Ruby Ann Ruffolo

This blog will be a bit different than most because it takes place in Canada. Only on a few occasions have I discussed cases outside the United States because just as I try to respect our justice system I feel we should respect other systems, and yet I do not always agree with them, nor do I know the laws as well. Instead of using the word "prosecutor" they use the word "Crown" there but to avoid confusion for the most part I will use more traditional and American phrases. This case is a fairly cut and dry case no matter where it took place.

On October 20, 2003 in British Columbia, Canada Ruby Ann Ruffolo reported her husband, John, missing.  He worked third shift for the armored car company, Brinks, and had failed to go to work the previous night, nor had he returned home in the morning. She stated that she had left while he was still sleeping the morning before and had been gone all day at rental properties that they owned. She said when she returned home John was gone so she assumed he had gone to work. She stated his supervisor had called the night before saying he had not come in but she waited until morning before being too worried. Ruby seemed to be rather quick in telling officers that her husband had been depressed lately and had possibly used heroin.  

John Ruffolo's body would be found five days later in a water culvert ditch.  He would have puncture wounds and bruises in both arms at the elbows.  

Soon a man named Robert Johnson would go and talk to the police, and he had an incredible story to tell.  Johnson claimed that a few weeks earlier Ruby Ruffolo had approached him and asked him to kill her husband.  He said he had laughed, thinking it was a joke and had refused.  But, in the midst of the conversation Johnson had mentioned to her something he had recently seen on television called "hot capping." In essence it was referring to lacing and overdosing on heroin.  He went on to say that he had even commented to Ruby that he thought about $150.00 worth of the drug would be sufficient.  

Then, on the night of October 19th he had received a call from Ruby who asked him to come over and help her with some "heavy lifting."  He said he got to her home and saw that the lifting she wanted help with was the body of her husband.  Ruby had informed Johnson that he had overdosed on heroin.  He stated that he immediately left her home.

Investigators would find another person that could fill in the blanks that Johnson had left.  Her name was Vivian Kirkland. Vivian rented an apartment in the basement of the Ruffolo home and she had been friends with Ruby.  She claims that just around the time that Johnson claimed he had made the heroin suggestion to Ruby that she began pressuring her to get a hold of some heroin. After Johnson refused to help move John's body Kirkland claims that she and another tenant of Ruby's by the name of Doug Murray had helped her place John's body in her car and that she drove with her to the place in which they dumped his body.  

Kirkland would plead guilty in December of 2007 for her role in after the death. She was sentenced to time served, plus two years of probation.

But, investigators still had to get Ruby.  They arrested her about six months after the murder but it would take several years before she would ever go to trial.  Even then the first trial would end in a mistrial.

The prosecution argued that Ruby loathed her husband.  Their marriage had been rocky for a long while and she had discovered that John planned to get a divorce so that he could be with a co-worker in which he was having an affair.  

John and Ruby had married in 1990.  She had four other children from at least two other relationships but she had left them in the care of relatives.  John and Ruby would then have a daughter of their own, Jovanna but her other children still stayed with relatives elsewhere it seems.  In fact, I read something that was supposedly written by Jovanna that stated she did not even know for years that she even had any siblings.  Ruby had apparently come into some money during the marriage through some sort of an inheritance and while she claims it was her money that bought several rental properties, they were all listed in John's name.  Friends would say that Ruby was preoccupied with the fact not just that John would divorce her and cut her out of what she felt was rightfully hers, but that she had no desire to split the property with him.  It seems that John had once been a security guard at a prison but the issue of the rental properties got him in some trouble. He was convicted on several charges relating to the fact that he did not have a real estate license.  He claimed he did not know that he had done things illegal but of course the law does not care about what you do and do not know and he was fined several thousand dollars and lost his job because of it.  After that he had difficulty finding a job and then once he did he devoted himself to that and often worked extra hours.  

Between the witness testimony and evidence of the medical examiner it was determined that Ruby had mixed an antidepressant into a protein drink and had fed it to her husband.  She had then injected him in the elbows with the heroin. His ultimate cause of death was a lethal mix of heroin and amitriptyline.  

After many delays Ruby's first trial was in March of 2005 but it ended in a mistrial.  It appears that it was based on the jury being unable to come to a decision but I cannot be certain of that.  Ruby likely did not care. She had bailed out of jail fairly quickly and she was out on bond throughout her trials.  Her second trial, in 2010 was with a judge only as the decider.  

Ruby maintained her innocence throughout.  Her defense countered that John may have taken off into hiding because he owed money to drug dealers, something only Ruby apparently thought was a viable option.  They had one witness on the stand to state they had sold heroin to John in the past.  Then a couple testified that they saw him in a local restaurant some four days after he was supposed to be dead.  The judge would comment on that later in his ruling.

Aside from everything else the prosecution had they also claimed that the murder was committed because Ruby was angry at John for the fact that her son had committed suicide in 2002.  He had apparently hung himself in their backyard. I could not find any more information about any of her older children, or this event and while I cannot say Ruby did not blame John for this happening I would gander to guess since she had little to do with her children, her son had a lot more issues than just John.  

Ruby was convicted in November of 2010 for the first degree murder of her husband.  She was sentenced to life in prison with out parole for twenty-five years.  The judge was quick to point out that the defense theory that John was on the run from drug dealers, apparently their overwhelming theme did not make sense, especially after they put the couple on the stand who had claimed to see him out in a very public bar/restaurant. He was either on the run and in hiding, or he wasn't.  

One would think the case was over finally and John's family were relieved, although frustrated it had taken so long.  Their relationship with John and Ruby's daughter, who was now twenty had been strained.  It appeared that Jovanna had supported her mother throughout that time.  However, it was not over.  In May of 2011, despite her conviction a judge released her on a $100,000 bail pending the outcome of her appeal. The family was outraged but the judge (presumably not the same from trial) pointed out that Ruby had no prior convictions and that she had remained free while awaiting her trials for six years without issues.  Of course there were rules to her being released such as a curfew among other thinks.  

In July of 2012 a court ruled against her request for a new trial.  Her biggest argument was that her attorney had not asked her daughter on the stand where she had been that night. Now, this is all quite interesting.  Apparently Jovanna, who was about fourteen when her father was murder had initially told investigators she was not sure where she was at.  Detailed notes, apparently written by Ruby, had stated that her daughter had spent the night with a friend. Now the defense had an affidavit signed by Jovanna in March of 2012 stating that she was at home that evening and did not see or hear anything.  The judge flatly all but said he did not believe that affidavit and that it was unreasonable to believe that Jovanna's memory of where she was that night would be more clear now, than when it happened.  For me, I found it interesting that anyone would believe Jovanna in 2003 in saying she did not remember where she was.  I would think that would be, and likely is, etched in her brain considering that is the night authorities allege her mother killed her father.  

The last thing I could find on this case was an article saying that in February of 2013 the last of Ruby Ann Ruffolo's appeals had been denied.  I can only assume this means she went back to jail to serve her sentence.

I found somethings around the Internet that were interesting when it came to Jovanna.  It appears she had supported her mother throughout the years but has come to terms with what her mother did and believes in her guilt. One has to wonder if she had not always known and simply supported her out of fear because her mother was not behind bars and presumably still raising her.  It was in one of these reports in which it was indicated that Jovanna did not even know she had siblings from her mother for many, many years which indicates that when Ruby started her new life with John, she had pushed away her old one with her children.   


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