“The Granite Woman and the Putty Man”
Ruth Snyder W,IS a New York housewife in the 1920s. A former telephonist, she had married Albert Schneider who changed his name to Snyder at her insistence. She was unhappily married but her life changed in 1925 when she was 30 and met Henry Judd Gray, a corset salesman, 13 years older than her. They began an affair and spent much of their time in hotel rooms having sex. Gray was a weak character who referred to his lover as “Momsie”.
In 1926 Snyder took out three insurance policies, worth $48,000, on her husband’s life. She then decided that she would have to kill him and indeed Albert Snyder had some near escapes: twice he awoke to find the bedroom full of gas and on several occasions he was poisoned by his wife. However, he survived them all. In February 1927 Gray finally agreed to help his lover dispose of her husband.
It was the eighth attempt that finally did for Albert Snyder, on 20 March 1927. Albert was asleep in his bedroom when the couple crept in and Ruth hit him with a heavy sash weight. Albert was stunned and called out for his wife to help him. She responded by hitting him again before pushing a chloroform-soaked cloth onto his nose before the pair garrotted him with picture wire. Then Gray tied up his girlfriend so she could say that a burglar had attacked her.
Queens Village, New York, USA
Sunday 20 March 1927
The police found Gray’s name in Sndyer’s address book and when they questioned her, they told her that Gray had confessed to murder. She then admitted murder but said that the plot had been all Gray’s idea. He, too, confessed but blamed her. The media had a field day, calling the couple “The Granite Woman and the Putty Man”. The jury found both defendants guilty of first-degree murder. On 13 May 1927, the judge sentenced both to be executed. They went to the electric chair at Sing Sing on 12 January 1928. Just as Snyder was about to die, Tom Howard, a Chicago Tribune photographer working in cooperation with the Tribune-owned New York Daily News took a picture with a camera he had surreptitiously strapped to his leg.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The novel Double Indemnity by James M. Cain was inspired by the Snyder-Gray story.