Keep Your Head On!

3/31/2009


In one of the most grotesque executions in Arizona history, Eva Dugan was hanged on February 21, 1930. The events of her execution would force Arizona to change it's method of capital punishment to the more "humane" gas chamber.
In January 1927 Eva went to work for Tucson chicken rancher Andrew J. Mathis. She was fired a couple of weeks later. Shortly thereafter, Mathis disappeared. When the sheriff, Jim McDonald, investigated the disappearance he found that Mathis's car and his cashbox was missing but otherwise the house was in order. The neighbors reported that Eva had been offering some of his possessions for sale. Mathis's car was traced to Kansas City where Eva had sold it for $600. Eva was eventually traced to White Plains, New York and on March 4 1927 she was extradited back to Arizona where she was tried for car theft and was sentenced to prison.

Nine months later a camper staying over night at the Mathis ranch uncovered a shallow grave while trying to pitch a tent. The decomposing body, which of course turned out to be Mathis, was covered in lime and a gag was stuffed in his mouth. Eva was charged with his murder.
Even though the evidence against her was circumstantial, Eva Dugan was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death by hanging.
On February 21, 1930 @ 05:02 a.m., Eva Dugan was hanged. Actually the more accurate description would be hung and guillotined. As the trap door opened Eva plunged through to her death. She hit the end of the rope with a bone jarring jolt. Unfortunately for her the executioner had miscalculated the length of the rope and her weight. When she reached the end of her rope the jolt caused her head to be torn from her body which then rolled towards the feet of the spectators who had gathered to witness her execution.



Mary Frances Avery was a domineering, manipulative and deceptive woman who would have definitely benefited from some serious anger management.
Orphaned at the age of 14 she moved to Newark, N.J. where she met her future husband, John Creighton. They moved in with his parents, Walter and Anna Creighton, after the wedding and Mary began weaving her path of destruction.
John was the quintessential henpecked husband, a fact that did not sit well with his mother. Mary ran roughshod over anyone who crossed her path which led to constant battles with her mother-in-law. On the pretext of making amends, Mary insisted on making Anna a cup of hot cocoa. After drinking the cocoa Anna became violently ill. A week later she was dead! Her death was attributed to ptomaine poisoning.
Knowing that he did not approve of her either, Mary next set out to rid herself of her father in-law, Walter. He became stricken with the same symptoms as his wife. Within 5 days he too was dead!
Living in the same house with Mary, John, and his parents was Mary's 18-year-old brother Raymond. She insisted that he buy an insurance policy and name her the sole beneficiary. Shortly after obtaining the policy Raymond was seized with agonizing stomach cramps. Mary "lovingly" tended to him as she had her in-laws. She remained at his bedside and fed him coffee and chocolate pudding. Three weeks later Raymond joined Anna and Walter in eternal slumber. This time however the family doctor was suspicious, about time too! An autopsy was performed and the cause of death was ruled a homicide due to arsenic poisoning. Both Mary and John were charged with first-degree murder and put on trial. Unfortunately the prosecution could not conclusively prove that either of them caused Raymond's death leaving the jury with no choice but to acquit both of them. Their suspisions aroused the police exumed the bodies of Anna and Walter Creighton. Trace amounts of arsenic were found in Anna's body tissue. Mary Creighton found herself on trial for again. This time she was charged with the murder of Anna Creighton. Again the prosecution was unable to prove that it was indeed Mary who had poisoned Anna and again she was acquitted of the charge. Mary Creighton had covered her tracks well and had outwitted the police.
They may have been aquitted of the crimes but the public let them know in no uncertain terms that they were guilty as sin. The Creightons fled the state of New Jersey and moved to New York.
John and Mary "Frances" Creighton and their daughter Ruth settled in the Long Island area of New York. John, a World War I veteran joined the American Legion and it was here that he met and befriended Everett Applegate.
Everett, along with his wife Ada and their teenage daughter, lived with his in-laws. Ada was a hefty woman weighing in at approximately 280 pounds. She spent the majority of her time in bed rising only to eat and fight with Everett.
It was the height of the Depression era and like most Americans the Creightons and Applegates were struggling. John Creighton approached Everett Applegate with a proposition. He invited Everett along with his family to move in to his home as long as Everett contributed to the household bills. Everett, having nefarious plans of his own quickly agreed.
Shortly after moving in Everett and Mary began an affair that lasted six months. In addition to sleeping with Mary, Everett also seduced and carried on an illicit affair with her daughter Ruth. Ruth was 14 at the time. Everett was 36. When Mary discovered the truth about their relationship she confronted her daughter who admitted that they were sleeping together and had even had sex several times in same bed with Ada, while she slept. Or so they thought! Rumors concerning the raunchy affair between Everett and Ruth were beginning to circulate around Baldwin. It would appear that these rumors had been started by none other than Ada Applegate herself. Something had to be done!
In late August of 1935 Ada Applegate had to be hospitalized for a severe stomach ailment. She was released one week later. Immediately following her release she was dead! Given her obesity and sedentary lifestyle her death was originally attributed to heart failure. Unfortunately for Mary she pissed off the wrong person. The police received a package containing old newspaper clips from an anonymous source. The clips revealed how Mary how been on trial for murder twice before. Suspicious the police interupted the funeral and seized Ada Applegate's body in order to have an autospy performed. The medical examiner found that her body contained enough arsenic to kill three people.

