A man in Minnesota has pleaded guilty to stealing the red slippers worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz.
Terry Jon Martin, 76, changed his plea to guilty for theft of a major artwork after the famous ruby sequined shoes were brazenly stolen from a museum in 2005.
The slippers were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum, which is located in the actor’s childhood home in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
The iconic slippers were one of four pairs worn by the actor during the filming of The Wizard of Oz, and were insured for $1million. Their current market value is closer to $3.5million, according to investigators.
Investigators finally got a break in the case in 2017 after a person contacted the museum’s insurer claiming to know how to get the shoes returned.
The insurer went to the FBI ‘when it became apparent that those involved were in reality attempting to extort the owners of the slippers,’ FBI Special Agent Christopher Dudley said.
The slippers were finally recovered by the FBI in 2018, over 13 years after the original heist. However, no arrests were made and a mystery still surrounded the theft of the cherished piece of American film history.
‘Our top priority was the safe recovery of the slippers,’ Special Agent Dudley said at the time.
In May 2023, five years after the slippers were recovered, a Minnesota grand jury indicted Martin – a 76-year-old man who lives just 12 miles south of the Judy Garland Museum.
Martin initially entered a not guilty plea when he was arraigned in May. His attorney, Dane DeKrey, said he is in poor health and looking to come clean.
‘I think Terry is facing his own mortality, and I think when people are reaching that point in their life, they cut through the pleasantries and talk turkey,’ DeKrey said.
Martin was seen being taken into court on Friday in a wheelchair and clutching an oxygen tank.
Martin confessed to snatching the slippers while visiting the museum, thinking they contained real rubies. He eventually brought them to a jewelry fence after he realized the red gems were just glass.
He was not taken into custody after the hearing.
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