Oct 19, 1931 the Golden State Limited from Phoenix, Arizona pulled into Los Angeles' Union Station. The passengers alighted from the train and collected their baggage. Eventually all of the baggage is claimed save for two trunks. Baggage handler, George Brooker, checked out the trunks. On closer inspection he was struck by a nauseating odor emanating from the trunks and he also noticed a dark liquid oozing down the sides which appeared to be blood. Thinking a hunter was trying to smuggle his kill past customs he reported his suspicions to the baggage agent, Jim Anderson.
A couple eventually approached the train and the woman requested her trunks. She presented a claim ticket for both. Jim Anderson questioned the woman as to the contents of her trunks. She stated that they were personal items. Anderson however remained suspicious and refused to release the trunks and demanded that she open them. The woman insisted that the trunks belonged to her husband and that she would have to go get the keys. She and her companion hurried to their car and departed from the station. Anderson phoned the police. Lt. Frank Ryan of the L.A.P.D. kneeled down to open the large trunk first. He was assaulted with the odor and he immediately recognized the smell. It was the smell of death. He picked the lock, lifted the lid and peeled back a layer of clothing. Staring blankly back at him was the face of a dead woman. The smaller trunk contained the upper portion of a second female. Her body had been surgically dissected at the waist. The rest of her body parts were found in a suitcase and a hatbox that contained a .25 caliber pistol, a butcher knife and a surgical bag. The police traced the baggage back to a passenger who had boarded the train Sunday evening in Phoenix, Winnie Ruth Judd!
Facts of the case: (Key Players in the Murder Case)
Winnie Ruth Judd had met and befriended Agnes Anne LeRoi and her close friend Hedvig "Sammy" Samuelson.
Anne and Sammy were "party girls", a 1930's euphemism for prostitutes. They threw lavish parties and entertained several well-connected and influential gentlemen. One of these men was Jack Halloran, who gave the girls large monetary gifts, along with food and bootleg liquor.
Despite the fact that they were both married, Winnie and Jack were lovers. Winnie was also jealous of the attention that Jack lavished on Anne and Sammy.
Winnie owned a .25 caliber pistol which she had left with Annie and Sammy.
On the evening of October 16, 1931 Ruth was present at the girls' house. Later that night Sammy was shot in the upper abdomen, her left arm and the right side of her head with a .25 caliber pistol. Anne was shot once in the head with a different caliber pistol. Anne was folded into the large trunk. Sammy was dissected and her body parts were dispersed between the smaller trunk and the suitcase.
Winnie Ruth Judd was arrested and charged with the murder of Agnes Anne LeRoi. The prosecutor claimed that her motive was jealousy. That Winnie had shot the two women while they were asleep in their beds and had stuffed Anne's body into the larger trunk and had hacked up Sammy's body before putting part of her body into the smaller trunk. The prosecution buried any evidence that pointed to someone other than Winnie and that she had acted alone the murders. The prosecutor also claimed that Winnie had shot herself after the fact in an effort to insinuate a struggle had occurred. In the 1930's the prosecution was not required to release any of the police evidence to the defense.
Winnie Ruth Judd was not allowed to take the stand!
Police Evidence Not Presented During the Trial:
Ruth gave a statement to the police in which she claimed that she and the two women had gotten into an argument that turned physical. She said that Sammy threatened her with her own gun and when she tried to grab the gun that she was shot in the hand. Winnie claimed that Anne began beating her with the ironing board and by then Winnie had wrested the gun from Sammy. She stated that the gun had been fired three times and all of them collapsed on the floor. Winnie states that when she came to, she saw the girls lying on the floor and assumed that she had killed them. She hurried home and notified Jack Halloran of the events that had taken place. She stated that she and Jack returned to the scene and he took control of the situation from there.
When arrested Ruth had to undergo emergency surgery to remove the bullet from her hand. The doctor also discovered and photographed 147 injuries covering Winnie's body. In her estimation the physician documented that "Mrs Judd put up a tremendous fight for her life."
Several witnesses told police that they had seen Winnie with a bandaged hand after Friday night.
The doctor who performed the autopsy of Sammy stated that whoever cut her up had an extensive knowledge of anatomy such as a surgeon or experienced physician. Winnie Ruth Judd had no such knowledge.
During the search of the home of Anne LeRoi and Sammy Samuelson the police found a diary belonging to Ms. LeRoi. The diary is purported to contain the names of certain "influential" gentlemen who frequented the ladies' residence. A diary that if was made public could cause an embarrassing scandal for quite a few prominent men in the Arizona hierarchy.
Winnie Ruth Judd was never tried for the murder of Hedvig "Sammy" Samuelson. To do so would have raised to many questions for which the prosecution and others did not want answers.
On February 8, 1932 Winnie Ruth Judd was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. In a surprising twist of fate the Warden at the Arizona State Prison petitioned for and was granted a sanity hearing and just 72 hours before her scheduled execution, Winne Ruth Judd was found insane. She was sent to the Arizona State Hospital when she spent the next 40 years.
To this day questions still remain about the murders. Many people suspect that Judd was sacrificed in order to protect her well-connected accomplices. Exactly what was Winnie Ruth Judd guilty of doing?
Arizona Stories: Winnie Ruth Judd