Within four minutes of each other, Ruth May Snyder, 32, and her lover Henry Judd Gray, 35, went to the electric chair at New York’s Sing Sing Prison on Thursday, JANUARY 12th, 1928. Their execution was the culmination of a torrid affair that began in 1925 and ended in murder.
Both Were dissatisfied with their marriages, and Ruth schemed to do something about it. Dominating her lover, she persuaded him to kill her 48-year-old husband, Albert Snyder. She had already made several unsuccessful attempts herself, having first insured Albert’s life for nearly $100,000. But he had survived poisoning and “accidenral” gassing, so Ruth decided to have Gray fix him for good.
To this end the pair acquired their murder weapons: chloroform, a sash-weight and a length of picture-wire. Gray, however, was all along a reluctant killer. Ruth was the driving force, and she had to apply a lot of pressure, exploiting his infatuation with her to win him over.
The Snyders were out at a bridge party on Sunday, March 20th, 1927, when Gray sneaked into their home and hid to await their return. When they arrived Albert, half-drunk, went to bed.
Ruth summoned Gray out of hiding, and they crept up to her husband as he slept. Gray raised the sash-weight and brought it down on the victim’s head. Snyder tried to struggle up, shouting for Ruth. She responded by giving him another biff with the sash-weight. Then as he continued to struggle, the couple finished him off with the chloroform and the picture-wire.
Police were called a few hours later when Ruth was discovered bound and gagged, her husband murdered in his bed. She claimed that an intruder had attacked her, but detectives didn’t believe her.
Finding Gray’s name in her address book, they sprang a trap and she fell into it. They told her that Gray had been arrested and had confessed, and Ruth admitted scheming to kill her husband, but insisted she had struck no blows.
Gray told the investigators, “She told me what to do and I just did it. She had this power over me.”
Even in her condemned cell Ruth continued to exert a strange fascination, receiving more than 160 offers of marriage from men apparently wanting to live dangerously. Her last words were not addressed to them, but they might as well have been: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!”