Victims of the State

Cuyahoga County, OH 

Eve Rudd

June 10, 2001

Twenty-seven-year-old Eve Rudd was indicted by a grand jury for the arson murders of her 4-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son. Authorities charged Rudd after finding pour patterns, which they said were evidence that she had doused clothing and papers in a second-floor bedroom with cooking oil and set the room ablaze. But the pour patterns proved to be a faulty indicator of arson.

Kenneth Gibson, a fire investigator retained by defense lawyers, videotaped an experiment with cooking oil and found it was not an accelerant – the oil by itself was not flammable unless it was heated to 540 degrees. Gerald Hurst, who also investigated the fire for the defense, said there were so many burn patterns, “you can't interpret them anymore.” A jury acquitted Rudd after she spent nine months in jail.  [10/07]

Wayne Ruff - See Marietta Seven

Clark County, NV 

David Ruffa

Feb 7, 2002 (Henderson)

David Ruffa was convicted of murdering his estranged wife, Shao Lei. Pre-trial DNA tests exonerated him and implicated an unknown person. Police and prosecutors refused to pursue this result and request DNA samples from other possible suspects. Instead they prosecuted Ruffa on the theory that he may have accompanied or hired the hands-on killer. Even without the DNA exoneration, the circumstantial case against Ruffa was weak and largely refuted by defense evidence.  However, Ruffa was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.  (TruthInJustice) (Defense Blog)  [3/07]

Norfolk, VA

Julius Ruffin

Dec 5, 1981

Several weeks after a woman was raped in her apartment, Julius Earl Ruffin happened to board an elevator with the victim at the Medical School where he worked as a maintenance worker. The victim called police and Ruffin was arrested and convicted based on her identification of him as her assailant. The biological evidence in the case was officially destroyed, but against the rules, crime lab analyst Mary Jane Burton had taped a piece of this evidence into her lab notebook. DNA tests of this evidence exonerated Ruffin in 2003 and a search through a DNA database returned a “cold hit” on another suspect.  (IP) (Washington Post)  [11/05]

Jefferson County, KY 

Troy Rufra


Troy Rufra, an American Express financial advisor, was charged with robbing three supermarket bank branches in St. Matthews plus another one in Clark County, IN. A teller at one of the supermarkets saw Rufra shopping there and identified him as the man who robbed her three weeks before. Rufra had left the supermarket by the time police arrived, but was identified by the debit card he used to make a purchase. Tellers at other bank branches then identified Rufra using suggestive one-on-one identifications. After a fifth robbery occurred, Rufra presented an airtight alibi, and police concluded he was innocent of all the robberies.  (Louisville CJ)  [11/05]

 Dallas County, TX

Stephen Russell

Sept 20, 1979 (Garland)

Stephen Lynn Russell was convicted in 1980 of robbing a Long John Silvers restaurant at 1425 Northwest Highway in Garland. Two women who rode in the getaway car told prosecutors that another man, Robert Earl Wilkie, was the robber. Wilkie later confessed in a court hearing. Wilkie could not be charged with the crime as the five year statute of limitations had since expired. Gov. Clements pardoned Russell in April 1990.  (Archives)  [5/08]

Humboldt County, CA

Jack Ryan

Oct 1925 (Coyote Flat)

In October 1925, the murders of Henry Sweet and Carmen Wagner fostered national headlines. Sweet, 21, and his companion, Wagner, 17, had gone deer hunting in the mountains and were found shot to death along with Wagner's dog. Two local mixed-blood Native Americans, Jack Ryan and his half-brother Walter David were arrested for the crime. Called “halfbreeds” in the press, evidence of their guilt was lacking. David was released but Ryan was charged with the murder of Wagner after a forensic analyst identified a bullet recovered from the victim and shell casings found near her body as fired from Ryan's gun. The politics of Prohibition as well as perjury and planted evidence tainted the case, however, and a jury of 12 white men acquitted Ryan after short deliberation.

Within months, a new DA, Stephen Metzler, was elected on a promise to solve the case or resign within two years. After the prosecutor's men purportedly tortured and murdered David, Ryan was charged with assaulting two young girls. Following an all-night, third degree interrogation and swift court proceedings, Ryan pleaded guilty to the Sweet murder and was sentenced to life in prison – all within 24 hours. Ryan later repudiated his confession, but spent 25 years at San Quentin and was paroled in 1953. Ryan always maintained he did not commit the crimes and did not know who did. A later investigator found that DA Metzler had paid a woman to testify against Ryan, and had gotten two other women to make similar statements. Ryan died in 1978, but Gov. Pete Wilson posthumously pardoned him in 1996.  (UC Berkeley) (New Gun Week 6-1-96) (CWC)

Philadelphia County, PA

Edward Ryder

Aug 17, 1973

Edward Martin Ryder, Jr. was convicted of the murder of Samuel Molten, a fellow inmate in Holmesburg Prison. Molten had been fatally stabbed. Centurion Ministries' investigation found an eyewitness, who identified the real killers. Ryder was granted executive clemency by Gov. Robert P. Casey and freed in Sept. 1993. After his release, Ryder's conviction was vacated in 1996 because of prosecutorial misconduct.  (CM) (76) (80)  [5/05]