When: Sunday, March 20th 1927
- Henry Judd Gray: Suspect
- Ruth Snider: Victims Wife
- Albert Snyder: Victim
- Lorraine Snyder: Daughter, 9 years old.
- George Vincent McLaughlin: New York City Police Commissioner
More information about the case
Hello everyone, and welcome to Forgotten True Crime by Okie Investigations, the True Crime Podcast where we tell the stories of crimes that happened long ago. If you are a true crime fan, make sure you subscribe to the podcast. That way, when we have new episodes, you will be the first to know. Also, check us out on our Facebook page Okie Investigations and visit our blog TrueCrime.Blog where we post many cool things we found for each episode. This episode, “The Intruder,” has a lot of exciting stuff for you to dig into. Make sure you go there and check it out. You can also follow me on Facebook under Trevor Shelby. The link is in the description below. You can see what trouble I’ve been getting into and what I’m currently working on.
Parts of this story may contain opinions and speculations and should be taken as such. These stories depict violent crimes of all types and may be a trigger for some listeners. Listener discretion is advised.
Welcome everyone to the show. It’s good to be here. We are in the month of February, the month of love! We decided to start an annual event called “Be Mine.” This will feature true crime stories of love and loss. Many of these stories do not feature a happily ever after, but rather full of misery forevermore.
This is also a very unique case. I won’t give anything away here before we tell the story, but just know that I really enjoyed researching this story. We will talk more about its uniqueness a little while later. But, for now, sit back and enjoy the story of “The Intruder.”
Ruth Brown was born in New York in 1895. She was a focused young woman, wanting to succeed in life. Ruth decided that it would be best for her to drop out of school in the eighth grade and take a job at the telephone company instead. Discovering that not all jobs would lead her to the success that she was looking for, she decided to focus on learning shorthand and typing so that she could get a job in an office somewhere. You see, for Ruth, Success was not all about where you were in your job or how much you were making. It was about finding true love and starting a family.
So in 1914, at 19 years old, Ruth was able to secure a job at Motor Boating magazine. That is where she met a handsome man named Albert Snyder. He was 32 years old and very focused on his career. That was until he met Ruth because, after that chance meeting, he started to focus on her. Even though he was older, Ruth didn’t seem to mind at all. Albert was a gentleman, and soon, they were spending all of their time together. In 1915 they decided to get married. Three years later, their daughter Lorraine was born.
Albert was very focused on his job. He was successful and provided well for his family. They bought a beautiful home in Queens, New York. But this didn’t mean he was the best spouse in town either. Albert had his own idea of what success was, and much of it involved his job and making money. By some reports, people found Albert challenging to work with because he was a no-nonsince person. But he loved his family and did his best to provide for them.
On March 20th, 1927, Albert and Ruth attended a party. Albert was not the party type and didn’t really want to be there. The party was something that was more Ruth’s style. They left the party late into the night and arrived home at about 1:30 in the morning. Hours later, little Lorraine Snyder came fleeing from their home. She ran to a neighbors house, telling them that someone had attacked their family.
After altering the Police, Neighbor, Louis Mailhauser ran to the Snyder residence. The front door was open, and he went inside. There he found Mrs. Snyder at the foot of the stairs. Her legs were bound with rope, and she struggled to stay conscious. Mr. Mailhauser worked to free her from the bindings and then carried her to the nearby bedroom. But there, covered in a blanket, he found Albert Snyder dead. Albert was face down on the bed. A pistol was lying beside him.
It didn’t take long for the Police to arrive at the crime scene. What they found was total chaos. Upon entering the home, they found that it had been trashed. Ruth was downstairs, away from her husband, and Mr. Mailhauser comforted her. They first talked to Mr. Mailhauser, who told them what he knew of what happened, how their little girl came running to their home, and how he ran over to see what was going on.
The New York City Police Commissioner George Vincent McLaughlin took a particular interest in this case. He arrived at the Murder Scene a little after the Police did, and he began to interview Ruth. This is her exact statement, word for word, as recorded by the Daily News.
“We had been to a party at the home if Mr. and Mrs. William Fidgeon, 8935 Hollis Court blvd, Queens. We had a great time, and we drank quite a bit. we got home about 1:30 in the morning. I went upstairs to my room while Albert drove the car to the back. The front door was open for about five minutes.”
