The Snyder-Gray Murder Case Part 2

About the Snyder-Gray murder case where wife Ruth Snyder hired Judd Gray to kill her husband for insurance money, history of the crime, biography of accused.


The Accused: On the surface, Ruth Brown Snyder was a typical suburban housewife of the jazz era. She wore her blond hair in a fashionable bob, danced and played bridge while her 44-year-old husband stayed home. In general, she acted the role of a giddy, slightly overage (32) flapper. The "real" Ruth Snyder was made of stronger--albeit not always admirable--fiber. Born in poverty, she was only 13 when she took a job as a night telephone operator so she could study shorthand and bookkeeping during the day. Ruth was ambitious, frustrated, and a voracious reader of trashy love stories, wherein Cinderella finally married the boss.

In 1915, Ruth did just that; she married her employer, Albert Snyder, an editor of Motor Boating magazine. However, they didn't live "happily ever after." Some of Ruth's antagonism toward the man she called "the old crab" was probably justified. For example, Albert hung a picture of his ex-fiancee, Jessie Guishard, on the wall of their 1st home, and also named his boat after her. Jessie, whom Albert described to Ruth as "the finest woman I have ever met," had been dead for 10 years.

Bored and disillusioned with her dull marriage, Ruth lived a fantasy life until June, 1925, when she met 33-year-old Judd Gray on a blind date. The timid, weak-willed Gray was a salesman for the Bien Jolie Corset Company. Their shoddy affair continued for 18 months. They usually met at the Waldorf-Astoria. Ruth would sometimes leave little Lorraine in the lobby while she and Judd enjoyed a "matinee" in his hotel room. Finally, in 1926, Albert suddenly became suspiciously accident-prone. It was never verified in court, but Judd claimed Ruth had made 7 previous attempts to drown, poison, or gas her husband.

Although both later claimed the other was the dominant partner, Judd's nickname of "Momma" or "Mommie" for Ruth would seem to indicate that she was the real leader in their relationship. Ruth wasn't a beauty, but she exuded animal magnetism. During her trial, she received 164 marriage proposals.

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