The Ruth Brown Snyder – Judd Gray Homicide Trial – Double Indemnity


One crime author known as it, “an affordable crime involving low-cost folks.” Well-known writer and playwright Damon Runyon mentioned the crime was so “idiotic,” he coined it, “The Dumbbell Murders,” as a result of the murderers had been so dumb.

Blonde, broad-shouldered, and buxom, Ruth Brown Snyder was concerned in a wedding she might not take. She instructed folks her husband Albert Snyder, 13 her senior, had taken benefit of her youth and tricked her 10 years earlier, when she was solely 19 years previous, into a wedding “she actually did not need.” Snyder mentioned Albert, an artwork editor with Motor Boating Journal, was a imply man, who was capable of persuade her to marry him as a result of she was younger, harmless, and naïve. Snyder instructed folks that on the day they had been married, she was too weak and faint even to consummate the wedding with Albert.

Ruth Snyder mentioned, “He needed to wait until I used to be higher earlier than he obtained his approach. However to him I used to be by no means any higher than the ex-switchboard operator who labored in a typing pool.”

But, after Albert’s dying, his editor and writer, C. F. Chapman mentioned about Albert, “He was a person’s man… a quiet, trustworthy, upright man, able to play his half within the drama of life with out searching for the highlight, or making an attempt to fill the main function. All of the world is made up of excellent, strong, silent males like him.”

Judd Gray was a nondescript, bespectacled corset salesman, who was additionally concerned in a loveless marriage. In accordance with Gray’s coworkers, Gray’s spouse Isabel was an enigma. She was seldom seen or heard by anybody, and had taken on the facet of an “invisible lady.” Few of Gray’s coworkers at Bien Joilie Corset Firm had ever met his spouse, or had even spoken to her. In reality, a few of his coworkers didn’t know that the 32-year-old Gray was even married.

As he awaited the electrical chair, Gray described his spouse, in his autobiography, as such: “Isabel, I suppose, one would name a house woman. She had by no means skilled for a profession of any type. She was studying to prepare dinner, and was a cautious and exceptionally precise housekeeper. As I believe it over searchingly, I’m not certain, and we had been married these a few years, of her ambitions, hopes, or her beliefs. We made our residence, drove our automobile, performed bridge with our buddies, danced, raised our baby – ostensibly collectively – married. By no means might I appear to achieve together with her the comradeship that fashioned the bond between my mom and myself.”

It began out as a blind date organized by one other couple. Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray first met in a tiny restaurant in midtown Manhattan known as “Henry’s Swedish Restaurant.” After 4 hours of complaining to one another in regards to the miseries of their respective marriages, they vowed to fulfill once more quickly.

On August 4, 1925, Albert Snyder and his seven-year-old daughter Lorraine had been on a boating journey to Shelter Island. Gray took this chance to knock on the door of the Snyder residence in Queens Village. Judd implored Ruth Snyder to have dinner with him at “their place”: “Henry’s Swedish Restaurant.” After they dined and imbibed quite a lot of alcoholic drinks, Gray invited Snyder to his workplace on 34th Avenue and Fifth Avenue. His excuse was, “I’ve to gather a case of pattern corsets.”

Inside Gray’s workplace, Snyder complained to Gray that she had a foul sunburn. “I’ve obtained some camphor oil in my desk,” Gray mentioned. “Let me get it for you.”

Gray retrieved the camphor oil, and he started rubbing the oil seductively on Snyder’s reddened neck and shoulders, which aroused each folks sexually. After the rubdown, Gray supplied to offer Snyder one in all his new corsets, which he would graciously match for her. After all, this necessitated Ruth eradicating her shirt, which uncovered her corpulent breasts. One factor led to a different, and within the Bein Jolie Corset Firm, Gray and Snyder first consummated their relationship. Snyder was so overcome with Gray’s affections, she mentioned to him, “Okay, to any extent further you’ll be able to name me Momsie.”

