Itasca Co. Crews Plunge for Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers

Volunteers Come Together to Solve Mystery

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Grand Rapids is proud of its connection to the “Wizard of OZ” and the Judy Garland Museum displays many items connected to the community’s most famous resident.

In 2005, the ruby red slippers Garland wore in the “Wizard of OZ” were stolen from the museum and those slippers have never been found.

The decade old rumor was put to the test Thursday as the Itasca County Sheriff’s Dive Team went into the 238 ft. deep Tioga Mine Pit in search of the ruby red slippers.

“The biggest thing that ever happened to our museum was getting the slippers stolen,” said Jonny Miner, Treasurer of the Board for the Judy Garland Museum.

Where are Dorothy’s ruby red slippers?

“I remember very clearly we had put them to bed and the next morning they were gone and we were literally crying,” remembered Miner.

It’s a crime that could’ve been prevented.

“The worst part about it was is we had a safe the bank had loaned us to put them in and they guy that owned them didn’t want us to handle them,” said Miner.

According to police, the glass case containing the slippers was smashed with a baseball bat and a prized possession was gone.

“We never thought anybody was going to steal them,” said Miner.

The statute of limitations for prosecuting the thief has run out, but that isn’t stopping these amateur investigators from moving forward.

The Itasca County Sheriff’s Dive Team has taken on the challenge of finding the symbolic slippers.

“There’s all kinds of rubbish on the bottom it could be anything from a container, to a plastic bag, to just loose slippers,” said Jon Arsenault.

Rumors have circled around since the day they went missing.

“We get a lot of tidbits of where they are you know we’ve heard they were in California, we’ve had a lot of different places they’ve seen them,” Debra Knopik.

“A lot of people up here actually know what happened but no one’s talking about it no one has,” said Rob Feeney, a volunteer and movie prop collector.

Leads in the past few months have brought this team full of volunteers to the Tioga Mine Pit.

“We’re confident that we’re in the right area and doing the right things,” said Miner.

Fans say if the iconic slippers were found, they would celebrate. “Oh I’d probably start crying,” said Feeney. “I would probably do a somersault,” said Knopik.

The ultimate goal is for the slippers to make it back safely to the museum, because after all, there’s no place like home.

In a practice dive a week ago they did find some objects they think could be linked to the case.

Those are currently being examined.

The team will also be diving Friday. The first will be at 11 a.m. and the second will be at 1 p.m. 

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