In a grueling interrogation Mary Creighton finally broke down and admitted to her part in the murder of Ada Applegate. Perhaps in an attempt to punish him for sleeping with her daughter she also implicated Everett. She explained to the police that she and Everett went to a drug store where she purchased "Rough on Rats" and she began dosing Ada with the arsenic in small quantities at first which she later increased when it seemed to have no affect on her. She stated that the night that Ada returned home from the hospital she sprinkled arsenic on Ada's food and mixed more in her milk. According to her the following night Everett Applegate mixed a dose of arsenic in Ada's eggnog which she drank prior to going to sleep. Ada woke up gravely ill and as she lay there dying from the effects of the poison Everett put another glass of eggnog to Ada's lips and forced her to drink some more of the poisoned mixture. She died the following day.
Even though they only had her word to go on, a confession that she changed as often as she change her undergarments, Everett was arrested and charged with not only statutory rape but first-degree murder.
John Creighton was also interviewed by the police and either he was one heck of an actor or he was totally clueless because no charges were ever brought against him.
Mary Creighton and Everett Applegate went on trial for murder on January 19, 1936. The defense strategy for Applegate was brilliant, or at least they thought it would be. He freely and in disgustingly frank detail related the account of his affair with Mary's daughter Ruth. The hope was that he would be convicted of the rape charges but absolved of his wife's murder. If that was the defense attorney's plan then he should have kept his client off of the witness stand or at least he should have prepared him better. By the time Applegate slithered off of the witness stand he had so repulsed the jury and incensed the public who had gathered to witness the trial he had to be shielded by armed guards to keep from being attacked by the angry mob on his way back to his cell.
Mary fared no better when it was her turn to take the stand. When the prosecution was done with his relentless questioning she looked like a blubbering fool. The trial ended on January 25, 1936. They were both found guilty of first-degree murder and 4 days later they were sentenced to death in the electric chair.
July 16, 1936, the day, or should I say night, of reckoning! Mary Creighton would meet her maker in one of the strangest executions on record. She was unconscious! She had fainted from the overwhelming terror of what was to come and never regained consciousness. Mary Creighton had to be wheeled into the death chamber, hefted up by prison guards, placed into "Old Sparky", and firmly strapped in to keep from falling out of the chair.
At 11:09, moments after Ruth's body was removed from the chair, Everett Applegate walked into the chamber to keep his appointment with death. Putting on a brave front he faced the small gathering who had come to witness his execution. These were his final words; "Before God, gentlemen, I'm absolutely innocent of this crime and I hope the good God will have mercy on the soul of Martin W. Littleton!" Littleton was the prosecutor who helped Applegate seal his own fate. At that he was strapped into the chair and followed Mary into eternity. Her final victim!

