Ruby Jane & Mom Held At Gunpoint / Gear Stolen

December 10, 2011 - By Trigger  //  News  //  53 Comments

In a very alarming story, 17-year-old fiddle phenom Ruby Jane and her mom JoBelle Smith were carjacked and held at gunpoint in Houston Thursday night (12-8-11) around midnight after a show at Dosey Doe with Paul Thorn.

As Jobelle pulled up to a friend’s condominium complex where they were staying the night, and rolled down the window to enter the gate code into the keypad, a man reached through the window and held a gun to JoBelle’s head. The man fled in their 2004 Chevy Trail Blazer, with all of Ruby Jane’s musical equipment, including a custom-made violin and mandolin, guitars, microphones, pedals, and Jobelle’s video and camera equipment, cell phones, jewelry, and then left the two girls on the side of the road, fleeing in their car. “I thought they were going to take Ruby,” Jobelle says.

Ruby Jane was a fiddle prodigy originally from Mississippi who was the youngest invited fiddle player to ever play the Grand Ole Opry. At age 14, she moved to Austin, TX, and began playing in Ray Benson’s Asleep At The Wheel where she met Willie Nelson and toured numerous times in Willie’s “Family Band.” She is now a singer/songwriter developing her own career as a solo artist with her own band.

Both Ruby Jane and Jobelle are fine, and are back in Austin where they live, though they had to cancel their show at Houston’s historic Anderson Fair tonight (Sat), and Ruby Jane is currently sick with the flu. Both Ruby and Jobelle had their cell phones stolen, and didn’t even have keys to their home when they arrived back in Austin.

The custom bond between a musician and their instruments can never be replaced. Ruby Jane had a custom violin made especially for her from Jonathan Cooper that is inscribed on the inside “Made for Ruby Jane,” and a custom-made mandolin from Michael Kelly. Below please find a list of the stolen instruments to be on the lookout for, and as more detailed information/pictures are made available, I will update the list.

A benefit has been set up for Ruby at Victory Grill in Austin on Saturday Dec. 17th from 7-10 PM featuring WhoDo, a band Ruby plays in. Her performance at Gruene Hall this Sunday (12-18) from 12:00-3:30 PM Central will also be a benefit, and will be broadcast LIVE here on SCM LIVE.

Last month Ruby Jane set up a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to record a new album, so folks can contribute there as well.


12-11 (2:30 PM CST) – Ruby’s 12-string guitar was found beside the dumpster of Mason’s Pawn Shop in Southeast Houston. That means the rest of the stuff is out there folks. Please keep an eye out! Updating the list of stolen items when the information is available.

12-11 (7:25 PM CST) – Ruby appeared as the top story on Austin’s ABC affiliate KVUE about the incident. Apparently the will have more about the story on their evening broadcast.

12-12 (7:45 PM CST) – Ruby’s 12-string guitar and their case full of merchandise were recovered from the Houston police, after being found near a pawn shop dumpster in Southeast Houston. Unfortunately a team of volunteers were unable to find any more items. An updated list of items still missing can be found below. 12-14 (10:45 AM CST) – A couple of new stories on the carjacking. Ruby Jane speaks to We Are Austin and goes into a little more detail about what occurred, and Austin Culture Map talks with JoBelle about being thankful for all the help they have received. They have also posted a new update to the Kickstarter page. 12-14 ( 1:00 PM CST) – A paypal donate button has been set up for folks who want to contribute to Ruby directly

12-15 (12:20 PM CST) – The stolen Trailblazer has been found by Houston police. No word at the moment of it’s condition, or if any contents were left in it. Stay tuned. It has also been confirmed that Ruby’s Show at Gruene Hall this Sunday (12-18) from 12:00-3:30 PM Central will be a benefit as well, and for folks who are not able to attend locally, it will be broadcast right here on SCM LIVE.
12-16 (12:00 AM CST) – JoBelle Smith and Ruby’s guitar player Trevor LaBonte were featured on the Channel 2 News in Houston. The story shows where Ruby and JoBelle were carjacked, and them searching for the stolen instruments.
12-17 (12:15 PM CST) – Jobell Smith’s Chevy Trailblazer was recovered in Houston in a Jack in the Box parking lot. There is some slight damage, but generally speaking the car appears OK. The only thing that was left in it was a suitcase full of clothes and some various papers. Unfortunately nothing of significant value. Ruby appeared recently on Austin’s NBC Affiliate KXAN about the incident.
12-18 (3:00 PM CST) – Last night was a benefit for Ruby at Victory Grill in Austin, TX. Both KVUE and KXAN in Austin were there covering the event.