“We have separate rooms. Some little time after I went to bed, I got up. I thought I heard Loraine calling. Lorraine is our daughter. She’s 9. As I stepped out of my room and went toward her room, I passed another room, the room where my Mother stays when she is with us. A man came out of that room and hit me on the head. I believe that I heard him call to someone downstairs down below.”
“It was about 8 o’clock when I awoke. I was stiff and strained. Bound and gagged. I had a hard time taking the ropes off my hands. Then I took the gag out of my mouth and tried to scream.”
After she started screaming, that is when little Lorraine was woken up and came out of her room. She not only found her Mother tied up and on the floor, but she found her father dead in bed. That is when she fled from the home, not knowing if the attackers were still in the home, and ran to Mr. Mailhauser’s house.
Ruth was able to give a vague description of the man who attacked her. He had a long black mustache, a black slouch hat and spoke broken English. She never saw the other man.
The Commissioner then went to look at the body of Albert Snyder. It was not a pretty scene. The mattress was soaked with blood. His head looked like it had been beaten with something heavy, and picture wire was used to strangle him. It was pulled so tight it had cut into his throat. It was not a pleasant scene. His pockets were pulled inside out as if someone had searched them.
The Commissioner went back to Ruth and asked if Mr. Snyder had any money on him. She thought about it and told the Commissioner that her husband withdrew over a hundred dollars, and he would have had that on him.
Getting the idea that this was a robbery gone wrong, the Commissioner led Ruth around the home. He had her identify valuables that were missing from the house. She very quickly noticed some jewels, a bracelet, and three rings were missing from her jewelry box. She was also missing a costly fur coat.
One of the things that bothered the Commissioner about the crime scene was that he believed the robber was not a professional. Yes, it appeared that he had gone for the jewelry, something small and hard to track. But they also pulled out all the drawers in the kitchen, which would be very loud and would have little to no profit.
The Commissioner had more questions for Ruth and her Daughter, but they needed to move the body of Alber Snyder. Instead of having them at the home when this was performed, they decided to finish the interview at the police station. As they went to leave, reporters had already caught wind of what was going on and had also arrived at the home. They asked if Ruth was under arrest and the Commissioner reassured them that she was coming for questioning only and that she was not a suspect. He also described the man Ruth saw attack her so that it would be reported in the papers and the community could be on the lookout.
When Ruth and Lorraine arrived at the police station, they separated them to give their official statements to the Detectives. By the time they were both done, the Commissioner had received a curious report about the crime scene. All of the things that Ruth had noticed were missing were found while the Police searched the home, were found. The curious part was where the items were found, under Ruth’s mattress. It was at this point the Commissioner started seeing Ruth in a new light.
Before they questioned Ruth about this, they first went to talk to 9-year-old Lorraine. They asked her if her parents ever fought. She told them that they fought all the time.
Commissioner McLaughlin let his Detectives know that they should start looking into the possibility that Mrs. Ruth Snyder might have something to do with her husband’s death. So they started searching the home with this in mind. He also didn’t want them to zero on her as a suspect without checking their leads. So he also sent Detectives to Mr. and Mrs. William Fidgeon’s house to see what they knew. They are the ones who held the party that the Snyders were at the night of the murder. They might have more insight into what may have happened.
When the Detectives arrived at the Fidgeon residence, they questioned them both to see what happened at that party. Mr. Fidgeon told the detectives that it was a pretty uneventful night. They played cards and held these parties regularly. Mrs. Fidgeon went to school with Ruth, and they were very close friends. Albert was not a fan of their parties, and it was well known that he didn’t really want to be there, but Ruth always drug him along. Albert got into an altercation with Mrs. Fidgeons brother, Mr. George Hough. Albert was sore after losing some money, and he and George had to be pulled apart when they started arguing. It didn’t come to blows, but it almost did.
When asked where George was last night after the party, Mr. Fidgeon quickly told the officers that he would have gone straight to his hotel room after the party because it was so late. The party broke up a little after 1AM, so he should have got there a little after that time.
The Detectives pretty much ruled out the Fidgeon’s as suspects. They didn’t seem to have a grudge against the Snyders, and if they were attacked shortly after getting home, the Fidgeon’s were still seeing lingering guests at their home, so they would not have had the opportunity.
The Detectives then went down to the Hotel where George Hough was staying, and he also stated that he went straight to his hotel room after the party, and they were able to confirm his late arrival to the Hotel with the hotel staff. So, even though it seemed like he might have a motive, George didn’t commit the murder. This led to a dead-end to this part of the investigation.