Independence Missouri 1956, 16-year-old Sharon Hall found herself in the unenviable position of mother-to-be. Not given must choice she and the baby's father, John Kinne wed in October. The marriage quickly soured and Sharon began a not-so-secretive affair with a friend from high-school, John Boidizs.

Deeply in debt, Sharon and John got into frequent arguments over their finances and her desire to buy a new Thunderbird. Finally fed up with the lies and cheating John demanded a divorce.

Sharon took the news in stride or so it seemed. If anyone was going to end the marriage it was going to be her and on her terms. She waited until he fell asleep on the couch and then calmly walked up to him and shot him in the head with a 22-caliber pistol.

When the police arrived she managed to act appropriately distraught as she explained that her husband was shot accidentally by her 2-year-old daughter who was playing with the gun while she was in the bathroom, definitely not mother-of-the-year material!

Unbelievably the police actually bought her bizarre tale and the death was ruled a accident!

As soon she as collected the insurance money she immediately purchased her new blue car. You guessed it a Thunderbird! In addition she collected a new beau, the salesman, Walter Jones.

Two months into their affair Kinne announced to Jones that she was pregnant and that she expected him to marry her. Jones had other ideas. He explained to her that he had no intentions of leaving his wife. Sharon, quite undeterred, came up with a new game plan. Patricia Jones, Walter's wife, disappeared suddenly. Sharon told Walter that she had met with his wife to tell her that he was having an affair with Sharon's sister, there is no sister. She suggested that maybe his wife had left him. The reaction she got was unexpected to say the least. Walter put a knife to her throat and threatened her. She agreed to look for his wife. Sharon Kinnes along with John Boldiz happened to "locate" the remains of Patricia Jones at a local lovers lane. She had been shot four times with a .22-caliber pistol. Sharon sure loved her .22's!
Since she was the last person seen with Mrs. Jones, Sharon was arrested and charged with her murder. She was also indicted for the murder of her husband since the same caliber and type of weapon was used to kill him.

Sharon Kinne was acquitted of the murder of Patricia Jones because ballistics failed to match the bullets from her gun to the ones that killed Mrs Jones. She was however found guilty and was sentenced to life in prison for the death of her husband. Her conviction was later overturned and she was ordered a new trial. A second and third trial both ended in mistrials.

A fourth trial was set for October of 1964. Sharon Kinne had had enough. She hooked up with a small-time thug named Samuel Puglise and skipped the country for Mexico.
Once in Mexico she dumped Puglise and met up with Franciso Parades Ordonz. They checked into another hotel where they registered as man and wife. Two shots rang out hours later and Sharon ran from the room and tried to escape but the gate to the motel was locked. When Enrique Rueda, the hotel manager, refused she shot him also but he managed to somehow wrestle the gun from her and hold her until the police arrived.

Ordonoz was shot twice in the heart. Sharon claimed to the Mexican authorities that she had shot him in self-defense when he attacked her. The authorities didn't even blink an eye as they dismissed her explanation and charged her with murder and attempted robbery. She was held without bail, definitely weren't giving her a chance to escape, until her trial. She was found guilty and immediately sentenced to 10 years in prison. At this point she should have learned to keep her mouth shut because when she appealed the conviction the Mexican court increased her sentence to 13 years.
Sharon had no intentions of complying meekly to her sentence. On December 7, 1969 she disappeared from the Ixtapalapa Women's Prison. She has not been seen or heard from since.
There are those who are of the opinion that Sharon Kinne is dead. In my opinion, however, I think Sharon learned from her mistakes. She learned how to create a new person and completely covered her tracks and if she was still up to her murdering ways she definitely did not leave any evidence behind!

If you are stupid enough to kill your spouse at least come up with a plausible alibi, and you might want to remember that all your jailhouse conversations are recorded.
















Stephen Grant was Mr. Mom. Tara Grant was a successful career woman and loving mother.
On February 14, 2007 Stephen Grant reported his wife missing. The police discovered that she actually went missing 5 days earlier.
Over the next few weeks Grant granted several interviews during which he portrayed himself as the emotionally distraught husband who was trying to shield his young children. A role that he would cruelly abandon.