List of Stolen Items:

  • FOUND – Gray 2004 Chevy Trailblazer with Texas License plates “LGK 973″ w/ numerous bumper stickers
  • Jonathan Cooper custom-made violin with the inscription “Made for Ruby Jane” (see pic below)
  • Michael Kelly custom-made mandolin, dark reddish brown with inlaid head & neck (see pic below)
  • FOUND – Gibson acoustic/electric 12-string guitar (see pic below)
  • FOUND – Gray Neumann microphone in a gray case
  • Beta 87 microphone
  • Pedal board in big gray hard case, with 2 Red Eye DI boxes (see pic below), Boss Chromatic tuner, blue ABC switch, Silver AB switch
  • Sony Video HandyCam, model NEX-VG10, serial S01-0124165-5 or XBJ7-V8VP-8PYE (see pic below)
  • Nikon D-90 digital still camera, serial #3098020
  • Pedal board with various pedals (more update soon)
  • (More detailed info coming)

FOUND – Ruby Jane’s Stolen 12-string acoustic Gibson guitar

Ruby Jane Stolen Mandolin

Stolen Sony Handycam

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -


(1-8-13) – Ruby Jane’s custom Jonathan Cooper violin has been found and recovered by Houston police. After receiving a tip from a Ruby Jane fan who saw the violin listed on Craigslist, Houston police contacted the seller, offered to purchase the violin, set up a meeting, and made an arrest. The suspect Sexton Holmes says he bought the violin from someone “down the street” from him for $45. Sexton spent the night in jail before posting bail. He is now awaiting trial, and Ruby Jane will be recovering her violin soon.

See Full Story From Click 2 Houston.


53 Comments to “Ruby Jane & Mom Held At Gunpoint / Gear Stolen”

  • Re-posted this. Absolute bullshit, really really low if you ask me. Hope they get their gear back and the fucker gets locked up.

  • What the hell….. People are fucked up. I will re-post. Poor ladies.

  • Thanks for posting Kyle. Really makes me sick to my stomach, I can only imagine how Ruby and Jobelle feel. Thank Heaven they are safe. Please please please visit the “Kickstarter” site and help out.

  • Thursday night was a tough night for Texas music. As all of this was happening to Ruby Jane and her mom, Bee Spears was stranded out in the elements fighting for his life, someone Ruby shared the stage with many times in Willie Nelson’s band. It’s all really tragic and hard to swallow.

  • Houston! How many stories haven’t I heard about that shitty place. Once I met a guy who was shot in the head for nothing at the parking lot of a Jack In the Box, not to mention the numerous of other stories. Don’t fucking go there! God bless all the good music coming from there though but…..

    Hope they both will recope well from that incident. Auch!

  • F’n speechless. Bad enough that it happened, but especially so this close to Christmas. Should start a Kickstarter page for Jobell to get a nice .357 to drop a fucker if this ever happens again…..

    • JoBelle may be 95 pounds if she is soaking wet and is knee high to a grasshopper, but the thing is, she’s a lioness and would do just about anything she could to protect Ruby. Unfortunately this coward came up from behind. Toe to toe, she’d probably would have killed him or died trying to protect Ruby.

      What I wouldn’t give to have been in the back seat at that moment. I’m not for hurting or killing anybody, but you cross the line that hard, you deserve whatever is coming to you.

  • Hopefully she gets her stuff back, that is just awful. Have had many a gun pointed at me, and I pose much more of an imposing figure than ruby…people are just sick. Really a bad scene.
    best of luck, keep the chin up.

  • Fuck whoever did that! Tired of talant-less fucks preying on people who are just trying to make a living! Get a life douche bag and when you get to prison I hope you get injected with a violin up your ass

  • John, it’ll probably happen. I’ve heard there’s plenty of violins in prison.

  • Just plain awful. Not only did her belongings get stolen, but her soul was robbed too. Nobody should have to go through that.
    Thanks, Trigg, for keeping us in the loop.
    Best of luck to Ruby and her family!

  • WHAT? This is terrible! Poor girls! I am so sorry for their sheer terror and losses. Thank goodness they’re physically ok, though they’ll probably have the shakes and nightmares for times to come. I offer my kindest wishes and good juju for support. The Ruby Janes of this world are few and far to come by and I hope everything works out for the very best.

