The Execution of Ruth Snyder. Jan 12th 1928.

Hi,

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I was fascinated to see a picture taken by a reporter named Tom Howard, who worked for the Chicago Tribune.

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The day was January 12th in 1928.

A convicted murderer called Ruth Brown Snyder was executed in Sing Sing Prison after being found guilty of the murder of her husband Albert Snyder.

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Three years before, Ruth had begun an adulterous affair with a gentleman called Henry Judd Gray, who made his living selling corsets.

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After persuading her unwanted husband to take out an insurance policy on his life, she and her lover planned to murder the unsuspecting man.

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After some unsuccessful attempts they finally killed him on March 20th 1927 and tried to cover up the crime as a burglary gone wrong.

Police soon refuted this and arrested the cold blooded pair.

The ‘love affair’ then ended up with both parties accusing each other of committing the crime, and both were eventually found guilty of doing so.

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Tom Howard, a reporter, witnessed the execution of Ruth Snyder, by the method of the electrocution.

No one is allowed to take pictures of such proceedings, so he had described himself as a writer.

He put himself in an advantageous position to gain a clear view of the proceedings, and used a miniature camera which had been securely attached to his ankle, in order to to surreptitiously take a photograph.

As soon as the charge of electricity had been administered and the jolt hit Snyder’s body, he raised his trouser leg and pressed the shutter release button concealed in his pocket.

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Time-Life later described the resulting image to be ‘the most famous tabloid image of the decade,’ and Tom Howard later went on to become the Head Of Photography for the White House.

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In 1944, a film called Double Indemnity was made, based upon the sad case.

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My goodness, the power of a photograph!

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Have a good day,

j.

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