AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 30 (AP) - Atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair's estranged son says he's glad the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his mother, brother and daughter appears to be solved.

``I think we're fortunate to have some sort of a resolution, for the family members, even my mother's supporters, who I feel sorry for,'' William Murray said Monday by telephone from Washington.

Over the weekend, the discovery of human remains in a shallow grave on a south Texas ranch suggest the long investigation into the atheist leader's 1995 disappearance may be near an end.

Investigators believe O'Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray, 40, and granddaughter Robin Murray O'Hair, 30, were killed, dismembered and dumped on the private, 5,000-acre ranch.

William Murray, O'Hair's eldest son who broke with his family and became an evangelical Christian, said he plans to return to Texas to bury the bodies if the remains prove to be his family members.

``They just deserve a decent burial,'' he said. ``It's not the time to get into some kind of controversy with people who would like to martyr her.''

O'Hair enjoyed calling herself the most hated woman in America. She was involved in successful court battles in the 1960s to ban prayer and Bible-reading in the nation's public schools.

In 1995, O'Hair, who was then 76, disappeared with her son Jon and Robin, William's daughter adopted by O'Hair. Also missing were $500,000 in gold coins.

David Waters, the chief suspect in the family's disappearance, pleaded guilty to a single extortion charge in exchange for leading federal investigators to their remains.

Waters, 53, already is serving 60 years for stealing $54,000 from O'Hair's atheist organization while he was her office manager. Waters' attorney, Bill Gates, declined to comment.

Waters admitted he did ``threaten and commit physical violence'' against the three missing people before leading investigators to the dismembered bodies, according to court documents unsealed Monday.

Although authorities have not confirmed the identities of the bodies found over the weekend, they have said they believe the remains are those of the O'Hairs. It could take about two weeks to confirm the identities.

As an adult, William Murray renounced his mother's atheism and is now a Christian evangelist. He is the chairman of the conservative Religious Freedom Coalition in Washington, D.C.

``She never really had the joy of living,'' Murray said about his mother. ``She spent her entire life battling.''

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