  • You know, this is happening a lot. I heard of other artists being mugged and such lately…

    As a musician I have to say that I really feel for Ruby. We get so attached to our guitars and often there are sentimental issues that surround them where we can’t part with them. Someone taking my guitars would really hurt me.

    • The thing that makes this especially disturbing to me is that whoever did this did not know Ruby was a musician. This didn’t happen behind a venue like so many thefts happen, this wasn’t unattended gear waiting to be loaded into a trailer, this was an armed robbery that happened in a random place, and it happened to a girl who is 17. The image of a gun being pointed at someone you love, or being pointed at you, is an image not easily erased.

  • Thank you for letting us know. This is the first I’ve heard of it. What a horrible thing for such good people to have to go through. Thank the Good Lord they were not harmed.

  • Ruby is in our band, WhoDo, and we’re having a fundraiser for her on Saturday, Dec. 17 at Victory Grill in Austin, from 7-10 pm.

    • Excellent, we’ll be there! Just added the info to the article above.

  • Thank God they were not injured and I pray the culprits see swift and full justice.

    To those who have posted their condolences and aren’t literate enough to make a sentence without expletives, I pray for you also. May God grant you a bit of knowledge so that you will understand that not everyone is as morally deficient as yourselves and your punk trash talk (although well meaning) simply shows your ignorance.

    • Capt Jim,

      I too was a little disappointed to see some of the harsh language brought here. There is a time an place for everything, and I would have rather us show ourselves to be bigger people at this moment and not go there. But at the same time, people are very angry and hurt over this incident, because they care and the injustice here is so clear. I could censor their comments, but I’d rather give them an outlet for their anger, so that it is manifested in words, not actions, like the angry and aggressive actions that started this whole thing. They may be “punks” but I have no doubt they are morally good people who are just angry over a situation, and if any of them were there Thursday night, they would have done everything they could to help Ruby and her mom.

      • I understand the anger and please trust me when I say that I would be at the front of the line to put the thug(s) on the ground that pulled the carjacking. I also understand your stance as moderator. Thank you.

        I know what a blow the loss is and I hope, and have faith, that Ruby Jane will emerge from the tears and anger with even more determination and resolve than before.
        Look forward, think positive.

      • I’m not going to be politically correct. I’m not going to go through the motions of wishing the attacker well, because I don’t. Honest to God I hate that piece of shit.

        A terrible crime was committed. Any criminal who will put a gun to your head and threaten to kill you deserves to die. From my perspective this is absolute, because it is about defending our fundamental rights. Nobody should ever have to have a gun put to their head by violent criminals. Ever. Carjacking is totally unacceptable and unforgivable. No exceptions. If this scumbag doesn’t spend the rest of his life in prison justice will not have been served.

  • Have been a fan of Ruby for a while now. Feel like we watch her grow up from afar. What Waymore says I think is the truist and saddest part about this, that part of her soul just got taken away. Ruby Jane has been for many of us what we dream of as right in the world – youth, talent, drive, ambition and hope. Her upbeat posts and music chronicle that young life and she’s got a special thing of being poetic and travelled at such a young age. To have this done to her should sadden us in the worst way. It holds up that mirror to the shitty side of people who are out there who cross the line over to those of us who are just getting by, minding our own business and trying to create something good, wholesome and honest in the world. Keep your chin up Ruby. There are many, many, many more good people out there who would fight tooth and nail for you. Be strong.

  • This is horrible news…I am so sorry yall went thru having the gun and the terror….and then the loss of the instruments. Awful…. I send love and belief that these things will be returned to you in fine shape, very very quickly.

  • I hate to hear this . . . the world is a messed up place. I am glad Ruby and her mom are ok because that is way more important than anything else.

  • That is terrible. If only someone would steal all of the overused commas in the article…

  • There’s a reason why they used to hang horse thieves. To steal someone’s lively hood… gosh, I don’t have the words. I posted this to the Austin Musician Facebook Group. If I were you I’d get this viral on You Tube and Facebook.

    • This story was posted and reposted about 60 times on Facebook yesterday, at least from what Facebook was allowing me to see, could have been more. It was reposted on Twitter about 20 times as well. But yes, people need to post and repost and get the word out as best we can, and every effort is being made here to do so. I’m also working on getting a more detailed list of the stolen items with pictures. Just updated it with some more stuff.

