The Snyder-Gray Murder Case Part 1

About the Snyder-Gray murder case where wife Ruth Snyder hired Judd Gray to kill her husband for insurance money.


The Murder: The murder of Albert Snyder on March 20, 1927, in Long Island, N.Y., was a classic case of ineptitude on the part of his bungling murderers. The victim's wife, Ruth Snyder, told police an implausible story from start to finish. She and Albert had returned from a party at 2:30 A.M. that morning, said Ruth. After her husband and daughter retired, a burglar, wearing an Italian-styled moustache, entered the room and hit her on the head. Five hours later she regained consciousness and--gagged and bound--crawled to her daughter's room. Frightened, 9-year-old Lorraine alerted the neighbors, and the police arrived shortly thereafter.

They found Albert Snyder dead in the front bedroom--tied hand and foot--with a picture wire wound tightly around his neck. The right side of his head was bashed in and he had been chloroformed. A revolver was also found on the bed, and 3 live cartridges were on the floor. Although death could have resulted from any of the 3 methods, the assistant county medical examiner, Dr. Howard Neail, said Albert had actually died of asphyxia, strangled by the wire.

The Hunt: The authorities were suspicious of Ruth from the beginning. She was very loosely bound (curiously, she had asked the neighbors to leave her tied up until the police arrived); and Dr. Neail was unable to find any evidence of a blow or injury serious enough to keep her unconscious for 5 hours. Although the house had been ransacked, there was no evidence of forcible entry.

The only thing missing was money from Albert's wallet. Originally, Ruth said that the burglar or burglars--she told conflicting stories--had taken her jewels. However, after the gems were found tucked under her mattress, Ruth suddenly remembered that she had hidden them there for safety.

A search of the house yielded a bloodstained 5-lb. sash weight in a toolbox, and a bloody pillow slip in the laundry hamper. Later, insurance policies on Albert Snyder's life--totaling $90,000 in double indemnity clauses--were found in a safe-deposit box. The box was registered under Mrs. Snyder's maiden name, Ruth Brown.

Most interesting of all to Inspector Arthur Carey was a tiepin, initialed J.G., which was found on the bedroom floor. A canceled check--made out for $200 to H. Judd Gray--was discovered in Ruth's desk. Gray's name was also listed, along with 28 other men, in her address book. On the basis of this circumstantial evidence, Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray were arrested and charged with the murder of Albert Snyder. After undergoing separate interrogation--1st Ruth then Judd--they both confessed. Each blamed the other for the killing.

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