The events that lead to his arrest and well deserved conviction are as follows:

  • Police obtained phone records which show that no calls were placed from Tara's cell phone or the home phone on the night of her disappearance.
  • A woman walking in the woods at Stoney Creek Metro Park discovered a Ziploc bag which contained latex gloves, baggies, metal shavings and blood.
  • Detectives obtained a search warrant for the Grant home and Stephen Grant's place of business.
  • Stephen Grant allowed police to execute their search warrant (as if he had a choice). He is granted permission to take his dog for a walk. He went to a neighbor's house and asked to borrow his truck. Stephen Grant disappears!
  • Investigators find a green plastic container containing Tara Grant's torso in the garage.
  • The following day more body parts were found in a wooded area in Stony Creek Metropark.
  • Grant was pursued and captured in Wilderness State Park. He was airlifted to Northern Michigan Hospital where he was treated for frostbite and hypothermia.
  • While hospitalized Grant gave a full confession as to how he strangled and then dismembered Tara's body in his father's tool and dye shop.

Grant was tried and found guilty of the charge of murder in the second degree. Unfortunately his monstrous behavior did not end here. While waiting for his sentencing he was visited by his sister, Kelly Utykanski. During the conversation he showed no remorse for the brutal way he murdered and dismembered his wife. As a matter of fact he and his sister made a joke about it. They joked about whether Tara was buried with all her body parts in one casket. Kelly talked about how she wanted to gag during Tara's eulogy. It was a disgusting display of human indecency on both their parts. Their remarks were recorded on 50 hours of taped conversation. Kelly passed herself off as a loving and protective aunt, at one point denouncing her brother in public, when all the while she was laughing about their mother's murder behind their back. To make matters worse she had previously been locked in a custody battle for the children with Alicia Standerfer, Tara's sister. Thank God she lost!

Stephen Grant richly deserved the death penalty. Not only did he take the life of their mother, he destroyed the lives of his children. After the trial it was revealed that the children witnessed the horrific murder of their mother.

I'll bet those three jurors who resisted first degree murder wish they could go back and change their vote!

While writing this post I kept seeing visions of the Cary Grant movie; "Arsenic and Old Lace."
A madcap black comedy directed by Frank Capra.

Sarah Powers was a 71-year-old widow who took in boarders to make ends meet. She would advertise in the paper for a willing young man to help with the chores. When James Parks, 25, and Earl Manchester, 21, responded to the ad she took in both of them. Six weeks later the body of James Parks was found on the banks of the Ocmulgee river with two bullet holes to the back of his head. The authorities traced the victim back to the boarding house and all of Mrs. Powers devious dealings quickly fell apart. Sarah Powers was definitely not the motherly type. She had a black heart.
When it was revealed that Mrs Powers had taken out a $7,000 life insurance policy on James Parks it did not take long for the authorities to suspect that something foul was afoot. Their suspicion led them directly to Earl Manchester who eventually confessed to committing the murder. Manchester confessed that Mrs Powers had offered him $1,000 which he would receive when when she collected on the policy. As expected, the policy included a double indemnity clause which would play out $14,000 if the victim died a violent death.
In addition to Parks, Claude P. Burham, another boarder at Mrs. Powell's house, disappeared after she had taken out a $5,000 policy on him. His body was never found and the agent who wrote the policy, E. E. Valentine was killed under mysterious circumstances. His death was never solved.
Hollis L. Mullis escaped her plans for him when he failed to pass his physical exam for a $12,000 policy. T. S. Martin, a photographer's assistant, became suspicious when she approached him and offered to pay the premiums on his policy.
Both Sarah Powers and Earl Manchester were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
One final note: Sarah Powers apparently stiffed Earl Manchester on his payment for the murder. According to him all he received was $10 and her thanks. Think he would have been her next victim if they hadn't got caught?

Deadly Priest

3/15/2009

On February 18, 1916, Father Hans Johannes Schmidt earned the dubious distinction of becoming the only priest to be executed for murder in the U.S.