  • I have been a professional fiddle and mandolin player since I was 16 and I know how important it is to have your vehicles and instruments totally insured. At least you could replace everything as good as you can with the money that everyone is going to donate to your cause. I feel bad that this unfortunate incident occurred and am very lucky that nothing like this has ever happened to me. I feel bad for Ruby Jane and her Mother and I haven’t ever met them. Keep the faith, Ruby Jane, and keep on entertaining !!!

  • So sorry to read about this, but so grateful to know that they both walked away unharmed.

  • I am just heartbroken. After having been a fan for a couple of years, and FB friends with them both, I was thrilled when they booked a gig here in Iowa last summer on their way to Lollapalooza in Chicago, the only gig on their Austin-to-Chicago roadtrip.
    Up until that gig I always expected would have to go to Texas to hear her play and meet her and mama Jobelle someday.
    The 110 mile roadtrip each to the venue was a very small price to pay!
    Ruby Jane and Jobelle are both incredibly gracious and friendly and wear their hearts on their sleeves. I just can’t believe this has happened. As a musician, I know how bonded one can become to certain special instruments. It’s value is existential or perhaps spiritual. You can’t put a dollar amount on that on an insurance policy.
    I’ll close with the same line I opened with.
    I am just heartbroken.

  • I have friends that live and play in Houston so putting the word out. I pray nothing like this happens to them. I am so glad you both are okay. Like we always say, they were just things and you have your lives. More than likely some musician will see them somewhere as long as we pass the word along. God be with you both and hope your loss turns out to be a gain and replaced with new things or your old ones are returned to you.

  • Ruby Jane, this is so awful, I am so sorry this happened to you, but I just know know know you will get your fiddle back!!! I’m putting all my good energy out there & I’m sure you & your momma got lots of good juju & your fiddle will be back with you so soon I hope!! Praying for a Christmas miracle for your family!!!

  • Hey now lets put some funds together folks! I suggest Triggerman you create a fund account where we all can submit some holiday cheers to this great kiddo! We can show that thieven’ S.O.B. how insignificant he is. I tell ya what everybody throw in a $20, we get 200 folks with a $20 ya got 4grand. Tell yer mamas, tell yer papas! If we sincerely appreciate this culture of music then we need to contribute. Triggerman whatcha’ say. We pull it off as a Jan. benefit ay in 2012.

    • We got $20 on it!

    • Anybody who wants to make a donation to Ruby Jane can use the SCM Donate button in the right column of the site. All money collected in December will go to Ruby Jane. There is a benefit planned at Victory Grill in Austin on Saturday Dec. 17th from 7-10 PM. If we could put on an additional benefit that would be great.

  • [...] old fiddle prodigy Ruby Jane and her mother JoBelle Smith were carjacked at gunpoint and their vehicle and all of their musical equipment was stolen. Her guitar has been recovered, but [...]

  • [...] DAMN…now they are carjacking??? [...]

  • I feel and have felt your since of not knowing what the outcome was going to be at that ter

    so sorry, have felt the helplessness one endures when such a coward act is preformed at gunpoint. am thanking the two of yous for not attempting to be a hero and i feel strongly the treasures of your loss will be returned. may GOD shed his mercy if only to make you stronger and the more wise..

  • Austin Music Radio (AMR) put a Public Service Announcement (PSA) on-air as soon as we saw it on Twitter. We can only hope that the goods will be found, glad they found the guitar. We will also add an On-Air Promo for the benefit planned at Victory Grill in Austin on Saturday December 17th, from 7-10 PM.

    Keep us posted with pictures, info & benefit plans, as the develop. AMR is here to help out local musicians anyway we can. This terrible event is on the top of our list right now. I hope these thugs get caught & serve significant jail time.

    We are Live & here 24/7 Keep us posted.

    Contact Info: Roger

    [email protected]
    Facebook – Austin Music Radio
    Twitter @AUSMusicRadio
    Cell 512.280.4400

    • The criminal who committed this crime is worthless human waste and deserves to die. A criminal who holds people at gunpoint has absolutely no value to society at all. As a matter of principle I believe that capital punishment is appropriate here. As a practical matter of policy life in prison would be an acceptable alternative. I don’t think “significant jail time” is a strong enough deterrent. Lives are at stake here.

      In an ideal world police would find the attacker, he would start to reach for his gun and get shot dead before he could fire a shot. We can only hope.

      • You don’t think maybe it is worth considering what circumstances lead to the guy commiting the crime? You actually support extra-judicial killings? What a sad world you live in.

