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Ruth Snyder: Cheating Wife Got the Chair (FPD CASE VAULT)

Ruth Snyder: Cheating Wife Got the Chair
Source: Bettmann/CORBIS

Ruth Snyder, a suburban housewife who murdered her husband on Long Island, wears a fur coat.

Apr. 19 2024, Published 2:02 p.m. ET

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If it wasn't for an illicit horrifying photo secretly snapped at her Jan. 12, 1928, execution, Ruth Snyder would have gone down in history as just another woman who bungled the murder of her husband for the insurance money.

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Ruth Snyder: Cheating Wife Got the Chair
Source: Tom Howard/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

After murdering her hubby, Snyder was bound, gagged and tied up by her lover as part of their plan to make the killing look like a robbery. Ironically, she was bound and gagged for her execution as well.

Sitting in the front row of witnesses, photographer Thomas Howard took a picture with a camera strapped to his ankle just when the switch was pulled on Snyder as she sat in the electric chair at New York's notorious Sing Sing Prison. The next day, the shocking photo covered the entire front page of the New York Daily News.

The crime leading to Snyder's execution was one of total incompetence. She had an affair with corset salesman Judd Gray, and together they plotted to kill her husband, Albert Snyder, to cash in on his $90,000 double indemnity insurance policy.

On March 20, 1927, cops arrived at the Snyders' Long Island home to find Ruth bound and gagged, and her husband tied and murdered in a bedroom, strangled with picture wire wound around his neck. Ruth claimed a burglar hit her and she was unconscious for five hours.

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Ruth Snyder: Cheating Wife Got the Chair
Source: AP

Albert Snyder was killed with the wire garrote for a $90,000 insurance pay day

But Ruth was only loosely tied and doctors found no evidence of a head injury that would have knocked her out for five hours. However, they did find jewelry and other items she claimed were missing hidden around the house, including a tie clip with the initials "J.G." and a $200 check made out to "H. Judd Gray."

Ruth and Gray separately confessed and accused the other of the murder. They were found guilty and both were executed at Sing Sing.


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