September 5, 1913, two young men walking along the Jersey shoreline of the Hudson River came across a package floating in the water. Overcome with curiosity they retrieved the package and opened it. Inside was the lower torso of a body that had been severed at the waist. The next day, further downriver, a second package was found containing the upper portion of the headless body wrapped in a pillowcase monogrammed with the letter A.

Physicians who performed the autopsy determined the body to be that of a young woman and the she had given birth prematurely right before she was murdered.

The detectives traced the tag on the pillowcase back to the manufacturer which led them to an apartment on Bradhurst Ave in Manhattan. Once they entered the apartment the police were convinced that this was where the murder had occurred. There were bloodstains on the wallpaper and floor which someone had struggled to remove by scouring them. There were two trunks in the apartment and which were opened to examine the contents. Inside were letters addressed to an Anna Aumuller, woman's clothing and several small handkerchiefs embroidered with the same letter A that was found on the pillowcase. The detectives also discovered a butcher knife and a large handsaw that had been scrubbed clean. They learned that the apartment had been rented by Hans Schmidt for a female relative of his who was to be married soon.

Reading through the letters the detectives were able to find her last place of employment, St. Boniface's Church. Anna Aumuller was a 21-year-old German immigrant who had worked as a servant in the church's rectory until she was discharged because of her questionable life style. It was also learned that a priest named Hans Schmidt had been assigned to the church at the same time Aumuller was employed there. It was further learned that Schmidt had been assigned to St. Joseph's after leaving St. Boniface's.

Upon arriving at St. Joseph's the detectives were led into a small office to wait for Father Schmidt. When he entered the office the lead detective, Inspector Faurot, introduced himself and his partners as homicide detectives. The look of shock and sheer terror on his face convinced them that they would have to search no further for their murderer.
Psychopathic personality disorder is described as one who derives immense gratification from criminal, sexual, or aggressive behaviors. Someone who is incapable of feeling guilt, remorse or empathy for their actions. Father Schmidt was a poster child for psychopaths.

As a child, Hans Schmidt became obsessed with Catholic rituals. Known as the little priest, he immersed himself in his role, right down to a homemade altar, complete with cassocks and collar fashioned for him by his mother. She was off the deep-end too when it came to religious fervor. Along with his religious conviction he developed an intense perversion for becoming sexually aroused at the sight of blood. Many afternoons he would be seen at the nearby slaughterhouse where cows and pigs were killed and prepared for the local butchers. He would sit for long hours mesmerised by the bloody mutilation of these helpless animals. Before long he had indulged in his own private slaughtering ritual. However his prey were not destined for the butcher shops.

During his trial the evidence presented against him threw Father Schmidt's authenticity as a priest in to question. He was ordained into the Catholic priesthood in 1906 at the Mainz seminary in Germany. The ceremony supposedly took place at night to the exclusion of all others. In 1909 Schmidt was suspended from the priesthood for forging fraudulent educational credentials. He was arrested and barely escaped punishment because he had been declared insane by the courts.

With his career as a German priest in shambles, Hans Schmidt beat a hasty retreat. With financial help from his father and monies he had extorted from elderly parishioners he fled to America.

During the search of his trunk, the police had uncovered forged diplomas and recommendations which Schmidt used to establish a connection with the Catholic Church upon his arrival to America. Also found among his possessions were business cards bearing the name Dr. Emil Moliere. Upon questioning Schmidt admitted that he often posed as a surgeon and that he had indeed studied medicine at one time.

Father Schmidt enjoyed playing roles. He gained a perverse pleasure in the suffering of his victims and showed no remorse for the pain he caused. If it is to be believed he was suffering from insanity and was in no way responsible for his actions. Personally, I believe he attempted to use the insanity defense to his advantage. Unfortunately for him his plan backfired. He had escaped punishment once before because the court had declared him legally insane and he bet that the jury would reach the same conclusion when he went on trial for the murder of his "wife". Even his confession to the police was staged. He pretended to be racked with remorse as he spun his bizarre tale of marriage, murder, and dismemberment when in truth he had no remorse for the horrific crime he had committed. He definitely lost the coin toss this time. He went on trial twice with the first trial ending in a hung jury. In his second trial however, he was convicted of murder and was sentenced to death. On February 18, 1916, Father Hans Johannes Smith met his fate with "Old Sparky".

