Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Feminism on Trial

Jailed

On the morning of May 25, 1977 Ginny opened the door to her home and saw four men in business suits standing there, one of whom asked her if she was Virginia Galluzzo. Lying about her identity at first, thinking Ray was trying to serve her with divorce papers, she owned up to her real name when informed that the men were detectives. When asked, "Is John Sidote your ex-husband?" Ginny knew there was going to be trouble.

"I want you to come downtown with us," one of the men said. "We need to talk to you about John Sidote saying that you murdered some people."

Ginny went with them to a police substation in Van Nuys. It turned out that two of them were from Los Angeles and the other two were from Douglas County, Nevada. Ginny was read her rights and agreed to talk freely with a tape recorder rolling, despite not having an attorney present to advise her. Jack, she soon found out, had implicated her in the murder of Donald Fitting that had taken place nearly twelve years earlier. He was making good on the threats he had made to "get even with her" at the time of their final breakup seven years earlier.

One of the detectives told Ginny that he had run her maiden name through the National Crime Information Center and she was in it. There was, he said, a warrant outstanding for her in Louisiana and she could be extradited. When she asked what the warrant was for, she was told it was for murder. This, she would later testify and write in her book, was the first time she had heard about either the Nevada or Louisiana murders.

Operating with the information they had from Jack's confession of several months earlier to the New York State Police, the main investigator bored in on Ginny, trying to make her confess. Finally, after about an hour of grilling and protesting her innocence in vain, Ginny demanded to speak to her lawyer. She was booked and taken to a jail cell.

Her lawyer, Bob Tuller, arrived a few hours later and tried to reassure her that it was a mistake that would be straightened out in the morning. But that wasn't to be the case. Ginny was taken to Sybil Brand, the Los Angeles County Women's Prison, where she was denied bail and told she was being held there pending extradition. While incarcerated, she endured the humiliation of being strip searched, sprayed for lice, being issued prison clothing, and being issued a prisoner number. Assigned to a cell with two other inmates and only two beds, Ginny was forced to sleep on a mattress in the middle of the floor. She was put on a strong tranquilizer Thorazine and given frequent dosages of it. All of this for a suburban, middle-class woman who, only hours earlier, had been relaxing in the comfort of her own home.

Sybil Brand, the Los Angeles County Women's Prison
Sybil Brand, the Los Angeles County Women's Prison

While she was imprisoned, Ray proved to be very supportive, even offering to sell their house to pay for her mounting legal expenses. Despite their separation and previous bitterness, their problems were shelved for the moment while they tried to straighten out Ginny's plight. Some of her friends from NOW also came to visit her, and though the organization refused to take a firm stand in her behalf, they did manage to collect about a thousand dollars toward her defense expenses.

In California, if a prisoner awaiting extradition isn't extradited within ninety days, they are automatically freed. As the ninetieth day approached Ginny was hopeful but her hopes were dashed when she entered the courtroom and saw deputies from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office waiting there. Governor Jerry Brown had signed the extradition order and Ginny was to be transferred to Nevada.

Governor Jerry Brown
Governor Jerry Brown

Soon after her arrival at the Douglas County jail in Minden, Nevada, Ginny learned to her horror that the prisoner being placed in a nearby cell was none other than Jack Sidote. All through the night she screamed and cried and begged for help, fearing that he would kill or harm her, even though he was helpless to do anything. To calm her down she was transferred the next day to a cell in Carson City.

 

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