Female Killers · New York

Woman and married lover murder husband

March 20, 1927
Queens, New York
Ruth Snyder and her lover murder Snyder’s husband, Albert, to have him out of her life and to collect on his insurance policy

Ruth had become disdainful of her husband after he insisted upon hanging a photograph of his deceased fiancé in the Snyder home, named a boat after her, and told Ruth she was “the finest woman I have ever met”; the late fiancé had been dead for 10 years. Ruth eventually began an affair with married corset-maker Henry Judd Gray, and almost immediately started planning her husband’s murder with Gray as her reluctant assistant.

After convincing Albert to buy an insurance policy with a double indemnity clause should he die in a violent attack, Ruth set about trying to kill her husband. According to Gray, at least 7 attempts were made on Albert’s life before the final successful attempt.

On March 20, Gray and Ruth garroted Albert, shoved chloroform-soaked rags in his nostrils, and staged the scene to look like a burglary gone bad. Detectives quickly suspected the grieving widow of the murder, noticing little evidence of a break in, finding allegedly stolen items hidden in the home, and questioning Ruth’s behavior as a supposedly terrified witness of her husband’s murder.

After a sensationalized trail, Ruth was executed and featured in an equally sensationalized front page. Cameras were not (and still aren’t) allowed during an execution but a photographer managed to snap a picture of Ruth strapped into the electric chair by securing a hidden camera to his ankle. Gray was executed shortly after Ruth.

The picture attached is of a wax display demonstrating the murder. The odd cones on the wax versions of Gray and Ruth are to protect the sculptures from dust.

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