Lead on stolen ruby slippers shrivels up

CHICAGO — In about as much time as it takes Dorothy to click her heels three times, the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in 1939's "The Wizard of Oz" were stolen almost five years ago from a Grand Rapids, Minn., museum.

Last month, police thought they had made a break in the case. Will County, Ill., sheriff's deputies raided a southwest suburban Homer Glen, Ill., home where a tipster said he had seen the iconic shoes in a glass case under a television.

The tipster said a resident at the home told him he had paid to have the burgundy slippers stolen in 2005.

But the search proved more fruitless than the Tin Man's hunt for a heart: Authorities found nothing at the home.

Gene Bennett, the Grand Rapids investigator who handled the case until he retired in January, described it as "very frustrating" and said hundreds of false leads have come in from across the country.

"I do believe it was local people," Bennett said. "When they stole them they didn't realize what they had. There were rumors that they threw them in the river. People still talk about it."