The saga of the stolen ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” has ended in the indictment of a Minnesota man.
Terry J. Martin, 76, was charged by a federal grand jury with theft of major artwork, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office North Dakota Division.
The iconic footwear was stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids and recovered by the FBI 13 years later. The identity of the shoe caper was a mystery until the announcement on May 17. The museum posted the press release on its Facebook page, simply writing “Ruby Slippers Update.”
When the Star Tribune newspaper called Martin, he only said, "I gotta go on trial. I don't want to talk to you." Janie Heitz, the executive director of the Judy Garland Museum, told the newspaper that his name didn’t ring any bells to the staff.
Martin allegedly broke into the museum in 2005 through the backdoor and then smashed the glass case where the shoes were stored. In a documentary from 2016, staff explained they didn’t want the shoes to be handled each and every night — possibly causing damage — and put in a vault. The museum’s alarm did not sound and no fingerprints were found.
Finally, more than a decade later, the shoes were found in an undercover operation by the FBI. Worth about $3.5 million, the U.S. Attorney’s office says the pair was one of just four remaining pairs used in the movie.
"They're more than just a pair of shoes, the slippers. They're an enduring symbol of the power of belief," Grand Rapids Police Chief Scott Johnson said in 2018.