        • Gudfala, I am not here to make excuses for armed criminals who attack law abiding people who have done nothing wrong, hold them at gunpoint, and threaten to kill them. I believe in personal responsibility. It’s not society’s fault. It’s not my fault or yours, or Ruby Jane’s fault or her mom’s. It is the criminal’s own fault. The only circumstances that are relevant in this case is that there was an unprovoked attack in which a woman who was minding her own business was forced out of her car with a gun to her head. Whether or not liberals think the gunman is a “victim of society” is not material to this case.

          And no, my comments should not be construed as supporting extrajudicial killings. It is my opinion that capital punishment is justified in this case, if the punishment is imposed in accordance with law and if due process is followed in arriving at a conviction. It is my belief that the Constitution permits the death penalty to be imposed for serious offenses other than murder, including attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, carjacking, armed robbery, acts of terrorism, etc. I am aware that some liberal judicial activists on the Supreme Court disagree with me and thus they have ruled the death penalty unconstitutional for crimes other than murder. Thus it is not possible to impose capital punishment under current legal precedents. While I think the justices have misinterpreted the Eighth Amendment, as I said in my previous comments I think life imprisonment is a reasonable alternative as a practical matter of policy.

          I said that in an ideal world the police would kill him if he reaches for a weapon. As far as I know, that would represent the perfectly legal and justified use of force by law enforcement officers attempting to arrest an armed and dangerous suspect.

          It is also perfectly legal for an armed victim to use deadly force to stop an armed robbery in progress. In the state of Texas it is also legal to shoot an armed robber to death specifically for the purpose of protecting one’s property, even if the attacker is fleeing. Long live Texas.

          None of these scenarios here are outside of the rule of law. And nothing you say will change my strongly held belief that a carjacker who puts a gun to your head is not deserving of life. The existence of this repugnant and dangerous criminal, especially when armed and at large, is incompatible with the public safety and with defending our fundamental rights.

  • I’m wondering why the article says “held at gunpoint?” Sounds like they made the two exit the vehicle at gunpoint, but not “held” at gunpoint. What am I missing here?

    • I find it most curious that after reading this article, that this observation is the one that would make you navigate to the comments section and speak your peace. They had a gun pointed at them, and specifically at JoBelle’s head. I would call that being “held at gunpoint.”

      Beyond this is am quite curious at the amount of comments and emails I’ve gotten on this story arguing semantics, like the fella above complaining about my use of commas of all things. Sorry, if you want corporate news coverage from someone who thumps the Chicago Manual of Style and cares none for the human element of the story, you came to the wrong place. I never called myself a journalist. I report news when nobody else does, and when it is germane to Saving Country Music.

      I stand behind my statements.

  • bushwackin’ carjackers. what’s the world coming to? it’s a cryin’ shame the young lady lost all of her tools. dagnabbit, roy. it makes my blood boil.

  • I felt sick to my stomach reading this. How terrifying for poor Ruby and her mum. I am so grateful neither of them were hurt, although I would imagine the trauma of this might haunt them both for a long time. Just awful. I wish them both the best, and hope Ruby’s gear is recovered too.

  • Alright, Ruby is uber-talented… no doubt about it. But she is still an independent artist who is traveling (apparently) alone with her mom and $50,000 dollars worth of gear! Yikes!!! THAT is a “fool’s move”! Nobody deserves what happened to them, but WHY are they toting around all that custom gear. Leave that stuff home for recording sessions and TV appearances. A $5,000 Gibson 12-string?! Sorry, an 800 dollar Chinese-made Guild sounds just as good in just about any club situation. Either get professional musicians’ insurance or gather up some mid-line gear to take on the road. I, too, have been a victim of equipment theft… fortunately, I had the foresight to leave the mint condition ’54 Gold Top under the bed. The loss of a few $500 guitars is MUCH easier to swallow. Good luck!

    • Stuart,
      I did think our homeowners insurance covered our things. But we dont have a regular housing situation and I was wrong in understanding our policy. Its interesting that you think we are fools when you dont know us or the facts. Also we arent the only professional working musicians and artists to offer our best to the audiences who pay to hear and see music. A bit of studying on instruments and the various levels of quality of sound they produce is always a good study. Quality and cost dont always correspond but Ruby Jane tries to give her best in performance in every aspect. This is a tragedy for us and dont consider ourselves fools in any respect.

  • Go to and register these insts.Its free

  • [...] she was leaving Dosey Doe up in The Woodlands with her mother; they were held up at gunpoint, and the thief stole their SUV and everything in it, including all of Ruby’s merch and — worst of all — her instruments, including a [...]

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