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Crews search mine pit for stolen 'Wizard of Oz' ruby slippers

A search for Judy Garland's ruby slippers she wore in the Wizard of Oz came up empty Thursday.
Replica slippers

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – A search for Judy Garland's ruby slippers she wore in the Wizard of Oz came up empty Thursday.

Divers with the Itasca County Dive Team searched the waters of a mine pit that was abandoned about 60 years ago just outside of town where Garland was born and spent time as a child.

"Loose lips sink ships, and that's what happened, that's why we're able to kind of be here," said Jon Miner, the founder of the Judy Garland Museum.

Although police have an open investigation, Miner said he did his own mini-investigation. He claimed to have talked with people who apparently know what happened. They tell him teenage pranksters took the iconic shoes, he said.

"The theory is people put them in a case, in a can and threw them down in the duffle bag," he said.

This all started ten years ago when someone stole the shoes that were on loan from a collector at the Judy Garland Museum.

"They broke in through that door. Smashed the window on the emergency exit door," said museum director John Kelsch.

The police, as well as the insurance company investigated, especially since the shoes were insured for a million dollars at the time.

"Rumors have floated around in Itasca County for many years as to where the ruby red slippers might be and we've tracked down every one of them," said Grand Rapids Police Chief Scott Johnson.

Johnson said they have no credible evidence that points to the shoes being in the mine pit that goes down more than 200 feet.

That did not stop about a dozen people from showing up to watch the search Thursday afternoon, even if many thought the slippers wouldn't be plucked from the water.

"They might be in Debbie Reynolds bathroom." Dan Travis said with a smile. "I'm guessing it's not going to happen but it's a thrill."

After hours of searching, all divers found were a few metal relics, including a bottle top.

"We just want to know what really happened," said Rob Feeney, who helped organize the search and is a movie memorabilia collector.

Divers will return tomorrow to search one last day. This coincides with the 40th anniversary of Oz Fest which takes place all weekend in Grand Rapids.

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