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Man charged with stealing 'Wizard of Oz' ruby slippers in 2005

Terry Jon Martin was charged in U.S. District Court in Minnesota with stealing a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz."

MINNEAPOLIS — Nearly 18 years after an unmistakable piece of Hollywood memorabilia was stolen from a museum in Minnesota, federal prosecutors believe they found the man that swiped a pair of iconic slippers.

On Tuesday, May 16, 76-year-old Terry Jon Martin was indicted in U.S. District Court in Minnesota for allegedly stealing a pair of the "ruby slippers" worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz."

The slippers, which the court says are worth at least $100,000, were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota in 2005.  Someone entered the building through an emergency exit door and broke into a small display case housing the shoes.

In a press release announcing the indictment, the U.S. Attorney's Office in North Dakota said at the time of the theft the ruby slippers were insured for $1 million, but the current appraisal value is closer to $3.5 million.

Thirteen years after they were stolen, the sparkly slippers were seized in a July 2018 sting operation conducted in Minneapolis. The shoes that were recovered were one of four remaining pairs worn by Garland in the film.

The three remaining pairs Garland wore in the movie were held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian, and a private collector.

Judy Garland Museum Executive Director Janie Heitz tells KARE 11 that the slippers were on loan from Hollywood memorabilia collector Michael Shaw at the time they were stolen. It was the fourth time he had loaned the museum the shoes.

Heitz says one of the stipulations Shaw placed on the museum before loaning the ruby slippers is that an insurance policy be in place in case the shoes were stolen. Heitz maintains that after the theft the museum's insurance company paid out the policy, so she's not sure if the shoes would go back to Shaw or to the insurance company.  Whatever the case, Heitz says the Garland Museum would love to permanently acquire them or partner with the new owner once they are released by the FBI. 

Editor's note: The video above first aired on KARE 11 in Sept. 2018.

A summons was issued for Martin Wednesday with an initial court appearance set for June 1 via video. Terry Van Horn, spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department in North Dakota, said he could not provide any information beyond what was included in the indictment.

This is a developing story. KARE 11 will provide more details as new information becomes available.

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