Hiker Who Died Was a Prominent Springs Businessman
Edward Murphy Had Sued Catholic Church for Molestation

By Bill Vogrin
Colorado Springs Gazette
May 25, 2008

A hiker who fell to his death at St. Mary's Falls was a prominent Colorado Springs businessman who had sued the Catholic Church, accusing a priest of sexually abusing him as a child.

The victim was Edward Anthony Murphy, 59, according to El Paso County sheriff's Lt. Lari Sevene.

Murphy died at the scene Saturday after he fell more than 25 feet while descending from the summit of Stove Mountain, on the side of Mount Rosa, on a morning hike.

"He left his home a little after 4 a.m.," his brother John Murphy said Sunday evening. "He put on his headlamp and backpack and off he went all alone.

"He called me at a quarter to 8 from the summit. It was windy, and he was pretty tired. He was a bit disoriented. His voice sounded different."

John Murphy said his brother often hiked alone, trying to find solitude in the mountains.

"He fought the demons of molestation for decades," John Murphy said. "The mountains were his church. They gave him an escape."

Based on descriptions given to him from search and rescue officials, Murphy said his brother avoided the treacherous cliffs and fangs of granite that guard the 9,600-foot summit of Stove Mountain.

But he believes his brother was exhausted as he came down Buffalo Canyon about 600 feet below the summit, and tried to save time by climbing down the falls.

"I think he gave in to the temptation to take a shortcut," he said. "He almost made it. He got within about 25 feet. Rescuers found a slide mark above the cliff where he dropped onto the rock."

Edward Murphy owned Murphy Auto Sales on South Tejon Street and was a wholesale supplier of used cars to area dealerships.

He previously had a landscaping business among other businesses, John Murphy said.

A lifelong Colorado Springs resident, Edward was the youngest of five children of Martin and Gertrude Murphy.

One of Edward's brothers, Martin J. Murphy Jr., is a cancer researcher in North Carolina. Another brother, Charles, is an area builder. John is a retired attorney. A sister, Sheila Murphy, is a retired judge in Chicago.

Besides his prominent family, Edward was becoming known for helping expose sexual abuse by priests. In fact, he and his brothers Martin and John revealed they had been victims of a priest.

The brothers sued the Catholic Diocese of Denver in August 2006, alleging molestation by the Rev. Leonard Abercrombie in the 1950s. Abercrombie, a longtime friend of Martin and Gertrude Murphy, died in 1994.

Before his death, Sheila Murphy confronted the priest on the phone and she said he made a partial confession before his death.

John Murphy said the abuse scarred Edward, led to his drinking and contributed to his having four marriages.

He received treatment for his drinking in 1994 and had been sober ever since, John Murphy said. And he became president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The three brothers settled the lawsuit six months ago for an undisclosed amount. John said he and Edward had an appointment next week to go to Denver to look at Abercrombie's file.

Murphy said the brothers wanted to know his history and how many more victims he had.

Besides his three brothers and sister, Edward Murphy is survived by his wife, Roe, his daughter and a grandson. Services are pending.


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