Back at the Snyder’s home, the detectives who were still searching the home found two more pieces of potential evidence. The first was near where Mr. Snyder was murdered. It was a small pin with the initials J.G. on the back. The pin was thought to belong to Mrs. Snyder, and they thought it was curious that she would have something this personal with another person’s initials, that was not her husband’s, on the back of it. They then went into the basement of the home. In a well-hidden spot, they also found an address book. The book contained the names and addresses of 27 men inside. These were all taken to the police station to be gone over.
The corner also collected the body of Mr. Albert Snyder. The initial investigation at the crime scene left a lot of questions. They didn’t know if he was killed by strangulation or due to the major blows to his head.
At the station, one of the Detectives went over the address book with an idea in mind. If this were Ruth’s personal address book, and it contained the names of men that she might be seeing on the side, they thought that the initials on the pin might match someone in that book. The initials on the pin were J.G., and there was one name in the book that fit. His name was Judd Gray.
The Detectives put two and two together, and they and the Commissioner went back in to question Ruth Snyder. This time, they were going to go a lot harder on her.
The first thing they asked was what kind of relationship she had with her husband. Ruth explained that she was a bit of a night owl and her husband was just the opposite. He had a boat, and he enjoyed taking it out during the day. It was why he was always so tan. They asked about the fighting, and at first, she tried to deny it, but they told her that her own daughter told them about the fighting. So, she owned up to it. They were always at odds, it seemed. So it caused a lot of fights in their household.
They then asked about the missing items from the robbery. They asked her if she knew if they were missing or not. She said they were, so they told her where they found them, under her mattress. Ruth tried to play this off. She told the detectives that she was so forgetful and it was a mistake. She did put them under there.
The last thing they asked was… Who is Judd Gray? Ruth almost fainted at this question. She suddenly sat up and looked very worried. The Detectives held back from asking anything and just looked hard at her. You see, when someone is being questioned, silence is almost unbearable. A suspect will continue to talk to break that silence. Ruth did just this and what she said turned this whole investigation around.
Ruth looked up at the Detectives and quietly asked, “Did he confess?” One of the Detectives responded, “Yes, he did.” Then Ruth started to sob, and she told the entire story.
She told them that she had known Gray for almost 2 years. They had become more than just friends, and for most of their relationship, they had seen each other behind her husband’s back. They had talked about killing her husband several times. Poison was the preferred method, but they couldn’t quite pull it off. So, on the night of the murder, Gray had laid in wait for them to arrive home. After Albert had fallen asleep, Ruth let Albert into the house. They had already decided that they would kill Albert and make it look like a robbery. Gray took an heavy weight and then went upstairs. He struck Albert Snyder on top of his head twice. He then used the picture wire to finish the job.
According to Ruth, besides letting him into the home, she had no more to do with her husbands’ death. It was all Gray’s doing.
They then asked about the pin that they had found on the floor. Ruth was not happy to see it. She told them about her husband’s first love. Jessie Guichard. She had given Albert that pin shorty before she died. He held on to it ever since. No woman was ever as good as Jessie. She was his first love. Although their assumption helped lead them to the truth, it was funny that it was only by chance.
Judd Gray was staying at a hotel in Syracuse, New York. Police arrived and found him in his room. They arrested him on the spot and charged him with murder. Judd flat out denied the allegations against him. When they searched his room, they found a metal bar and ripped clothing, but nothing that actually linked him to the murder.
They hauled Judd in for questioning, and they told him that Ruth had already confessed to the crime. They already knew that he had done the deed. But Gray insisted that there was no way he had anything to do with it, and he signed an affidavit to that effect. We have a copy of that affidavit.
“I am 34 years old. I will be 35 years of age on July 8th 1927. I am married. I live with my wife, Mrs. Isabella Gray. I have one daughter, Jane 10 years old. We live in East Orange, N.J. I was born in Cortland, N.Y.”
“My Father is dead. My Mother resides at West Orange N.J. About March 7th I left my home on my business trip through New York State.”
“I have known Albert Snyders wife, whos name is Ruth Brown Snyder, for the past two years. I was introduced to her in either May or June of 1925 by Harry Polsom. He admitted that he picked her up through a flirtation in the restaurant. From that time on I became friendly with her.”
