Saturday, November 16, 2002

Doctor found to have been imprisoned for kidnapping

The Associated Press

CHRISNEY, Ind. - The newest physician in this southwestern Indiana town is a convicted felon who received a life sentence for kidnapping a college student in Georgia and burying her alive.

Dr. Gary Steven Krist served 10 years of his life term before he was paroled. He later received a medical degree in the Caribbean.

Dr. Krist settled in Chrisney - a rural town considered medically underserved - after the state of Indiana granted him a probationary medical license nearly a year ago. Several other states had rejected his application to practice medicine.

"It takes extraordinary effort and commitment to accomplish what I have accomplished," Dr. Krist told the Evansville Courier & Press. "People who doubt that should try changing their life the way I have."

In 1968, Dr. Krist and a female accomplice kidnapped Barbara Jane Mackle - the daughter of a wealthy Florida businessman - and buried her in a plywood capsule in rural Georgia that Dr. Krist constructed.

Dr. Krist directed rescuers to her location four days later, after her father paid a $500,000 ransom. She survived spending 83 hours underground.

Ms. Mackle and Dr. Krist both wrote books about the kidnapping. Ms. Mackle's book, 83 Hours Until Dawn was made into a movie. Dr. Krist's book, Life was named for the sentence he received.

"I think a man should be judged as much by the last half of his life as by the first half," Dr. Krist said.

He said in general he's been supported by his patients, but some have refused to return to his practice after learning about his past.

"The community here doesn't seem to be reacting badly," he said. "I've had more patients today than I've ever had. People have come in and said 'Hang in there. It'll be all right."'

The state medical licensing board bases its decisions on granting medical licenses on whether a doctor can deliver safe and effective care for his patients, Lisa Hayes, the executive director, told WRTV-Indianapolis.

"The fact that they gave him a probationary license, I think, is an indication that maybe there were some reservations," Ms. Hayes said.

Dr. Krist is on indefinite probation, and was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He also must submit monthly reports on his practice and appear before the board every six months.

The state's controlled substance advisory board also forbids Dr. Krist from writing prescriptions for narcotic drugs.

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