A second man is charged in connection with the 2005 theft of ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz"

Second Suspect Charged in 2005 Theft of Iconic Ruby Slippers from ‘The Wizard of Oz’

A new individual has been implicated in the theft of Judy Garland’s iconic ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” revealed by an indictment that came to light on Sunday.

Jerry Hal Saliterman, 76, from Crystal, faces charges for stealing a significant piece of art and for tampering with a witness. During his initial court appearance on Friday, he did not submit a plea.

The slippers, which sparkle with sequins and glass beads, were taken nearly two decades ago from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Garland’s birthplace. Their location was a mystery until the FBI found them in 2018.

According to the indictment, between August 2005 and July 2018, Saliterman was involved in hiding and getting rid of the “ruby slippers,” knowing they were stolen. He also threatened to expose a sex tape of a woman and ruin her if she spoke about the slippers.

During his court appearance on Friday, Saliterman, who used a wheelchair and supplemental oxygen, seemed nervous. He only answered “yes” to understanding the charges when asked by U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Cowan Wright, without commenting on the allegations.

The details of the case remained sealed until Sunday when the court documents were made public. Saliterman’s lawyer, John Brink, stated after the hearing that Saliterman maintains his innocence. Saliterman himself chose not to comment when approached by The Associated Press.

Terry Jon Martin, 76, admitted to the theft of the slippers in October, describing how he broke into the museum with a hammer. His lawyer mentioned Martin was attempting “one last score” after deciding to leave his criminal past behind. Due to his poor health, he was sentenced to time served in January.

Martin’s attorney revealed in court documents that Martin was persuaded to steal the slippers by an old associate with mob connections, who believed the shoes’ jewels justified their $1 million insured value.

Martin had hoped to sell the supposed real rubies from the slippers but was informed by a fence that the jewels were not real, leading him to dispose of the slippers. Despite his criminal past, Martin was enticed by the idea of a “final score,” even though he was unaware of the slippers’ cultural significance and had never seen “The Wizard of Oz.”

The connection between Martin and Saliterman is not clarified in the recently revealed documents.

In “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy, played by Garland, clicks her ruby slippers together three times, wishing to return home to Kansas. Only four authentic pairs of these slippers remain.

The FBI has not disclosed how they located the slippers, only mentioning that a man approached the insurer in 2017 offering recovery information for a price higher than the $200,000 reward. The slippers were eventually recovered in an FBI operation in Minneapolis in 2018, with their market value estimated at about $3.5 million.

Michael Shaw, a Hollywood memorabilia collector, had lent the stolen pair to the museum. The remaining pairs are with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and a private collector. The stolen slippers were returned to Shaw and are now with an auction house set to sell them.

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, home to the largest collection of Garland and “Wizard of Oz” memorabilia, is located in her childhood home.