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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Search warrant served in San Diego seeking Dorothy's ruby slippers

A pair of ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in the movie The Wizard of Oz was the subject of a search warrant served last month in San Diego.
Search warrant served in San Diego seeking Dorothy's ruby slippers

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) -- They have been called the Holy Grail of movie memorabilia. A pair of ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in the movie The Wizard of Oz was the subject of a search warrant served last month in San Diego.

The ruby-red slippers were stolen from a Minnesota museum six years ago and they are estimated to be worth about one million dollars.

There were at least five different pairs of ruby slippers made for production of the popular 1939 movie, four believed to be worn by actress Judy Garland or her double during filming and one test pair.

According to a search warrant obtained by News 8, investigators with the San Diego County District Attorney's office and the California Department of Insurance went looking for the stolen, million-dollar slippers on June 23 at a home on Redcrest Court in the southeastern San Diego community of Skyline.

The house is rented by 55-year-old Joseph Randall.

"The thing is, I don't want people knowing I have ruby slippers," said Randall outside the home. "And I've tried to keep it that way for the last 20 years."

Asked by a reporter if he ever owned a pair of ruby slippers from the original movie, Randall replied, "They're in the bank now because I can't keep them anywhere now except in the bank vault."

According to the search warrant, insurance investigator Frank Barkowski spotted the ruby slippers inside a safe at Randall's home while checking out a claim that Randall had lost $204,000 worth of collectibles during a burglary on May 7.

"He says to me, ‘I got the original ones in my safe.' And I go, ‘you got the original ruby slippers?'" said Barkowski, who is a former Los Angeles police officer.

Barkowski snapped photographs of the ruby slippers inside the safe at Randall's home. He did some research and found out the shoes that were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN in 2005 were still missing.

"When you do some research, it almost seemed likely that maybe he did have the originals," Barkowski said.

So, Barkowski called the district attorney's office.

"I called them and said, ‘I got a burglary. I got a guy who says he's got the original slippers. We've got the original slippers missing.' And they wrote a search warrant and they went over there and looked,'" Barkowski recalled.

Investigators opened the safe, found the shoes, and determined they were not the stolen ruby slippers. Randall's slippers did not have the correct serial numbers and they did not have the name Judy Garland written inside, as the stolen pair did.

"The investigation by the district attorney's office revealed they were phony," Barkowski said.

Even Randall admits that his shoes are not the same ones stolen from the museum. Still, he insists they are authentic and were given to him by an MGM costume designer decades ago.

Randall claims there are not just five pairs of original ruby slippers in existence, as most historians report. Instead, Randall says there are more like 11 or 12 pairs.

Randall also claims his 1988 Roll Royce was once owned by Elton John and his 1948 Bentley was driven by King George VI of England.

Randall's Facebook profile photo shows him sitting on a throne.

"He's got a whole room full of thrones," investigator Barkowski said. "He's got 6-feet-tall suits of armor."

And while court records reveal Randall also has a 2006 misdemeanor conviction for fraudulently selling collectibles on EBay, Barkowski is not quite ready to close his case file.

"Some of this stuff has some truth to it," said Barkowski. "And I think he knows more about these ruby slippers than he's telling us."

The district attorney's office has confirmed that the ruby slippers owned by Joseph Randall are not the shoes stolen from the museum in 2005. A DA spokesperson told News 8 the case is officially closed and no charges have been filed.