Winnie Ruth Judd — The Infamous Trunk Murderess | Part One
You may have heard of Winnie Ruth Judd, but have you heard the full story?
Winnie Ruth Judd’s trunks took the entire nation by storm in 1931. It was a convenient distraction from the Great Depression. Tabloids shamelessly printed inaccurate or made-up information about the case. How could a woman cut up and murder two women?
But did she?
After researching this case, I made the ultimate decision to split this article into two parts. Most sources out there are pretty sparse on details and don’t present all the evidence as much as they do the Clifnotes. It was going to take me a few more days to finish the article as a whole, and even longer because I just got a job, so I’m splitting it in half!
This isn’t a story just about two women killed and put in trunks. It’s a story about coverups and shameless corruption during the Great Depression. It is a story about doing what’s right when you know you’re going to go down for it, relentless perseverance, and optimism.
And this is a story about how even in the most suspicious circumstances, someone may be innocent.
Most times, this story starts at the train station. Instead, I want to start it a bit earlier in the day — when Violet Judd had a knock on her door and opened it to see her tenant, Winnie Ruth Judd, or “Ruthie.”
Ruthie’s left hand was bandaged and she seemed nervous. Immediately, Violet knew something was wrong and asked what the matter was. Ruth explained that she burnt her hand ironing and she was fine, but could Mr. Grimm help her with her luggage? She was going on the night train to see her husband in Los Angeles.
Of course, Howard Grimm was glad to help Ruth out. Ruth had always been a good, quiet tenant who paid her rent in full every month. She helped his children with their Spanish and piano lessons. He decided to both help with her luggage and drive her to the station.
When Mr. Grimm and a few other men went to fetch Ruth’s luggage, they found two heavy trunks. Ruth apologized for the weight, saying they were medical books her husband needed for his new job.