Ruth Downing, 24, was found dead on February 2, 1956 in Surfside, on Biscaya Drive, at a place only one minute’s walk from where Danny Goldman was kidnapped in 1966. The body was found directly across a small residential street from the home of a prime partner of Meyer Lansky.
Downing’s murder was never officially solved, and in reality, was never actually investigated or prosecuted. The case was noticeable to us for its location, and relations to people and events involved in other cases.
T.A. Buchanan took charge of the homicide investigation at the Dade Sheriff’s Office. No one was ever arrested for the Downing murder. Here is a summary of what we found in looking into what really happened.
Ms. Downing was found wearing a bright red dress, in an empty residential lot on Biscaya Island, across from the home of Sam Tucker. Tucker, a top tier organized crime figure, lived in the only home within 75 feet. Tucker and Meyer Lansky were partners in casinos in Havana and Las Vegas. There were only 8 homes on Biscaya Island at the time.
Ms. Downing’s body was discovered at 8:10 AM by Surfside patrolman Officer Kenneth Galusha. The death appeared to have occurred at about 3:00 AM. Mr. and Mrs. Tucker were at home, and reported nothing unusual. Dade Sheriff’s detectives Manson Hill and T.A. Buchanan took over the case.
Ms. Downing had been stabbed several times with a long knife. No weapon was found, no arrests were made, no trials ever occurred. The case was widely covered in the press as the “Lady in Red” case.
In a hidden and bizarre series of events pieced together by the ‘posse’, Randolph Herring was alleged to have committed this and many other crimes, was found to be severely mentally ill, was put under hypnosis, was sent to a state mental hospital, was kept in confinement for many years, and then was brought back to Dade County, declared sane, declared not guilty of (another) crime (a Miami rape case) – not guilty by virtue of insanity. Then, based upon his current state of ‘sanity’, he was released.
No one, including Mr. Herring, ever faced charges in the death of Ruth Downing. The tragedy of Ruth Downing’s murder has a place in the overall scenario of crime, coverup, and corruption that ruled Dade County at the time.