For the subsequent 18 months, whereas Albert Snyder was at work, Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray met for quite a few trysts in Midtown lodges, or typically even on the Snyder residence. Throughout these indiscretions, Ruth Snyder’s daughter Lorraine was both downstairs sitting on the Snyder lounge sofa, or sitting within the foyer of a sleazy Manhattan resort. The slobbering love affair was such that Gray steadily knelt at Snyder’s toes, massaging her toes and ankles, and declaring, “You might be my Queen, my Momsie, my Mommie.” She would look down lovingly at Gray and say, “You might be my child, my ‘Bud’, my loverboy.”

It was round this time period, that Albert Snyder started having a sequence of unusual “accidents.” In the summertime of 1925, Albert was jacking up his household Buick in order that he might change a flat tire. Instantly, the jack slipped and the automobile fell, virtually crushing Albert to dying, as he rapidly scrambled out of hurt’s approach. A couple of days later, Albert had an issue with the crank of his automobile. He by some means hit himself on the top with the crank, and he fell to the bottom, unconscious. When Albert awoke, he nonetheless could not determine how his head might have been struck by that silly crank.

After these two fortunate breaks, or unfortunate breaks, in line with which approach you have a look at it, Albert had a 3rd accident. In August of 1925, Albert once more was working below his automobile in his indoor storage, with the engine operating. Being the nice spouse, Ruth introduced her husband a cool whiskey and soda to assist him battle the warmth. Ruth additionally instructed Albert how proud she was that he was such an excellent mechanic. Ruth then exited the storage, and some minutes after Albert drank the whiskey, he started to really feel drowsy. Albert glanced on the storage doorways, and was shocked to search out that as an alternative of the doorways being open, they had been now tightly closed, which was inflicting him to inhale noxious carbon monoxide fumes from the tailpipe of his operating automobile.

Ruth Snyder associated these three incidents to Judd Gray. Even when Albert Snyder did not notice what was occurring, Gray certain did. “What are you making an attempt to do?” Gray requested Ruth. “Kill the poor man?”

“Momsie cannot do it alone,” Ruth mentioned. “She wants assist. Lover Boy must assist her.”

On the time, Judd Gray thought, since they’d been consuming, it was the alcohol speaking, not Ruth. However the subsequent time they met, Gray realized for the primary time Ruth had been critical about killing her husband.

After a strenuous bout of lovemaking, Ruth blurted out triumphantly, “We’ll be okay for cash,” she mentioned. “I’ve simply tricked Albert into taking out some hefty life insurance coverage. He thinks it is just for $1000, but it surely’s actually for $96,000, if he dies accidentally. I put three totally different insurance policies in entrance of him, and solely let him see the house the place you signal. I instructed him it was a thousand buck coverage in triplicate. He is coated for $1000, $5000, and $45,000, with a double indemnity clause, in case of an unintentional dying.”

Even after Ruth Snyder had instructed Judd Gray that she was intent on killing her husband for the life insurance coverage settlements, Gray nonetheless had his doubts. Whereas the 2 love birds continued carrying on their torrid affair, Albert Snyder was almost killed in three extra “accidents.” In July of 1926, Albert fell asleep on his lounge sofa and virtually died as a result of somebody had unintentionally left on the fuel jets within the kitchen. In January 1927, Albert had a violent case of the hiccups. Ruth Snyder mentioned she had the right treatment for pickups, and he or she handed her husband a glass of bichloride of mercury. Albert guzzled down the drink, and instantly he turned violently unwell. But, Albert didn’t die. The very subsequent month Albert Snyder once more fell asleep on his lounge sofa, and he virtually expired, as a result of somebody had inadvertently left on the fuel faucet in the lounge.

After making an attempt to kill her husband six occasions, Ruth Snyder knew she wanted assist if she had been to achieve success. She instructed Judd Gray, “My husband has changed into a brute! He is even purchased a gun and says he’ll shoot me with it.”

In February 1927, Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray had been trysting within the Waldorf-Astoria resort in Midtown Manhattan. Ruth was firmly in cost, and after giving Gray a pleasant roll within the hay, she ordered Gray to go to Kingston, New York, to buy chloroform, a window sash weight, and film wire. She instructed him, that approach “we have now three technique of killing him Certainly one of them should absolutely work.”

