Winnie Ruth Judd — who will be forever remembered as Phoenix's "trunk murderess" — was a hopeless neurotic whose severe mental disorder led her to commit one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th Century.
An attractive 26-year-old doctor's wife at the time, she shot and chopped up two of her friends. Judd's unspeakable acts sent shock waves rippling through the American Southwest.
According to court testimony, the stylish femme fatale, who was estranged from her hubby, Dr. W. C. Judd, had a heated argument with pals Agnes LeRoi, 32, and Hedvig Samuelson, 24, over the affections of a prominent Phoenix businessman, Jack Halloran. Push came to shove at the Phoenix bungalow rented by LeRoi and Samuelson on Oct. 16, 1931 –- and the women were shot dead with a .25-caliber handgun.
Prosecutors said the medical clinic secretary dismembered Samuelson and stuffed the woman's head, torso and lower legs into a black shipping trunk. LeRoi's body was placed, intact, in a second trunk.
Judd escaped to Los Angeles by train two days after the crime, taking the trunks with her! Arriving in California at 7:45 a.m., a baggage agent quarantined the containers after noticing a foul odor and fluids escaping from them.
At first, railroad personnel assumed Judd was carrying contraband, such as a deer carcass, but when they asked her to open the trunks, she insisted she'd forgotten to bring the key and disappeared in L.A.
It wasn't long before police discovered the grisly cargo and launched a manhunt for the coldhearted villainess. Judd turned herself in at, of all things, a funeral home on Oct. 23.
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She was sentenced to the gallows, but the Arizona governor granted her a stay for a sanity hearing –- setting off a media circus that fascinated the world.
Judd clapped, laughed, yelled, tugged at her clothes and hair, screamed the jurors were gangsters and threatened to throw herself out the courthouse window.
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She was resentenced to life in a mental institution, but escaped seven times before she was tried again and sent to lock-up for life.
Her sentence was commuted in 1971, and she relocated to California, where she died in 1998 at the age of 93.
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