Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Albert Snyder

Mismatched Marriage

Jesse Guishard
Jesse Guishard
The marriage was troubled from the start. Their age difference may have been part of the problem. Albert just did not have the energy for attending the social events that Ruth so enjoyed. She kept house and served him tasty meals, but Albert wanted more. He wanted someone with whom he could discuss issues and share ideas. Ruth found books and art dull. Why, he wondered, couldnt she be more similar to his beloved Jesse? Why couldnt Ruth take an interest in culture? She always wanted to play bridge or jitterbug and listen to Cole Porter tunes. Ruth also did not share two of Alberts other passions -- sailing and hiking.

For her part, Ruth felt as if she had kissed Prince Charming only to have him become a frog. She could not comprehend his cerebral conversations, nor did she want to. Another problem was that Ruth was becoming increasingly jealous but her rival was a memory: the dead Jesse Guishard. Albert wore a necktie pin with the initial J.G. His sailboat was the Jesse G. Worst of all, perhaps, was that their home had a large picture of Alberts dead fiancée in the living room. There were also many smaller reminders of Jesse, including a photo album devoted to her.

Jealousy occasionally got the better of Ruth and she removed the portrait. But that always led to an intense fight with Albert who demanded that it be re-hung.

Then Ruth received what to her was good news: she was pregnant. Albert was not pleased. He had not wanted children. Ruth couldnt understand his attitude. Wasnt one of the main reasons people marry is so they can have a family? He was even more disappointed when the child was born and it was a girl. Ruth named her daughter Lorraine.

The baby drove the couple further apart. Albert did not share Ruths interest in the infant and he did not like being bothered by early morning crying and the smell of diapers. Albert also thought childbirth had ruined Ruths figure.

Map of Queens (AP)
Map of Queens (AP)

The family moved from neighborhood to neighborhood in New York City. Then in 1923, they settled into Queens Village. At each residence, Jesse Guishards portrait had prominent display.

The Queens home was two-and-a-half stories, painted muted pink with green trim. Two maple trees stood in the yard. To the right of the house was a driveway leading to a garage in back. Eventually a makeshift bird fountain, constructed out of a large saucepan and a pole, sat in the back yard. Lorraine Snyder would spend much time replenishing the pan and calling to birds.

At a certain point, Ruths mother, Josephine Brown, moved into the Snyder home. Ruth now had a babysitter for her daughter. The extroverted Ruth began attending more parties and socials. Delighted by her high spirits, friends nicknamed her Gay Tommy. (The word gay did not have its contemporary meaning in that era.)

One afternoon, when Ruth was lunching with a friend at Henrys, a Swedish restaurant, enjoying a smorgasbord. The friend introduced her to Judd Gray, a slender, bespectacled corset salesman with a chin cleft. 

Now 32, Ruth was concerned about her figure. She had a tendency to put on weight and may still have been self-conscious about the thickening effect of childbirth on her waistline. Smiling, she asked to see some some of Judds wares.

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