Gray protested, however Ruth was to not be deterred. She mentioned, “Should you do not do as I say, that is the top of us in mattress. You’ll find your self one other Momsie to sleep with. Solely no person else would have you ever however me.”

Gray whined that he was not the sort to commit homicide, however Ruth saved on making use of the stress. One evening, when Albert and their daughter Lorraine weren’t at residence, Ruth overtly introduced Gray to her Queens Village home. They went upstairs to her daughter’s room, and had passionate intercourse. Gray at this level, completely terrified that he wouldn’t be capable to take pleasure in Ruth’s mad lovemaking anymore, reluctantly agreed to take part within the homicide of Albert Snyder.

From this level on, Ruth did all of the planning, and Gray did what she instructed him to do. They’d a number of clandestine conferences, the place Ruth laid out the step-by-step process how they’d kill her husband. One such assembly occurred at “Henry’s Swedish Restaurant,” with Ruth’s daughter Lorraine sitting on the identical desk with them, however not actually understanding what they had been speaking about: that her father was in imminent hazard of being murdered.

Within the early morning hours of March 20, 1927, Gray fortified by quite a lot of sips of whiskey from a pint bottle, boarded a bus from downtown Manhattan to the Snyder home in Queens. The home was empty, as a result of Ruth and Albert Snyder, together with their daughter Lorraine, had been at a bridge get together on the residence of one in all their neighbors, a Mrs. Milton Fidgeon. Ruth had left the aspect door unlocked, permitting Gray to enter the home. Gray hid himself in an empty bed room upstairs. Gray even introduced an Italian newspaper to plant later as a purple herring for the police.

At round 2 AM, the Snyder household returned residence. By this time Albert Snyder was fairly drunk, and he instantly went to mattress, and fell asleep in an alcohol-induced stupor. Ruth put Lorraine to mattress, then she slipped down the corridor to the additional bed room, the place Judd was hiding. Ruth was sporting only a slip and a négligée.

She kissed Gray, then mentioned, “Have you ever discovered the sash weight?” Gray instructed her that he had. Ruth mentioned, “Maintain quiet then. I will be again as fast as I can.”

A couple of minutes later, Ruth left the master suite and entered the bed room the place Gray was ready. They completed the final of the whiskey Gray had introduced with him, then she grabbed Gray by the hand and mentioned, “Okay, that is it.”

Ruth led Gray to the master suite. Gray was sporting rubber gloves so he would not depart any fingerprints. Ruth was carrying the window sash weight, the chloroform, and the piano wire. After they opened the bed room door, Gray noticed Albert Snyder for the primary time. After they closed the bed room door behind them, Gray raised the sash weight, introduced it over his head, and smashed it feebly down on Albert Snyder’s head. It was such an inconsequential blow, Albert Snyder sat up in mattress and tried to defend himself. Gray introduced the sash down on Albert Snyder’s head a second time, this time drawing a little bit blood. Albert Snyder, now enraged, clutched Gray’s necktie and commenced to strangle him with it. Gray screamed like a little bit woman. “Assist Momsie!” Gray mentioned. “For God’s sake, assist!”

Ruth grabbed the fallen stash weight, swung it over her head, and with all her appreciable may, she smashed it down onto her husband’s head. It was a debilitating blow, however Albert Snyder, now semi-conscious, was nonetheless alive. Along with her man-like energy, Ruth Snyder pinned her twitching husband’s physique down, and stuffed cotton, laced with chloroform, into his nostrils, and into his mouth. As Gray stood dumbfounded, Ruth Snyder tied her husband’s arms and toes, then she strangled her husband to dying with the piano wire.

With Albert Snyder now fairly useless, Ruth and Gray obtained busy washing the blood from their garments. Having achieved so, Gray placed on a clear blue shirt that belonged to Albert.

