Judy Garland 'Wizard of Oz' Ruby Slippers Theft: Second Man Charged

Second Suspect Charged in Theft of Judy Garland’s Iconic Ruby Slippers from ‘Wizard of Oz’

A second individual has been formally accused in the 2005 case involving the theft of Judy Garland’s iconic ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.” This development was revealed through an indictment that was shared with the public on Sunday, March 17.

In another section, we delve into the intriguing world of Judy Garland and her legacy.

Jerry Hal Saliterman, 76, from Crystal, Minnesota, faces charges of major artwork theft and witness tampering. He appeared in the U.S. District Court in St. Paul on Friday but did not enter a plea.

The stolen slippers, which are decorated with sequins and glass beads, went missing from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, nearly two decades ago. Their location remained unknown until the FBI recovered them in 2018.

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

During his court appearance on Friday, Saliterman, who used a wheelchair and supplemental oxygen, seemed nervous but confirmed understanding the charges when questioned by U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Cowan Wright. However, 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 made public until Sunday.

John Brink, Saliterman’s attorney, stated after Friday’s hearing that his client pleads not guilty and insists he has done nothing wrong. Saliterman, released on his own recognizance, declined to comment outside the courthouse.

Terry Jon Martin, 76, admitted to the theft of the slippers in October, revealing he broke into the museum with the intention of “one last score.” Due to his poor health, he was sentenced in January to time served.

Martin’s lawyer mentioned in court documents that Martin was persuaded by an old associate with mob connections that the slippers’ jewels had to be real to match their insured value of $1 million.

Martin, hoping to sell what he believed were real rubies, later found out from a fence that the jewels were not genuine and decided to dispose of the slippers.

Defense attorney Dane DeKrey described Martin’s theft as an attempt at “one last score,” driven by old habits and the allure of a final big win, despite Martin’s efforts to leave his criminal past behind.

DeKrey also noted that Martin was unaware of the cultural significance of the ruby slippers and had never watched “The Wizard of Oz.”

The recently unsealed documents do not clarify the connection between Martin and Saliterman.

In “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy, played by Garland, uses the ruby 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. In 2017, a man claiming he could recover the slippers contacted the insurer, leading to their recovery in a 2018 FBI sting in Minneapolis. The slippers are valued at approximately $3.5 million.

Michael Shaw, a Hollywood memorabilia collector, had loaned the stolen pair to the museum. The other 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.

Garland, born Frances Gumm in 1922 in Grand Rapids, moved to Los Angeles with her family at the age of 4. She passed away in 1969. The Judy Garland Museum in her hometown boasts the largest collection of Garland and “Wizard of Oz” memorabilia in the world.