Robin Murphy confessed to role in Fall River's cult murders. Here's why she got parole.

The Herald News, Massachusetts/May 14, 2024

By Jo C. Goode

Fall River — The Massachusetts Parole Board has granted so-called “satanic cult” murderer Robin Murphy release from prison just nine weeks after the 61-year-old Fall River woman made her case to be free once again related to the triple murders that occurred in 1979 and 1980.

State Rep. Alan Silvia, who was one of the lead Fall River police detectives in the case against Murphy and two other co-defendants back then, said he was contacted late Tuesday morning by the parole board and notified of their decision.

Silvia, who has attended several parole hearings for Murphy including the most recent on March 5 where he spoke against releasing Murphy, indicated that he was shocked by the parole board’s decision.
“They said the parole board made the decision to release her and they will contact me again with the details of her release. I’m happy about that, telling me where she’s going,” said Silvia. “I just hope she’s not coming to Fall River.”

The decision to parole Murphy was released on Monday by the Massachusetts Parole Board. The decision indicates Murphy, who was just 17 at the time of the killings, will be out of prison within two weeks to a long-term residential program, “but not before District Attorney clearance.”

State Rep. Alan Silvia, a former Fall River police detective, speaks at Robin Murphy's parole hearing in Natick on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.
During her March parole hearing, a representative from the Bristol County District Attorney’s office spoke out against releasing Murphy as they have in past parole hearings. A request for comment from the DA’s office was not immediately returned.

The board indicated they based their decision on several factors; addressing her trauma history, victim empathy and addiction issues, and earning her bachelor's degree from Boston University.

They also noted her work inside the prison in a training program matching dogs and military veterans.

“She acknowledged that, due to her pattern of dishonesty, many people have been harmed. She is willing to try and rectify the harm she has caused,” wrote the parole board. “Ms. Murphy has significant support in the community and presented a re-entry plan that will meet her needs.”

“The board concludes by unanimous decision that Ms. Murphy has demonstrated a level of rehabilitation that would make her release compatible with the welfare of society.”

Murphy’s appearance in March before the parole board was her eighth appearance since being eligible for parole over the years.

Murphy was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after she confessed to the killing of her girlfriend, Karen Marsden, 20, a single parent to a little boy. At the time when Charles Manson and his followers were making headlines for their own gruesome alleged cult murders, Fall River police were investigating the local murders of Marsden, 17-year-old New Bedford runaway Doreen Levesque and 19-year-old single mother Barbara Raposa. All three women were sex workers at the time of their murders.  

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Murphy spent more than 20 years in prison before being released on parole in 2004 to a long-term treatment facility. She was sent back to prison in 2011 after being accused of violating her parole when she allegedly started a relationship with a convicted felon; Murphy was reportedly with a woman, who she’d met while incarcerated, during a drug deal.

After she was reincarcerated, Murphy was denied bail several times, most recently in 2022.

Murphy’s story changed numerous times over the years

The parole board in the past has expressed concern about Murphy’s changing stories over the years.

And in March, Murphy changed her story again, this time stunningly telling the parole board that she believed that Fal River pimp Carl Drew, the man she implicated in the murder of Marsden in 1980, was not to blame based on new information which she did not share publicly with the parole board.  

Drew is currently serving a life sentence for first-degree murder without the possibility of parole. Drew has been incarcerated since 1981 and has exhausted all his appeals.

In their decision, the parole board did not address Murphy’s change of heart regarding Drew’s alleged innocence. 

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