To make it seem like a theft gone awry, Ruth hid all her jewellery and furs, and in addition the sash that had been one of many homicide weapons. Then they went right down to the lounge and tousled all of the pillows and furnishings, to make it seem like robbers had overturned all the pieces on the lookout for valuables. That achieved, Gray loosely tied up Ruth, gagged her with cheesecloth, and left her within the empty bed room, with the Italian newspaper subsequent to her.

Gray was scheduled to journey to the Onondaga Resort in Syracuse, New York to renew promoting corsets. However earlier than he left, he seemed again at Ruth Snyder and mentioned, “It could be two months, it might be a yr, and perhaps by no means earlier than you see me once more.”

Proper after daybreak the next morning, Lorraine Snyder was woke up by a loud tapping sound that appeared to return from the hallway. She known as out to each her dad and mom, however obtained no reply. Lorraine ran out into the hallway and noticed her mom certain and gagged on the ground. Lorraine untied her mom and took the gag out of her mom’s mouth. Ruth jumped to her toes and ran from the home screaming, waking her neighbors Harriet and Louis Mulhauser. Ruth instructed them, crying, “It was dreadful, simply dreadful! I used to be attacked by a prowler. He tied me up. He should have been after my jewels.” Then she paused, “Is Albert all proper?”

Louis Mulhauser bumped into the Snyder home, up the steps and into the master suite. He discovered Albert Snyder certain and useless, with two large head wounds.

The police had been known as in instantly, and so they rapidly had been suspicious about the way in which the lounge had been tossed. The police interrogated Ruth Snyder as if she had been the perpetrator of a husband’s demise. Nonetheless, Ruth caught to her outlandish story. She insisted to the police, “I used to be attacked by a giant, tough – wanting man of about 35 with a black mustache. He was a foreigner, I assume some sort of Eyetalian.”

Dr. Harry Hansen was known as in by the police to look at Albert Snyder’s useless physique, and to look at Ruth Snyder for any signal that she had been assaulted. After analyzing Albert’s useless physique, and Ruth additionally, Dr. Hansen was satisfied that Ruth Snyder’s story was a whole fabrication. He gave his findings to Police Commissioner George McLaughlin, and the Police Commissioner agreed with Dr. Hansen’s conclusions. The Police Commissioner instantly despatched 60 policeman to encompass the Snyder residence, whereby Ruth was instantly arrested for questioning.

Whereas Ruth was being grilled on the station home, the Snyder home was searched. The police discovered Ruth’s rings and necklaces below a mattress, and a fur coat hanging in a closet. That satisfied the police that Ruth had made up your complete episode, and was most probably liable for a husband’s dying.

Within the Snyder residence, the police additionally discovered an tackle e-book, with the names of 28 totally different males in it, together with the title of Judd Gray. Additionally they discovered a canceled examine made out to Gray by Ruth Snyder for $200. Now the police knew that Ruth Snyder had had an confederate.

Armed with this info, the police utilized the screws to Ruth Snyder. They hoodwinked her into making a unfastened confession, by telling her that Judd Gray had already been arrested, and had named her because the killer of her husband. Ruth, incensed that her lover would rat her out so rapidly, lastly admitted that she certainly took half within the plan to kill her husband, however she pinned all the pieces on the shy corset salesman. “However I did not goal a single blow on Albert,” Ruth instructed the police. “That was all Judd’s doing. On the final second, I attempted to cease him, but it surely was too late!”

Realized she had been tricked, Ruth Snyder then instructed police the place they may discover Judd Gray. The police cornered Gray in a Syracuse resort and arrested him. Instantly, the often quiet Gray started speaking nonstop. He admitted all the pieces, precisely because it occurred, naming Ruth Snyder because the instigator of the entire sordid affair.

“I might have by no means killed Snyder, however for her,” Gray mentioned. “She had this energy over me. She simply instructed me what to do, and I did it.”

The each day New York Metropolis newspapers performed up the trial as “The Granite Girl,” versus the “Man of Putty.” The trial, which began on April 18, 1927, lasted 18 days. Through the trial, Ruth Snyder was dressed fully in black (clearly in mourning for her dearly-departed husband). She wore a crucifix on a sequence round her neck, and he or she constantly fiddled with rosary beads, which had been clutched in each arms on her lap. Judd Gray, wearing a double-breasted, blue pinstriped go well with, with fastidiously pressed trousers, sat impassively, as if he was resigned to his destiny.

