Minnesota man pleads guilty in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ ruby slippers heist

The man accused of stealing Judy Garland’s famous ruby slippers from the classic film "The Wizard of Oz" pleaded guilty in federal court Friday. 

The slippers were taken from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids back in 2005 when someone climbed through a window and broke the display case. At the time, the shoes were insured for $1 million. The FBI recovered the slippers during a sting in 2018 after a man attempted to insure the shoes.

A grand jury indicted Terry Martin in May 2023 with one count of theft of a major artwork. He initially entered a not guilty plea but has since pleaded guilty to the crime.

Former museum director John Kelsch spoke outside the courthouse after the plea hearing, expressing disappointment that the thief was from the Grand Rapids community but grateful the mystery was finally solved.

"We have some closure. We know at least who broke into our museum," said Kelsch.  

Dekrey explained that Martin is suffering from advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which can affect the lungs and make breathing difficult. He has not spent any time behind bars for the crime, and a sentencing date has not been scheduled. 

"I think he’s lived a fast and loose life, and I think he’s okay with what’s happening now. I think he’s at peace with it frankly," said Martin’s lawyer, Dane DeKrey.

Only four known pairs of Garland's ruby slippers were used in "The Wizard of Oz". The shoes are made from about a dozen different materials, including wood pulp, silk thread, gelatin, plastic and glass. Most of the ruby color comes from sequins, but the bows of the shoes contain red glass beads.