Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ruthann Aron: A Deadly Campaign


Map of New York State with Fallsurg Locator
Map of New York State with Fallsurg Locator

Ruthann was born to David and Frieda Greenzweig on October 24, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York. She was the first born of two children, the youngest being her brother Neil, several years her junior. During Ruthann's youth, the family moved to Fallsburg, New York, a Catskill Mountain resort town, where her father owned and operated a traditional stainless-steel diner. As a child, Ruthann worked there with her brother, waiting tables and assisting with daily operations.

Ruthann proved to be a hard worker, which was not only evidenced by the long hours she put into the diner, but also by the tremendous amount of work she invested in school. She was a gifted student with high aspirations, excelling in science, as well as in other classes. The Washington Post's Gregg Zoroya reported that she was "always at the top of her class," which earned her entrance to Cornell University in the 1960s, where she majored in microbiology. Ruthann went on to obtain a master's degree in education from New York University. During her studies, she met a charming and ambitious medical student named Barry Aron. The young couple fell in love and within a year they were married.

Sign: Cornell University
Sign: Cornell University

Unfortunately, problems began to surface early on within the marriage. One of the major difficulties they faced, which nearly ended their marriage, was Barry's infidelity, specifically an affair he had four years into the marriage with a nurse, according to Katherine Shaver of The Washington Post. Despite their marital problems, the couple managed to keep their relationship intact. Soon after, they had their first child, Dana, born in 1970. Her birth was followed two years later by that of her brother, Josh, the couple's last child.

During this time, Ruthann and Barry struggled financially. Ruthann worked as a teacher and researcher to earn enough money to support the family, while her husband worked his way through medical school to be a urologist. Barry eventually found work in the medical corps at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, prompting the family to move to nearby Montgomery County in 1973. Three years later, Ruthann, then 33, went to law school at Catholic University. This time her husband financially supported the family with the income he made with his urology practice and work he conducted at the newly constructed Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, which opened in 1979.

Map of Maryland with Andrews Air Force Base Locator
Map of Maryland with Andrews Air Force Base Locator

Like her husband, Ruthann was on a mission to succeed. By 1980, after being admitted to the Maryland bar, she promptly began working for a zoning hearing examiner in Montgomery County, Charles Babington reported for The Washington Post. Ruthann was quoted in the article as having been "bitten by the bug of zoning and land use," which led to her shifting political gears and turning her "full attention to real estate development in 1983."

At that time, Ruthann worked with a series of partners, developing commercial and residential projects in and around Montgomery County. Zoroya reported that she was highly successful in the "male dominated world" she entered, completing seven projects in a ten-year period. As a result, the couple amassed significant wealth, living in a stately colonial-style home in Potomac, Maryland, an affluent suburb of Washington, D.C. However, some of the money they accumulated, estimated at about two million dollars, went to fund Ruthann's legal bills, a result of business deals gone sour. Her legal problems would lead to a very public showdown that would negatively alter Ruthann's future course and set in motion a series of potentially deadly events.

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