Ruth May <I>Brown</I> Snyder


Ruth May Brown Snyder

Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 12 Jan 1928 (aged 32)
Ossining, Westchester County, New York, USA
Burial Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA
Plot Arbutus, Section 119, Lot 16528
Memorial ID 963 View Source
Suggest Edits

Criminal. Ruth Snyder received notoriety as an early 20th century American, who was convicted of the murder of her husband. The case had heavy media coverage making the headlines in the nation's newspapers. She was a tall, blue-eyed blond married woman, who was the mother of a young daughter. Snyder became romantically involved in 1925 with a short, bespectacled salesman named Henry Judd Gray; he was married with a young daughter. She claimed her marriage was loveless as her husband was still in love with a woman who had died years before, thus she was planning to murder him. By 1927 her adulterous affair had reached the level that she was able to coerce Gray to help murder her husband, Albert, an art editor for the magazine, “Motor Boating.” After she failed in at least a half-a-dozen attempts to murder her husband, Gray became involved. With a forged signature, she had purchased a hefty insurance policy on her husband. Gray went to the Snyder home in the wee hours of the morning where she was waiting for him. On March 20, 1927 the couple attacked her sleeping husband, putting a rope around his neck to hold him still while stuffing chloroform-soaked rags up his nose, and then hitting the victim in the head with a window weight; Snyder was killed by suffocation. The window weight was called a dumbbell during the trial, hence the headlines of the “Dumbbell Murder,” or was it because their plan was dumb? The couple poorly staged a burglary, which the police soon realized, with a little investigation, did not happen; at that point, the couple were arrested for first degree murder. The trial, which became a carnival-like event, began with many noted celebrities attending and souvenirs sold on the Queens County Courthouse steps. The newspapers labeled them “The Granite Woman and the Putty Man.” After Gray confessed, the lovers turned on each other during the trial, contending the other was responsible for actually killing Albert Snyder. The jury took only 98 minutes before returning with a verdict of "guilty". Now convicted, they were sentenced to death in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison. On January 12, 1928 Snyder's fate would come first at 11:06 PM, while blindfolded and strapped into the electric chair. She was the first woman to be executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison since 1899. With a hidden camera strapped to a “Chicago Tribune” reporter's ankle, a fuzzy photograph was taken as she was actually being executed. The photograph was published in all major newspapers documenting the times of the executions in the caption. This camera is on exhibition in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. At 11:14 PM Henry Judd Gray was executed in the electric chair. With a smile, he said his wife had sent him a letter saying she had forgiven him. In 1944, the highly successful and critically acclaimed movie “Double Indemnity,” featuring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, was released. The plot of the movie was based on the Ruth Brown Snyder and Henry Judd Gray murder case. In 2007, the American Film Institute listed “Double Indemnity” as the 29th best movie on their list of the top 100 American movies of all time, thus keeping their tragedy alive. Over the years, there have been several other successful movies and novels based on the case. The Snyder's daughter, Lorraine, was nine at the time of her father's murder. As an orphan, she was sent to live with her maternal grandmother, who was awarded guardianship after a legal battle with the murdered father's brother Warren Schneider. The insurance policy was declared invalid in 1930.

Bio by: Memorial Flower

Family Members



See more Snyder or Brown memorials in:


How famous was Ruth May Brown Snyder?

Current rating:

98 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 963
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Ruth May Brown Snyder (27 Mar 1895–12 Jan 1928), Find a Grave Memorial ID 963, citing Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .