Guilty plea expected in ‘Wizard of Oz’ ruby slipper theft

Published 4:43 pm Monday, October 2, 2023

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By Matt Sepic

A Minnesota man charged with stealing a pair of ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz is expected to plead guilty next week.

In May, a federal grand jury indicted Terry Jon Martin, 76, on one count of stealing an object of cultural heritage from a museum.

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Authorities allege that Martin took the slippers from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., in a 2005 smash-and-grab burglary. Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids in 1922.

The FBI recovered the slippers in 2018 while investigating an extortion plot.

The slippers are among four known surviving pairs that Garland wore in the 1939 film and turned out to be the mismatched twin of a set in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

At the time of the theft, they were insured for $1 million, but the FBI said a more recent appraisal values the slippers at $3.5 million.

Martin’s change of plea hearing is set for Oct. 13 in Duluth. It comes just before Martin had been set to face trial on the charge.