On Jan. 12, 1928 Ruth Snyder became the first woman to be executed in New York State in the 20th century. She and her lover, Judd Gray were convicted of murdering her husband, magazine editor Albert Snyder. The bumbling duo were so inept that the crime earned the dubious distinction as the "dumb-bell murder".


Albert Snyder was a man of means. He loved the outdoors and sports and spent many hours boating and fishing. As the art editor of Motor Boating he was able to indulge in one of his favorite pastimes while making a living. However, at the age of 32, his life was still lacking. He had been engaged once before to Jessie Guishard for 10 years. Before the wedding could take place she contracted Pneumonia and died. Albert had worshiped her and was still obsessed with her even after her death. Albert's fate was decided due to a mis-dialed phone number.
Ruth Brown was born in Manhattan in 1895, the daughter of a working-class family. At the age of 13 she left school and got a job as a telephone operator. At night she took business classes in typing and shorthand. She soon landed a job as a stenographer at Cosmopolitan Magazine. Her path crossed with Albert Snyder's when she mistakenly dialed his number instead of the manufacturer she had intended. Apparently Mr Snyder had let out an angry tirade when he realized that she had phoned him in error. He immediately apologized after hearing her distressed apology and was intrigued by her voice. They spoke on the phone for several days before meeting in person. After meeting face-to-face Albert was completed captivated and he offered to help her get a job at Motor Boating magazine. The two were soon dating regularly and in late 1915 they were married; Albert was 33 and Ruth was 20.
Their marriage was in trouble from the start. Albert still harbored deep feelings for his former fiance and kept a portrait of her hanging on their living room wall. Albert was more mature and serious minded. Ruth liked to have a good time. Albert liked to stay at home and he enjoyed being outdoors, hiking and sailing.
Ruth became pregnant and in 1918 she gave birth to a baby girl. Albert was not pleased. He had no desire to have children and was even doubly disappointed when Ruth did not give birth to a son. In 1923 they moved from New York City to the suburbs of Queens Village. Soon after Ruth's mother moved in giving her a live-in babysitter. Ruth would frequently disappear from her home and take the train to Manhattan where she would drink bootleg gin, play cards and party all night with her friends. Bored with married life, she had a succession of boyfriends while her daughter, Lorraine, was still an infant. According to Ruth her husband Albert was clueless to her infidelity. Maybe, but then again he could have reached a point in his life where he just didn't care anymore.
It was her final affair with Judd Gray that would bring about not only the demise of her marriage but also three lives.
Judd Gray was described as a soft-spoken, courteous, and unassuming man. He was slightly built, with dark hair and wore thick glasses. He was born in 1882 and from the crib he was groomed to take over his father's jewelry business. He was an obedient and mindful child who usually conformed to his family's wishes. He had a very strong bond with his mother and was admittedly a mama's boy. He went to work for his father as planned but eventually left the business and obtained a job with the Bien Jolie Corset Company.
He married his childhood sweetheart, Isabel, and they had one child, a daughter. Even though they had been married for over ten years he was unhappy in his marriage. His wife was shy and self-effacing. She did not possess the strong character that he attributed to his mother. Yearning for an emotional connection and physical passion that was sorely lacking in his marriage made him ripe for the picking on that fateful day in June of 1925 when he caught the eye of Ruth Snyder.
n June of 1925 when Albert Snyder decided to take a vacation on his own with a few business associates, Ruth Snyder decided to go shopping in Manhattan with a friend of hers. They chose to dine at Henry's, a popular Swedish restaurant in mid-town. It was there through a mutual friend that Ruth was introduced to Judd Gray. They struck up a conversation that lasted for several hours in which they revealed intimate secrets to each other. Over the next few weeks they met frequently for lunch. Eventually their friendship blossomed into a romantic liaison. Their favorite trysting place became the Waldorf-Astoria where they would register as Mr. and Mrs. Gray. On several occasions Ruth was forced to bring her daughter along and she was left unattended in the lobby of the hotel while Ruth and Judd engaged in their afternoon bed-play.
Their insatiable desire for each other continued for nearly two years. From the very beginning Ruth was the dominant partner in the affair. As Gray's lawyer would later describe the relationship during his trial, "Ruth Snyder was a poisonous snake... who was abnormal, possessed of an all-absorbing sexual passion and animal lust which was never satisfied. Judd Gray was enslaved. Whatever she wanted, he did." The man might have just have had "sucker" stamped on his forehead. His willingness to blindly follow her lead allowed Ruth to lay down the groundwork that would ultimately lead to death of her husband.
All though they disagree on who broached the subject first, their conversation eventually turned towards Albert Snyder. Ruth wanted out of the marriage. She embellished upon her treatment at the hands of her husband casting her self as the victim of a brutal villain. Her stories were designed to rouse anger and hatred in Judd and to that end they eventually succeeded. When Ruth told Judd that Albert had threatened to kill her it was the final straw and the plan to kill him was set in motion.

