Margaret Rudin (born Margaret Lee Frost; May 31, 1943) is an American woman convicted of the December 1994 murder of her husband, Las Vegas real estate magnate Ronald Rudin. She was incarcerated at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rudin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, one of three daughters. The family moved frequently, and before graduating from high school, Rudin had lived in 15 states. Rudin had married four times before meeting Ronald Rudin at the First Church of Religious Science in Las Vegas. The couple wed on September 11, 1987.
Murder and investigation
Ronald Rudin disappeared on December 18, 1994 after walking to Margaret's antique shop which was in the same strip mall as his real estate office. On January 21, 1995, his charred dismembered remains were discovered near Lake Mojave along with the burnt remains of an antique steamer trunk. He had been shot in the head at least four times with a .22 caliber gun. Police later searched the Rudin residence and found blood spatter in the bedroom as well as semen on the floor that had been removed from the home. On July 21, 1996 a .22 caliber Ruger handgun was found in Lake Mead and was traced back to Ron Rudin. The handgun was later confirmed to be the murder weapon. Ron Rudin had reported the gun missing in 1988, shortly after he married Margaret.
Flight, arrest, and trial
On April 18, 1997, the grand jury handed down a murder indictment against Margaret, but by this time, she had left the state. She spent the next 2 1/2 years in hiding until she was arrested in Massachusetts in November 1999 and was extradited to Nevada to face murder charges in the death of her husband. Margaret Rudin went on trial on March 2, 2001. Her defense claimed that her husband was killed due to illegal activities he was involved in. The prosecutor argued Margaret killed her husband to prevent him from divorcing her and losing what she would inherit from his estate. She was found guilty on May 2, 2001, and on August 31 she was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years.
In 2002, the Nevada Supreme Court denied Margaret Rudin's appeal, finding she was not denied effective assistance of counsel. As of 2008, no record of federal collateral review could be found.
In 2008, Rudin was given a new trial. Clark County District Judge Sally Loehrer ruled that lawyers for Margaret Rudin, then 65 years old, were not prepared to defend her at her 2001 trial, according to lawyers on both sides of the case. She also ruled that Michael Amador, Rudin's lead attorney at the time, was not effective, according to Christopher Oram, Rudin's new attorney.
KLTV-8 News reported on May 10, 2010 that the Nevada Supreme Court ruled against convicted Rudin and ruled she would not get another trial. The lower appeals court's ruling was overturned, and the original conviction stood.
On April 26, 2011, the Las Vegas Sun reported that Margaret Rudin had filed a habeas corpus petition in federal court seeking a new trial and reversal of her conviction based on ineffective assistance of trial counsel, impermissible hearsay testimony, faulty jury instructions and other points.
On January 25, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Roger L. Hunt dismissed Margaret Rudin's federal habeas corpus case with prejudice. In a nine-page decision, Judge Hunt found that Rudin's federal petition was not filed in a timely manner. The ruling paves way for an appeal to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
On September 10, 2014, in a split decision by a three-judge panel, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's order dismissing Rudin's federal habeas corpus case despite what it acknowledged to be serious issues with her representation and prosecution, both pre- and post-conviction. The court deemed that it was compelled to deny her petition, and it acknowledged that it was "troubled" by the case. Excerpts from the Opinion's Conclusion:
We are troubled by the outcome of this case for many reasons. Margaret Rudin's direct appeal and collateral review proceedings have been pending in either state or federal court for a combined total of 13 years. She has potentially meritorious claims that she has suffered prejudice at the hands of her own attorneys' egregious misconduct. Yet she has never had an opportunity to present those claims in court.
Rudin's defense counsel, Amador, indisputably engaged in egregious professional misconduct during the course of her underlying criminal trial. On direct appeal of her judgment of conviction, the Nevada Supreme Court acknowledged that Rudin's trial was plagued not only with inadequacies on the part of defense counsel, but also with prosecutorial misconduct and legal error on the part of the State and the court. Although two members of the Nevada Supreme Court found the record sufficiently clear as to the "inherent prejudice created by [trial counsel]" to require immediate reversal of Rudin's judgment of conviction, a majority of the court declined to address the effect of those errors, finding them more appropriate for resolution on collateral review.
[A]t this point, Rudin is still in prison, having served 13 years of her life sentence for murder. We know from the state post-conviction court that the State's "proof of guilt [at that trial] was not a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination." We also know from the post-conviction court that, had Rudin been represented by competent counsel, the jury's verdict may have been different. Thus, what we do not know is whether Rudin is lawfully imprisoned. And, regrettably, that is something we may never know.
On March 10, 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals withdrew its opinion of September 10, 2014 and issued a revised opinion affirming the trial court's decision that Rudin was entitled to a new trial as a direct result of the professional misconduct and prejudicial conflict of interest by Michael Amador, her original trial lawyer.
