Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ruthann Aron: A Deadly Campaign

An Abrupt End

Ruthann Aron
Ruthann Aron

In July 1998, Ruthann returned to court for her retrial with considerably much less fanfare than her previous trial. The public had grown weary of the case because the most interesting testimony had already been revealed. There was little new evidence to present.

During the retrial, the defense team decided to try a new approach. Their strategy centered on presenting less confusing testimony concerning Ruthann's mental health and greater focus on the entrapment argument, attempting to prove that Ruthann was "goaded" into hiring a hit man. The prosecution also revised their strategy, this time following a more "streamlined" approach. However, they decided to keep the evidence that convinced eleven of the twelve jurors several months earlier.

In the middle of the retrial, Ruthann hired attorney Barry N. Nace to represent her in a $25 million countersuit against her husband. Ruthann alleged that Barry "committed medical malpractice and intentionally inflicted emotional distress" when he prescribed her a combination of sedatives without ever diagnosing her condition, Philip P. Pan reported for The Washington Post. Nace claimed that the drugs "exacerbated" Ruthann's mental problems and caused a "psychotic break," leading to the contract on her husband's and Kahn's lives, it was further reported. However, the case would never be tried.

On July 31, 1998, Ruthann made a surprise plea of no contest, abruptly ending her retrial. Consequently, Ruthann was immediately ordered to jail to await sentencing. Four months later, she stood before Circuit Court Judge Vincent E. Ferretti, who ordered her to serve three years in the county jail. During her sentencing, Ruthann said that in actuality she did "crack up," although it was no excuse "for the most unconscionable and most unmentionable thing a human being can do," Shaver reported. She then broke into tears and apologized to her two children before reciting a Jewish prayer of forgiveness. She was then led away to jail.

After two years of hard time, Ruthann was released on probation in 2001. Shaver reported that "her entire record, including her conviction on two counts of solicitation to commit murder, had been expunged." Ruthann, who was divorced from Barry during her jail term, set out after her release to start a new life in New York City. She moved there to be closer to her son Josh, who was killed several months later in the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.

In 2005, Ruthann made the news again when a Maryland court reviewed whether she was sticking to her parole agreement. She was under scrutiny by the court because she was found to have a Florida driver's license and address, which she obtained under a different name. According to her parole, Ruthann was only "allowed to leave New York to visit her daughter in California or her mother in Florida but only for 30 days and only with her probation officer's permission," which she did not have, Shaver reported. Nonetheless, there was no clear cut evidence that she had violated parole.

To date, Ruthann's whereabouts are unknown, which is a frightening thought for some. Mossburg and Kahn have both expressed concern that Ruthann might return to seek vengeance against them, Dunn reported. As Mossburg was quoted saying in the interview, "She's capable of anything."

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