Celebrities from across the nation attended the trial, with the considered writing books, and presumably making motion pictures about homicide. These folks included thriller author Mary Roberts Rinehart, director D. W. Griffith, writer Will Durant, actress Nora Bayes, and evangelists Billy Sunday and Aimee Semple McPherson.

One of many New York Metropolis’s high crime reporters, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, wrote within the New York Every day Mirror. “Poor Judd Gray! He hasn’t IT! He hasn’t something. He is only a sap who kissed and was instructed on. This ‘Putty Man’ was great modeling materials for the Swedish-Norwegian vampire. She was passionate, and he or she was cold-blooded. Her ardour was for Gray; her cold-bloodedness was for her husband. You understand lady can do issues to males that make males loopy. I imply, they will exert their affect over them in such a approach that males will do virtually something for them. And I assume that’s what Ruth did to Judd.”

The trial itself was a three-ring circus, by which every defendant blamed the opposite for the homicide of Albert Snyder. Ruth Snyder mentioned on the witness stand that it was Judd Gray who had dragged her to unlawful speakeasies and nightclubs. And it was he who drank till he obtained drunk. Snyder mentioned she did not drink herself, and positively by no means smoked. Then she instructed the massive lie. She mentioned below oath that it was Judd Gray who had insisted that she take out an costly life insurance coverage coverage on husband’s life. Ruth instructed the court docket, “As soon as, he even despatched me poison and instructed me to offer it to my husband.”

When Judd Gray took the stand, he was a way more plausible witness than Ruth Snyder. He instructed the court docket that Ruth Snyder had tried to kill her husband a number of occasions beforehand, however had been unsuccessful each time.

Gray mentioned below oath, “I instructed her she was loopy, when she instructed me that she had given a husband poison as a treatment for hiccups. I mentioned to her that it was a hell of a method to treatment hiccups.”

The complete time Gray was on the witness stand, Ruth Snyder sat together with her head bowed, crying incessantly and fingering her rosary beads. Ruth’s outbursts of sorrow had been so loud, the choose glared at her and instructed her to manage herself.

Gray’s lawyer tried to save lots of his consumer from the electrical chair, with a superb summation to the jury. Gray’s lawyer instructed the jury that his consumer was, “Essentially the most tragic story that has ever gripped the human coronary heart.” He mentioned Judd Gray was a, “law-abiding citizen who had been duped and dominated by a designing, lethal conscienceless, irregular lady, a human serpent, a human fiend in a disguise of a girl.” His lawyer additionally mentioned that Judd Gray had been “drawn into this hopeless chasm when cause was gone, thoughts was gone, manhood was gone, and when his thoughts was weakened by lust and keenness.”

On Might 9, after the jury deliberated solely 98 minutes, Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray had been each discovered responsible of first-degree, premeditated homicide. The choose instantly sentenced each of them to die within the electrical chair at Sing Sing jail. In her jail cell whereas she awaited her execution, Ruth Snyder obtained 164 marriage proposals.

On January 12, 1928, Judd Gray sat within the electrical chair first. After telling the Warden that he had obtained a letter from his spouse forgiving him, he instructed the Warden that, “He was able to go and had nothing to concern.”

4 minutes after Gray obtained the juice, Ruth Snyder sat down and was blindfolded within the electrical chair. An enterprising reporter from the New York Every day Information by some means entered the execution room with a tiny digicam strapped to his ankle. On the instantaneous the electrical shock jolted Ruth Snyder’s physique, the reporter snapped her image. That dying image appeared on the entrance web page of the New York Every day Information the next day.

In 1944, the extremely profitable and critically acclaimed film Double Indemnity, staring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, was launched. The plot was based mostly on the Ruth Brown Snyder and Judd Gray homicide case. In 2007, the American Movie Institute listed Double Indemnity because the 29th greatest film on their record of the highest 100 American motion pictures of all time.


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