Ruth had taken out several life insurance policies one of which was in the amount of $48,000 and had a double indemnity clause attached to it. Ruth needed an accomplice. On several occasions she had attempted to kill Albert herself, but she complained to Judd that he just wouldn't die.
Judd claimed that Ruth had admitted to him that she had tried to poison his food but it only made him sick. On another occasion she unhooked the gas line in the kitchen while he slept and left the house. When she returned instead of finding him dead he was outside on the front lawn complaining of a headache. Next she closed him inside the garage with the car's engine running and he still managed to survive. Apparently Ruth had never heard of the saying "quit while you're ahead." or behind as was in her case. On his part, it appears Albert never suspected that his wife was trying to kill him. He chalked the events up to a series of unfortunate accidents.
They agreed upon a plan as to how to commit the murder and set the date for March 7th. Judd spent the day drinking heavily to summon the courage. He even made it to the house but at the last minute was unable to go through with the killing. Ruth undeterred was eventually able to convince Judd to try again and this time she succeeded in obtaining her ultimate goal.

The date was set yet again, March 19th. Ruth, Albert and their daughter would be attending a party at their friend's house and they would be expected to be gone all evening. As the time grew near to set the plan in motion, Judd purchased chloroform, a large window sash weight, and picture wire. On Saturday, March 19th, the Snyders went to the party as planned. Before she left Ruth unlocked a back door and this time there would be no turning back.
On Saturday, March 19th, just as they had planned, Judd entered the Snyder's residence through the back door that Ruth had left unlocked. Again he had spent most of the day drinking in order to summon up the courage to go through with their plan. He hid in the spare bedroom when Ruth had left the instruments for murder he had purchased earlier. The family returned around 2 AM and Albert went directly to bed. Ruth put their daughter to bed and on the way to the bedroom she shared with her husband she checked to make sure that Judd was in the spare bedroom. After she was sure that her husband was sleeping Ruth led a drunken Judd to the master bedroom. Judd raised the sash weight and brought it down onto Albert's head. The pitiful blow merely grazed his skull, dazed but not incapacitated, Albert came out fighting. He was physically stronger than Judd and it was soon apparent that he would not be able to handle him by himself. Ruth jumped into the fray, picked up the sash weight and proceeded to crash it down on to her husband's skull. As Judd tied Albert's hands behind his back Ruth took a handkerchief laden-ed with chloroform and pressed it to Albert's nose and mouth. She then took the picture wire, tied it around Albert's neck and pulled hard. Albert finally lost consciousness and ceased all movement.
Once they were sure that her husband was dead, Ruth and Judd went to the basement. They removed their bloody clothes and threw them into the furnace. They then returned to the master bedroom where Ruth proceeded to give Judd one of her husbands shirts to put on.

