jesus has paid the ransom to set us free To give us life And here’s the good news, no matter how deep or dark your situation may be Jesus will find you and set you free No sin is too bad No hole is too deep No case is too hopeless He’s here to give us hope To forgive our sins, to give us peace and happiness All you have to do is ask and he will set you free Why not ask him to do that right now as we pray Our dear heavenly father, thank you for Jesus our saviour and our deliverer We are so grateful that he has paid our ransom in full and paid the penalty for our sins and mistakes We are so glad that we are no longer separated from you We are so grateful that you are a loving God Thank you for freeing us from sin, guilt, and despair Thank you for the peace and happiness you give us We commit our lives to you and pray for your blessing and guidance And we ask this in Jesus name, amen (light music) The story of Barbara Mackle’s abduction and her father’s desperate attempt to rescue her has fascinated and inspired people all over the world Being buried alive deep underground was a terrifying experience Her situation was hopeless Her father knew there was only one way he would ever see his daughter alive again She was under a death sentence unless he paid the ransom Robert Mackle’s love for his daughter was so great that he was willing to sacrifice everything in order to save her and bring her home He paid the ransom in full to set her free Sometimes we can feel buried alive under the burdens and challenges of life Jesus has paid the ransom to set us free and to give us life And so if you’re struggling with the challenges of life and are looking for inner peace and true happiness if you’d like to get closer to God than I’d like to recommend the free gift we have for all our viewers today It’s the book, The Greatest Rescue Ever This book is our gift to you and is absolutely free There are no costs or obligations whatsoever Thousands have been blessed and inspired by this book, The Greatest Rescue Ever so make the most of this wonderful opportunity

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