On February 29, 2016 the United States Supreme Court denied a petition by the attorney general of Nevada challenging the Ninth Circuit's ruling.
Margaret Rudin was released on parole from the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in North Las Vegas on January 10, 2020. She told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she intended to relocate to Chicago to be closer to her daughter, granddaughter and great-grandchildren, and that she was "optimistic her murder conviction will one day be tossed." She was 76 years old at release.
"If I Die...: A True Story of Obsessive Love, Uncontrollable Greed, and Murder" by Michael Fleeman, while detailing the case against Rudin, the hunt authorities endeavored in her capture is also detailed; ISBN 9781429904292, published: 2007, 324 pages.
"Black Widow: The True Story of Margaret Rudin" by Brianna Valdes, Rudin's attorneys claimed that involvement in illegal activities led to Ron's death; ISBN 9781539041528, published: September 2016, 84 pages.
Court TV's (now TruTV) crime documentary series Mugshots interviewed Rudin inside a Las Vegas, Nevada prison. In the episode, Rudin said she was innocent and that the district attorney had unjustly charged her. The A&E Network series American Justice also released an episode (season 6; episode 11) about her case, titled "The Black Widow of Vegas".
Additional television shows reported on Margaret Rudin, "Snapped: Margaret Rudin (2007)" season 5; episode 5, on the Oxygen channel; a full CBS 48 Hours episode, "Murder in Las Vegas: Did She Do it?" in November 2001 and "Forensic Files" – Season 9; Episode 27 "For Love or Money".
20/20 aired an episode from season 43 titled "Five Weddings and a Murder" on February 19, 2021
- Las Vegas Review-Journal, "The Similarities: Older man, younger woman," January 1, 2001
- People magazine, "Till Death Did Them Part," by Peter Ames Carlin, March 6, 2000
- State v. Rudin, 86 P.3d 572 (Nv Sup.Ct. 2004)
- Kihara, David (2008-12-19). "Rudin to get new trial". 'ReviewJournal.com. Retrieved 2009-05-09. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "No New Trial for Margaret Rudin". KLTV-8 News, 8newsnow.com. 2010-05-10. Retrieved 2010-07-04. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Margaret Rudin seeking new appeal". Las Vegas Sun, lasvegasun.com. 2011-04-26. Retrieved 2011-04-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Washington Examiner, "Federal judge rejects Vegas 'black widow' appeal," January 25, 2012[permanent dead link]
- Opinion from Ninth Circuit website http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2014/09/10/12-15362.pdf
- Revised Opinion by the Ninth Circuit "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-04-14. Retrieved 2016-03-06. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Puit, Glenn (10 January 2020). "'I did not do it,' convicted killer Margaret Rudin says in first interview after release". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 11 January 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Fleeman, Michael (1 April 2007). If I Die...: A True Story of Obsessive Love, Uncontrollable Greed, and Murder. Macmillan. ISBN 9781429904292. Retrieved 30 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Valdes, Brianna (23 September 2016). "Black Widow: The True Story of Margaret Rudin". Barnes & Noble. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Retrieved 17 December 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Valdes, Brianna (23 September 2016). Black Widow: The True Story of Margaret Rudin. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 9781539041528. Retrieved 17 December 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Marlowe, John. "Evil Women : Deadlier Than the Male - by John Marlowe". target.com. Baker & Taylor Pub Serv. Retrieved 30 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Marlowe, John (11 July 2017). Evil Women. Arcturus Publishing. ISBN 9781788284660. Retrieved 30 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- ""Mugshots Ep 6 Margaret Rudin's Revenge" Free | Snagfilms". Parco International. Retrieved 20 April 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "FilmRise MUGSHOTS: Margaret Rudin". filmrise.com. Retrieved 20 April 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "American Justice - The Black Widow of Vegas". play.google.com. A&E Network. 15 October 2002. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
A clue buried in a wealthy man's will leads police to his killer.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Snapped: Margaret Rudin". TVGuide.com. Oxygen. 27 May 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Willis, Stacy J. (31 December 2008). "From courtroom to bookshelf". LasVegasSun.com. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
Vegas cases have resulted in books and TV moviesCS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Forensic Files - Season 9 Ep 27 "For Love or Money"". FilmRise. MMV Medstar Television. Retrieved 19 October 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Jordan, Michael (19 January 2005). "Forensic Files: For Love or Money". imdb.com. Retrieved 19 October 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Beyond Reasonable Doubt: "Murder in Vegas" Episode Review". Criminal Element. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Wray, James (13 September 2018). "Ron Rudin's murder by his wife Margaret focus of The Perfect Murder". Monsters and Critics. Retrieved 1 December 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Vanished in Vegas | The Perfect Murder". investigationdiscovery.com. Discovery Communications, LLC. Retrieved 1 December 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)