Texas woman kept Mexican slaves for 14 years

By Cleve Wootson

Olga Murra. Photo / Tarrant County Sheriff's Office
Olga Murra. Photo / Tarrant County Sheriff's Office

Olga Murra warned one of the women she kept as a slave that if the woman disobeyed, immigration officials would come to Texas, kill her and bury her in a field "with other illegal aliens".

And the punishment wouldn't stop there.

For 14 years, Murra convinced two women that she was "the voice of God" - even making them listen to recordings of her reading Bible verses as they cleaned houses, sometimes seven days a week, court documents said.

If they didn't do as she said, Murra convinced the women, they would spend eternity in hell.

A jury convicted Murra, 64, of two counts of forced labour and two counts of "harbouring an illegal alien," according to a news release from the US Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The crimes were committed in Fort Worth and El Paso.

When she is sentenced in November, Murra faces 20 years in federal prison for each labour charge and 10 years apiece for the harbouring convictions, according to ICE.

Murra made the women sleep on the floor and ask permission to use the bathroom, court documents say.

They could only talk to Murra - not anyone else in the homes where they lived. She only fed them bread and water.

One woman told the FBI that Murra would hit her.

Another said she was allowed to sleep on the floor of a bedroom - but if either woman misbehaved, they were forced to sleep in the garage or the backyard.

Almost every day, they worked. The women cleaned "on average, three or four homes a day," according to court documents. They also cleaned Murra's house and prepared her meals.

All the while, the women were turning their money over to Murra from cleaning houses.

Murra also made them get jobs at McDonald's and Walmart using forged documents, according to court papers.

Murra was born in the United States, but lived in Mexico from shortly after her birth until September 1997, when she moved to Texas - first El Paso, then Fort Worth. She operated cleaning businesses in both cities, ICE said.

When Murra returned to the United States, she brought a 33-year-old Mexican woman with her.

A year later, she arranged for another woman, who was 21, to come to the United States, according to ICE.

The women would be her slaves for the next 14 years and endured a steady stream of abuse and indoctrination.

According to the indictment:

"[Murra] represented herself to (the victim) as the voice of God on earth, and caused (the victim) to believe (the victim) would go to hell if she did not obey the defendant.

"Approximately once or twice a week, the defendant required I.G. to attend religious instruction in the residence, during which the defendant preached for two to three hours. Additionally, the defendant required (the victim) to listen to religious recordings when she cleaned homes, which consisted of the defendant reading Bible verses and discussing their meaning. ...

"Murra threatened at least one of the women that if she disobeyed her, she would contact immigration and the woman would be buried in a field with other illegal aliens."

Homeland Security agents investigated Murra's case, but it's unclear how the slaves came to the attention of authorities.


1 The United Nations Polaris Project, which tracks human trafficking, estimates there are 20.9 million people across the globe who are slaves, trapped in jobs they cannot leave.
2 That's about three of every 1000 people in the workforce.
3 Women make up 55 per cent of the trafficked, according to the project:

- Washington Post

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