The case of the missing The Wizard of Oz ruby slippers has been solved.
Terry Martin has pled guilty to one count of theft of major artwork, reports ABC News. The Minnesota man entered his plea on Friday (Oct. 13)—more than 18 years after committing the crime.
Martin, 76, admitted to a federal judge that he broke into the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN, in August of 2005 using a small sledgehammer. Then, he smashed open the glass casing around the iconic slippers and hid them in a trailer. Before stealing the slippers, Martin believed they were made of real rubies. When he realized they were made of glass, he discarded them. The FBI managed to recover them in 2018.
According to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office in North Dakota, authorities filed the original indictment on May 16, 2023. The release notes that the ruby slippers were one of four pairs that Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz. The slippers are considered one of the most recognizable pieces of cinema memorabilia, and they’re worth millions.
“At the time of the theft, the slippers were insured for $1 million, but current fair market appraisal values the slippers at $3.5 million,” reads the release.
Hollywood memorabilia collector Michael Shaw was loaning the slippers to the museum. The Smithsonian Museum, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and an unnamed private collector currently own the other three pairs.
Minnesota Man Guilty of Stealing ‘Wizard of Oz’ Slippers Will Soon Face Sentencing
ABC News writes that both Martin’s lawyer, Dane DeKrey, and Federal Prosecutor Matt Greenley asked that Martin not face jail time. Martin is suffering from advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and relies on a wheelchair and supplemental oxygen. DeKrey shared that the defendant is “basically slowly suffocating to death.” Under a recommended sentence, Martin would be able to die at home.
Following the hearing, U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz allowed Martin to remain free on his own recognizance. Sentencing will take place after a presentence investigation. It is likely Martin will return to court for sentencing in early 2024.
The Attorney’s Office has not commented on the case and has no obligation to follow DeKrey and Greenley’s recommendations. The standing federal guidelines suggest that Martin spend eight to ten years behind bars. However, those guidelines are nonbinding.
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