Case of the Month: Ruby Grace Byron

Ruby Grace Byron: photography courtesy of the Byron Family/Grid AdS

Ruby Grace Byron/Grid AdS

Case of the Month: Ruby Grace Byron (May 26, 1902 – Jan 25, 1976) was found murdered in her house that was set on fire. The fire department found her on the floor near the front door. There were blood smears on the door frame.

Mrs. Byron(73) had distinctive blows to her head just above the right ear. She had been hit with an instrument similar to a hatchet. The blows to her head had the same size and appearance. Her right eye was black and she had suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

According to the fire department, the fire started near the couch in the living room. At the time they believed that there were no flammable materials in that area hence questioning arson.

However, as forensic arson detection progressed we now know that ordinary pieces of furniture contain flammable materials such as upholstery (check point #8). Accidental fire was ruled out as the furnace/house had new wiring and the victim did not smoke so discarded cigarettes were not an option. Note: to learn more about forensic arson detection click here.

The fire department (first on the scene) found the front door locked and kicked in the door. There was no smoke coming from any of the windows. A bit of smoke came from the roof vents. The back door was unlocked but closed with the interior screen locked. Snow was piled high on the back porch. The neighbors had not seen the victim for some days due to travel. They told police that they had seen no suspicious activity, no unfamiliar cars or, anyone running to or from the house that night.

After kicking in the front door, the fire department found excessive heat and smoke inside that only escaped when they kicked in the front door. Upon inspection, police found the bedroom drawers ransacked.

Ruby Grace Byron/USA census reports

Ruby Grace Byron/USA census reports

Mrs. Byron had received a ride home after a short trip. Upon arrival, her ride checked the house to make sure that Mrs. Byron was safe. They found nothing wrong. The victim had some cash in the house (about $100) and $7 in her purse. According to the family that purse was never found.

Mrs. Byron was a generous person and helped all who came to her door. She gave money never asking anything in return. This generous behavior might have led someone to take advantage of her. According to her family, Mrs. Byron was careful with her money. “She didn’t throw money around. She lived on a low-income.”

The evidence that the authorities gathered at the crime scene didn’t give them enough leads. The only partial fingerprints found belonged to the victim. They did take fingernail scrapings, preserved (at the time) the victim’s clothes, and took a sample of her skull. They didn’t find any jewelry on the victim.

In 1976, police had no suspects. They marked the file inactive. But we live in 2016 now. If the clothes were properly preserved we should check them with the M-Vac for touch DNA. Also, the fingernail scrapings and the blood smears that were found on the door frame (if preserved) should be tested with modern technology.

Mrs. Ruby Byron does not have a web presence. Her family still wonders who took her away from them. If you have any information please contact the Saginaw Police at 1-989.759.1218.



The Byron Family

In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight old cold cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis and of course, sometimes more information can be found online and in newspaper archives. The goal of these posts is to get the cases back in the spotlights, to get people talking again, and if anything to make sure that we do not forget the victims. Just because their cases are cold does not mean that we can forget about them.

If you have any thoughts about this case then I encourage you to post them on your own social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc. Every time that we mention Ruby Grace Byron’s name online we enhance her digital footprint.

We must make sure that Ruby gets a better web presence if we ever wish to find answers in her case. You can help by linking to or sharing this post. It will also send a message to the Byron family: Ruby is not forgotten.

Thank you for remembering Ruby Grace Byron with us.