Did Babe Ruth Set His Wife On Fire? Who Was Babe Ruth's Wife & What Really Happened? (2023)

“Does the glove fit the hand?” The question haunts O.J. Simpson’s trials, and then we have Don Crowder, who overturned an open-and-shut case into an ambiguous ending. While these cases remain officially closed, it leaves the bitter aftertaste of being buried unsolved.

One such case is the infamous mysterious death of Babe Ruth’s wife.

The Hall of Fame baseball player Babe Ruth is among the most celebrated national treasures. But a bout of his staggering career was shadowed by a controversy that divided the nation.

What happened to Babe Ruth’s wife? To get to the bottom of this case, we start from the very beginning–

How Did Babe Ruth Meet His Future Wife? Who Was Babe Ruth’s Wife?

Babe Ruth debuted as a pitcher on July 1914 with Boston Red Sox. As a young player, he was getting accustomed to the unsettled independent lifestyle, renting a hotel room in Boston. There he was often served by a soft-spoken, innocent-looking pretty young girl who worked as a waitress. Eventually, Ruth, who was 18, was introduced to her as she said her name was Helen Woodford, who was 16 then.

Well, young love ignition doesn’t need many sparks to fly, as the two soon began dating. Within three months, in October 1914, both got married. They lived in a humble abode in Boston’s Back Bay Neighborhood for the next five years.

As Babe Ruth began knocking it out of the park, he was making a hefty sum for it. Later in 1919, he bought a lavish 16-room house in Sudbury, Massachusetts. With Babe stationed to play the seasons in Boston, the couple rented a hotel room in Boston during the playoffs and then resided in their home for the rest of the year. The Red Sox later traded Ruth to the New York Yankees.

By September 1922, the couple was seen with a 15-moth old girl, whom they later introduced to the media as their daughter, Dorothy.

Baseball star Babe Ruth with his wife Helen and his daughter Dorothy at Pennsylvania Station, New York City, as he departs for spring training in New Orleans. pic.twitter.com/1x91IqsL1o

— 1923 Live (@100YearsAgoLive) February 15, 2023

As adorable as the family seemed, a few skeletons were in the closet….

Why Did Babe Ruth and His Wife Separate?

Cut to six decades later, Dorothy pens down her book revealing that the couple adopted her. But there’s more to the story– Ruth had an affair with a lady named Juanita, Dorothy’s biological mother. This revelation was the first of many affairs.

However, he didn’t take much time to hop onto the next alleged affair with a model/ Broadway performer, Claire Hodgson. Claire and her daughter, Julia, moved to New York in 1923. Within a few months, Babe made frequent visits to Claire’s place.

Meanwhile, Helen and Dorothy permanently moved into their home in Sudbury in 1925. After a few years, Helen and Babe separated, fully aware of his “arrangements.”

Helen moved in with Dr. Edward Kinder two years later in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Kinder and Helen have known each other since childhood. He was also a World War 1 veteran, attained his medical degree, and opened a dental practice in Boston. While the neighbors and their families perceived them as a married couple, Edward maintained that they never got married.

Meanwhile, Babe was breaking records with 60 home runs for the Yankees and was titled “Sultan of Swat” by the media.

What Happened On The Tragic Night?

Cut to the unfateful night of 11 January 1929–

  • Edward was out for the night for the boxing matches at the Boston Garden.
  • Then 7-year-old Dorothy studied at a Catholic Boarding School in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
  • Helen was alone at home. She took a few sleeping pills, turned on the radio, and fell asleep in the second-floor room.
  • At around 10 p.m.: A passerby notices smoke sweeping from the window. He immediately informed the authorities.

By the time the firefighters reached, the flames had already covered most of the house. After checking her vitals, they found Helen with major burns and declared her dead.

What Were The Reports Of Helen Woodford’s Death?

The following reports were recorded by the Boston Globe:

  1. When Edward was informed that a woman died at his home, he told the medical examiner, “She is my wife. Her name is Helen Kinder.”
  2. The medical examiner, George West, evaluated the cause as– “There was no indication of violence, and the condition of the body was consistent with a theory of death from suffocation in a fire.”
  3. The fire inspector’s investigation suggested that overloaded electrical wires caused the fire. He also mentioned amateur repair work that was not soldered, leading to a possible short circuit.
  4. District Attorney Robert Bushnell compiled all the reports and determined the cause as natural due to suffocation.
  5. Babe was informed two days later, who told the reporter– “My wife and I have not lived together for the last three years. During that time, I have seldom met her. I have done all that I can to comply with her wishes. Her death is a great shock to me.”

Today In 1934: New York #Yankees star Babe Ruth celebrates his birthday with his wife Claire and daughters Dorothy and Julia at their apartment in NYC! (edit/color by BSmile) #MLB #Baseball #History pic.twitter.com/YRmygqJzDt

— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) February 6, 2022

What Were The Speculations/Possible Theories Behind Helen’s Death?

After the primary investigation, Helen’s family was unsatisfied with the reports and demanded to halt her funeral. They probed for a proper investigation, considering the possible motives.

This led to a flipping-a-coin situation, with Edward Kinder or Babe Ruth on the chopping block.


Helen’s sister, Nora Woodford, had a possible theory– (as reported by New York Daily News)

She accompanied Helen to meet Babe on 10 December 1928 at Yankees Headquarters. Babe wanted to divorce Helen so he could marry Claire. Helen demanded $100000, to which Babe refused blatantly. So, Helen refused to divorce him.

According to Nora, this is suspicious, given that Helen has mysteriously died a month later from this rendezvous.


Meanwhile, Police Chief John Millmore was investigating Edward.

[Thumb rule for spousal murder investigation: 90% of the time, the murderer is the partner.]

They suspected that Edward had spiked her drink with opium which made her too drowsy to take any steps to save herself. However, they did not find any traces of drugs at his home or office., leading to a dead-end. The possible theory is that Edward wanted the insurance money from her death. Edward later denied calling Helen, his wife and said he doesn’t remember his conversation with the medical examiner.

Bushnell ordered another autopsy by expert pathologist George Magrath. The results were similar, and since her body had second-degree burns, it was too difficult to determine any other assault.

Finally, the case was closed, stating that she died in an accidental fire.

Boston Globe, who interviewed Babe after the funeral, reported that he had red-rimmed eyes” and a “quivering chin” and spoke in “trembling tones.”

“His great chest rose and fell, he gulped audibly, and his eyes filled as he dabbed at them with his big hands. For fully five minutes, he struggled for control of his feelings and emotions.”

Never forget that Babe Ruth murdered his wife (allegedly). @Starting9 pic.twitter.com/7wffc8WLjP

— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) June 23, 2021

Passing the detective’s hat to you–

What is your verdict? Do you think Babe Ruth was involved in the murder of his wife? Does Edward’s actions seem suspicious?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.


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