Now it was time for them to stage the scene. Their plan was to make the killing look like a burglary. They emptied the contents of the dresser onto the floor and scattered some items about the room. Now here is where they get real brilliant. Ruth took her jewelry box, placed it in a bag and hid it under her mattress. Then she laid down on the floor and had Judd tie her hands and feet and put cheesecloth over her mouth. Judd left the house and walked to the nearest bus stop. Maybe it was because of the amount of liquor he had consumed, but for some strange reason Judd Gray did everything in his power to make himself as conspicuous as possible. First he struck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman who was also waiting for the bus. Next he spotted a policeman walking his beat and asked him when the next bus was due. And as if that wasn't enough when he got off of the bus at the Jamaica station he hailed a taxi and the cheapskate gave the driver a nickel tip.

Meanwhile back at the Snyder residence, Lorraine Snyder was wakened by the muffled, but unmistakable voice of her mother. Again without regard for her feelings, Ruth used her daughter as part of her plan. The child walked into the master bedroom and was exposed to the site of her father beaten and bloody on the bed and her mother tied up on the floor. The child went to a neighbor's house and the police were summoned to the scene. When they arrived it soon became apparent that something was fishy.

When the police arrived, the scene was utterly chaotic and a tad bit overdone. The place was trashed beyond what would be expected for a burglary. There were no signs of forced entry and the loaded pistol Albert kept under his pillow was never used. Surely Ruth knew it was there. And then, big surprise, the police somehow managed to find her carefully hidden jewels under the mattress. The police also found a handwritten phonebook belonging to Ruth with the name H. Judd Gray. They also found evidence of a check made out to Judd for $200. When questioned Ruth denied knowing him. A missing pillowcase was found in the hamper covered in blood. She couldn't come up with a good explanation for that one. Ruth claimed that she had been unconscious for several hours, however when examined by the medical examiner on the scene there was no evidence of bruising on her head.
Based on all the inconsistencies the police decided to take Ruth to the old Jamaica Town Hall for further questioning. During their interrogation the police decided to trick her. They told her that Gray was taken into custody and had confessed to murder. Ruth folded like a two-dollar fan. She gave the police her statement admitting to helping with the murder.
Meanwhile detectives were dispatched to Syracuse to bring Judd Gray in for questioning. Something happened to Judd during the train ride back to New York City. He opened his mouth and his confession started pouring out. He was brought to the office of the District of Attorney where he repeated his confession and signed a formal statement. Within four days of their arrest Ruth and Judd were indicted for First Degree Murder. Ruth would quickly recant her confession stating that she had been coerced into signing the confession after being treated brutally at the hands of the police. She should not have even wasted her breath. Ruth Snyder was portrayed in the press as a cold-blooded, sex-crazed manipulator with a mystical power over men. There was no sympathy to be found for her by the majority of wives and mothers.
On the other hand, Judd Gray was often portrayed as the victim, as a good man who's life had been shattered by a diabolical temptress. Give me a break! On April 25, 1927 they would go on trial together.

On January 12, 1928, they were both put to death in Sing Sing's electric chair. Ruth was the first to meet her fate in "Old Sparky". She was led into the execution chamber flanked on either side by prison matrons. She was hysterical and had to be forced into the chair. Once she was strapped in and the black leather death mask was placed over her face she began praying, "Father forgive them, they know not what they do." Manipulator to the end! One of the matrons overcome with the horror of the moment stumbled back a few steps and turned away from the scene. In a chamber behind the chair, the switch was flipped. Her actions provided a direct line of vision to a rather ingenious newspaper photographer. He quickly seized the opportunity to visually record her dance of death. He raised his trousers and aimed a small camera he had attached to his ankle. Click! The photograph appeared on the front pages of the New York Daily News the next day. Minutes later she was pronounced dead and her body was removed from the chair in order prepare for the next victim.
Judd Gray walked quietly into the chamber exchanging beatitudes with the chaplain who walked by his side. More accepting of his fate than Ruth he sat quietly as he was strapped in and the death mask was placed over his head. The electric current was released and "Old Sparky" claimed its next victim but not before Judd's feet caught on fire.