“I have talked with the Mother and the daughter, but I have never met or talked to Albert Snyder. I swear that I have not seen or talked with Ruth Snyder in person since about the fourth week in February in 1927, or the first week in March of the same year. The last time that I talked with Mrs. Ruth Snyder was on Thursday night, March 17, from the Hotel Seneca at Rochester.”
“”I stopped there Wednesday night, March 16, and Thursday night, March 17. I checked out of the Hotel on Friday, March 18, between 5 and 6pm., and Arrived at Syracuse at 8:15.”
“I went directly to the Hotel Onondaga. I stayed there from Friday night until about 2AM on March 21, when I was brought into the police headquarters for investigation. The officer found the gray rolled, a pair of rubber gloves, an Iron pitch bar, and a pair of brown oxford shoes, which were in my hotel room. I had taken the same out of my trunk, which I had sent to the Syracuse Trunk Company, Saturday morning, March 19th, to have repaired.”
“Since Knowing Mrs. Snyder, I have visited her on a number of different occasions. The only time that she ever accompanied me was on an automobile trip. We were gone about a week through New York State. She left the daughter with her Mother. I swear that I know nothing about who committed the murder and swear that I had no part in the murder in any shape or form.”
The Police held both of them overnight. The papers went crazy over the story and reported on everything that came out as it happened. The continued press brought more and more evidence out into the public eye. A man who worked at a nearby hotel told officers that he had letters for Mr. Gray from Ruth. She would mail them to the Hotel so that Mrs. gray would never see them. When Detectives retrieved the mail and read it, it gave them more ammunition. The letters were from Mrs. Snyder. She was telling Gray that she was so excited about something they believed that it was her husband’s murder that they would be committing soon. Ruth signed each letter with “Love, Your Mommy.” This was leaked to the press, and they had a field day with it. Some papers would now only call Ruth “Gray’s Mommie” from this point on, poking fun at the situation.
Both Ruth and Gray were charged with the murder of Albert Snyder. But on March 22nd, 1927, they both plead not guilty, sighting the other as the actual murderer. Ruth’s attorney believed that she would be acquitted when they heard the entire story. She could not be found guilty of a murder she didn’t commit. Gray’s attorney stated that his client didn’t commit the murder and that, even though he was there, it was Ruth who did the killing.
Both Ruth and Gray were tried together. They each accused the other of actually killing Mr. Albert Snyder. The Procession argued that they both planned it. They used the letters as evidence, the confessions, and the autopsy all as evidence. According to Gray, they both hit Albert over the head with the heavy weight. When Gray did it, Albert tried to get up. That was when Ruth took the weight and also hit Albert over the head. They then strangled him with the picture wire. According to the corner, when they tried to strangle Albert, he was already dead. The blows to the head are what killed him.
At the trial, Ruth tried to convince the jury that she had no hand in her husband’s murder. That Gray did it on his own. She said that Gray forced her to do things like upping Alberts life insurance from 15 thousand to 25 thousand. When Gray attacked her husband, she tried to stop him, but Gray shoved her to the ground, and by the time she was able to get up, he was finished, and Albert was dead.
Gray testified that they both planned the murder and that she helped, so much so, it was her actions that killed Albert. She had used him because she knew that he was in love with her. She tricked him into killing her husband and that the act was entirely her fault. He even reenacted the murder for the jury so that they would know what actually happened.
When the case went to the jury, they deliberated for only 98 minutes. When they came back, they announced their verdict, they found that Judd Gray and Ruth Snyder were guilty of murder in the first degree. They fixed death as their sentence.
On January 12th, 1928, both Judd and Ruth would be executed back to back. They had Judd go first. When they came for him, he had just read a letter from his wife, forgiving him for what he had done. This brought him much peace. He walked into the chamber and spent his last words, warning others of doing wrong. He then sat down and was put to death. Ruth would be next. She was led in by guards and allowed to speak. It was noted that she was acting erratically and had seemed to of aged quite a bit since the trial. She stated that she was too young to die and asked God to forgive them because they knew not what they were doing to her. She then prayed, and they began the procedure, and she was dead after three whole minutes on the chair.
A reporter for the Daily News had snuck a small camera into the death chamber. He took the first-ever picture of electrocution. The picture of Ruth Snyder’s last moments is forever captured on film. It soon became the most remarkable execution photos in Criminal Justice History.
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