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Questions Remain After Man Pleads Guilty To Stealing ‘Wizard Of Oz’ Ruby Slippers


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A person charged within the museum heist of a pair of ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore within the “The Wizard of Oz” pleaded responsible Friday in a deal that might hold him out of jail because of his failing well being, however solely cleared up among the thriller that dates again 18 years.

Terry Jon Martin, 76, pleaded responsible to a single rely of theft of a significant art work. The footwear had been stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum within the late actor’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and recovered by the FBI in 2018.

Nobody was arrested till Martin, who lives close to Grand Rapids, was charged this 12 months. Throughout his change-of-plea listening to in federal courtroom in Duluth, Martin mentioned he used a hammer to smash the glass of the museum door and show case to take the slippers. He mentioned he thought the slippers had actual rubies and that he had hoped to promote the gems. However when a fence instructed him the rubies had been glass, he mentioned he removed the slippers.

A pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in 1939's "The Wizard of Oz."
A pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz.”
by way of Related Press

Martin didn’t say how he removed them or to whom he gave them, leaving the slippers’ whereabouts through the ensuing years a thriller. He did say that the theft had nothing to do with attempting to get insurance coverage cash, as some have speculated.

“Terry has no concept the place they had been and the way they had been recovered,” Martin’s lawyer, Dane DeKrey, mentioned afterward. “His involvement was that two-day interval in 2005.”

Below the plea settlement, DeKrey and federal prosecutor Matt Greenley advisable that Martin not face any time behind bars due to his age and poor well being. Martin, who appeared in courtroom in a wheelchair with supplemental oxygen, has superior continual obstructive pulmonary illness and struggles to breathe, DeKrey mentioned. The proposed sentence would let Martin die at house, the lawyer mentioned.

“He’s principally slowly suffocating to loss of life,” DeKrey mentioned.

Martin, who has a 1988 conviction for receiving stolen items, remained free on his personal recognizance after the listening to. U.S. District Choose Patrick Schiltz, the chief federal decide for Minnesota, ordered a presentence investigation and mentioned he’d probably schedule the sentencing for about 2 1/2 months from now.

Schiltz instructed Martin that he isn’t legally sure by the sentencing advice by the protection and prosecution. In line with DeKrey, the nonbinding federal sentencing tips advisable eight to 10 years in related circumstances.

The U.S. lawyer’s workplace mentioned it will haven’t any remark till after Martin is sentenced.

Margaret Hamilton (left) and Judy Garland in 1939's "The Wizard of Oz."
Margaret Hamilton (left) and Judy Garland in 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz.”
Silver Display screen Assortment by way of Getty Pictures

Garland wore a number of pairs of ruby slippers throughout filming of the basic 1939 musical, however solely 4 genuine pairs are identified to stay. The stolen slippers had been insured for $1 million, however federal prosecutors put the present market worth at about $3.5 million.

The FBI mentioned a person approached the insurer in 2017 and mentioned he may assist get them again. The slippers had been recovered throughout an FBI sting in Minneapolis. The FBI has by no means disclosed the way it tracked down the slippers, which stay within the company’s custody.

The slippers had been on mortgage to the museum from Hollywood memorabilia collector Michael Shaw when Martin stole them. Three different pairs that Garland wore within the film are held by the Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian Museum of American Historical past and a non-public collector.

A number of rewards had been provided through the years in hopes of determining who stole the slippers, which had been key props within the 1939 film. Garland’s character, Dorothy, has to click on the slippers’ heels 3 times and repeat, “There’s no place like house,” to return house to Kansas.

Garland was born Frances Gumm in 1922. She lived in Grand Rapids, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) north of Minneapolis, till she was 4, when her household moved to Los Angeles. She died in 1969.

The Judy Garland Museum, which is in the home the place she lived, says it has the world’s largest assortment of Garland and Wizard of Ozmemorabilia.


This story was corrected to indicate that nonbinding federal sentencing tips have advisable eight to 10 years in related circumstances, not 10 to 12 years.

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