Judith Ann Ruggirello

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Above: Judith, circa 1968

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: August 18, 1968 from Southfield, Michigan
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Age: 29 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'1, 115 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Black hair, hazel eyes. Judith's nickname is Judy. Her maiden name is Gargano.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A white culotte dress with orange trim and white leather shoes with clear plastic bows.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Judith was last seen in Southfield, Michigan on August 18, 1968. She lived with her husband, Antonino "Tony" Ruggirello Jr., and two young sons in the 18600 block of Nadol. The night before her disappearance she told Antonino she'd put a deposit on an apartment and she wanted a divorce. They got into an argument and Antonino threatened her. The following day, at 11:00 a.m., he sent their sons to his brother's home for the afternoon. She has never been heard from again.

    Judith left her nightgown draped across a chair, makeup scattered on her dresser with some cosmetics uncapped, and the bed unmade, which is uncharacteristic of her; she was a good housekeeper. Twelve hours after she was last seen, her red 1967 Pontiac Bonneville convertible was found abandoned in the parking lot behind Darby's Restaurant at 7 Mile and Wyoming in Detroit, Michigan. The restaurant had recently been gutted by a fire. Judith's car had scratches on the hood and bumper and the hood ornament was broken, indications that it may have been towed. It had been wiped clean of fingerprints and her purse was inside it. It contained $2.96 in spare change and some keys, but the house key, her mother's house key, the car key and the savings deposit box key were all missing. The purse also contained the receipt for the $20 deposit Judith had placed on the apartment, at Parkway West Apartments in the 25600 block of Shiawassee. The move-in date was September 1.

    In the two years prior to her disappearance, Judith had been spending a lot of time with another man, and she and Antonino had many arguments about the relationship, but it isn't clear whether or not she was being unfaithful. One of the places they liked to go to was Darby's Restaurant, which is where her car was found. The man cooperated with police in her disappearance, passed a polygraph and has been cleared of suspicion in her case. Judith told her friends she was going to leave her husband and was thinking about getting a gun for protection.

    Antonino was the principal stockholder in Snow Pest Control Inc. and was on its board of directors; many of the other primary shareholders were Mafia kingpins, and Antonino himself bore the nickname "Tony the Exterminator" for his reputation as a suspected mob killer. One informer told authorities Judith's body had been taken to an auto wrecking yard and crushed by machine; another said her body was incinerated at Tri-County Sanitation Services in the 11400 block of Mound. The president of Tri-County Sanitation Services was Joseph Barbara, a known Mafia leader. Antonino and his three brothers were charged with multiple Mafia-related crimes in later years. In 1977, he and his brother Antonio "Toto" Ruggirello were found guilty of attempted murder after they put a bomb in a racketeer's car. He is still alive and still living in the area, is reportedly still active in the rackets, and is still the prime suspect in his wife's disappearance.

    It's possible that Judith was killed because she had knowledge of her husband and his associates' underworld activities. No one has ever been charged in her case, however; it remains unsolved.

    Antonino
    Above: Antonino Ruggirello, circa 1977
    (nine years after Judith's disappearance)

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Southfield Police Department
    248-796-5373

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    Source Information
    NamUs
    The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
    The Detroit Free Press
    The Gangster Report

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    Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated March 8, 2016; clothing/jewelry description added, distinguishing characteristics and details of disappearance updated.

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