A second man is charged in connection with 2005 theft of ruby slippers worn in 'The Wizard of Oz'

Second Suspect Charged in 2005 Heist of Iconic ‘Wizard of Oz’ Ruby Slippers

In St. Paul, Minnesota, a new development has emerged in the case of the stolen ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz.” A second individual has been charged related to the 2005 theft, as revealed by an indictment that was made public on Sunday.

Jerry Hal Saliterman, a 76-year-old resident of Crystal, Minnesota, faces charges of stealing a major artwork and witness tampering. At his initial court appearance in the U.S. District Court in St. Paul on Friday, Saliterman did not enter a plea.

The iconic slippers, known for their sequins and glass beads, were taken from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, nearly two decades ago. Their location was unknown until the FBI recovered them in 2018.

According to the indictment, from August 2005 to July 2018, Saliterman was involved in the concealment and disposal of the slippers, knowing they were stolen. He is accused of threatening to release a compromising tape of a woman to silence her about the slippers.

During his court appearance on Friday, Saliterman, who used a wheelchair and supplemental oxygen, appeared nervous but confirmed his understanding of the charges. He did not comment on the allegations.

The details of the case were not discussed openly in court. The magistrate ordered the indictment to be unsealed on Friday, but it was not available to the public until Sunday.

Saliterman’s lawyer, John Brink, stated after the hearing that his client pleads not guilty and insists he has done nothing wrong. Saliterman, released on his own recognizance, chose not to comment to the press.

The individual who admitted to the actual theft, Terry Jon Martin, also 76, pleaded guilty to theft of a major artwork in October. He recounted using a hammer to break into the museum, an act described by his lawyer as an attempt at “one last score.” Due to his poor health, Martin was sentenced to time served in January.

Martin’s lawyer mentioned that Martin was misled into believing the slippers’ rubies were real and could justify their $1 million insured value. However, upon learning the rubies were not real, Martin disposed of the slippers.

Defense attorney Dane DeKrey highlighted Martin’s struggle with his past criminal tendencies and his unawareness of the slippers’ cultural significance, noting Martin had never seen “The Wizard of Oz.”

The connection between Martin and Saliterman remains unclear from the documents released on Sunday.

In “The Wizard of Oz,” Garland’s character, Dorothy, uses the slippers to return home by clicking her heels three times and saying, “There’s no place like home.” Only four authentic pairs of these slippers exist today.

The FBI has not disclosed how it located the slippers, which were recovered in a sting operation in Minneapolis in 2018. The slippers, valued at about $3.5 million, were initially loaned to the museum by Hollywood memorabilia collector Michael Shaw. They are now with an auction house, set to be sold.

Judy Garland, born Frances Gumm in 1922, lived in Grand Rapids until she was four before moving to Los Angeles with her family. She passed away in 1969. The Judy Garland Museum boasts the world’s largest collection of Garland and “Wizard of Oz” memorabilia.