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Winnie Ruth McKinnell Judd (January 29, 1905 - October 23, 1998) was an American medical secretary living in Phoenix, Arizona who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in a 1931 trial marked by sensationalized newspaper coverage and suspicious circumstances. The case of the so-called "trunk murderess" raised debate over capital punishment.[1]

Judd was charged and convicted of the murder of Agnes LeRoi, one of her two former roommates she allegedly murdered in mid-October 1931 in Phoenix, Arizona, after a fight caused by a conflict of interest—all three women were interested in the same man, a Phoenix businessman named Jack Halloran.[2]

According to the police, the two victims were killed with a .25 caliber handgun on the evening of October 16, 1931. Then, according to prosecutors, Judd and an accomplice dismembered Hedvig "Sammy" Samuelson and stuffed the head, torso, and lower legs into a black shipping trunk, and the upper legs into a beige valise and hatbox. LeRoi's body was stuffed intact into a second black shipping trunk.[2]

The case was displayed in headlines across the country and Judd came to be called names such as "Tiger Woman" and "The Blonde Butcher". The case itself came to be known as "The Trunk Murders," since the trunks containing the bodies were shipped by train from Phoenix to Los Angeles.

Judd was tried and convicted only of the murder of Mrs. LeRoi, whose body was not dismembered. The jury that tried Judd condemned her on February 8, 1932. An appeal was unsuccessful. Judd was sentenced to be hanged February 17, 1933, and sent to Arizona State Prison. The death sentence was repealed and she was sent to Arizona State Mental Hospital on April 24, 1933.

From 1933 to 1962 Judd escaped from the Arizona State Hospital seven times, often for several years at a time. She was released 21 December 1971 and moved to Stockton, California. She died 23 October 1998 the age of ninety-three.


  1. ^ "Winnie R. Judd, 93, Infamous As 1930's 'Trunk Murderess'". The New York Times. October 27, 1998. Retrieved January 12, 2010. "Winnie Ruth Judd, who spent three decades in an Arizona state mental hospital as the notorious trunk murderess in one of the most sensational criminal cases of the 1930's, died in Phoenix on Friday. She was 93"  
  2. ^ a b Geringer, Joseph. "Winnie Ruth Judd: 'The Trunk Murderess' In Perspective". Women who kill. truTV. Retrieved 2010-01-12.  

Further reading

  • Winnie Ruth Judd: the Trunk Murders by J. Dwight Dobkins and Robert J. Hendricks Grosset & Dunlap: 1973. ISBN 0-448-02187-0
  • The Trunk Murderess: Winnie Ruth Judd : The Truth About an American Crime Legend Revealed at Last by Jana Bommersbach. Simon & Schuster: 1992 ISBN 0-671-74007-5


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