Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Henry Judd GRAY



The Snyder's house.



Albert Snyder body.







View of a display entitled 'Ruth Synder Murder' at the Eden Musee (or museum) waxworks
at Coney Island, New York, New York, early 1940s. Two of the figures' heads are
covered by paper cones to keep them free of dust.

The figures are from left, Ruth Snyder, her lover Judd Gray, and her husband Albert Snyder.
The lovers murdered the husband early in the morning of March 20, 1927; they were
executed for their crime January 12 of the following year.
(Photo by Weegee(Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photography/Getty Images)














Photographers are not permitted into executions in the United States. For the notorious Ruth Snyder case, the New York Daily News was desperate to get pictures; so they hired a Chicago Tribune photographer Tom Howard–virtually unknown to the prison warders or journalists in the New York area. On that fateful day  (12 January 1928), Howard, posing as a writer, arrived early in Sing Sing Prison and took up a vantage position. A miniature camera was strapped to his left ankle, the shutter release button was concealed within his jacket. As Snyder’s body shook from the jolt, Howard hoisted his pant leg and secretly snapped with a one-use camera.

That day’s Daily News’ cover simply said, ‘DEAD!’ with the final blurry image above, which instantly become one of the most indelible images of the 20th century. Howard gained overnight popularity. He received a princely sum and went on to become the head of photography for the White House. The state attempted to prosecute Howard and the newspaper, but nothing ever came of it. For many years afterwards witnesses to executions were searched and asked to hold up their hands so they could not operate hidden cameras. But the damage has already been done. The photo has become a rally cry for the opponents of the death penalty


Detail of Howard's camera.



Tom Howard being fitted for his special camera for Snyder's execution.



Tom Howard’s camera used to photograph Ruth Snyder.



Sing Sing Prison death chamber.



Sing Sing Prison electric chair.



Ruth Snyder in New York's electric chair.



Ruth Snyder in New York's electric chair.



Front page of the New York Daily News (January 13 1928), regarded as the initiation of the tabloids.
The newspaper titled "Dead!" with 172-points size font above the photo of Ruth Snyder on the
electric chair. You can appreciate on the right the autopsy table to which her body was going
to be transferred.



The caption under the photo of the front page reported Snyder's last words: "Father,
forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing" ( Close-up,
Tom Howard's camera.



Photo-illustration by Charles George for an exposition. On the left we can see Albert
and Ruth Snyder (with her mother and daughter). On the right, Ruth on the witness
stand, and Judd Gray.







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