Ron Rudin’s murder and the controversial conviction of his wife Margaret for the killing is the subject of this episode of The Perfect Murder.
December 18, 1994, in Las Vegas and wealthy real estate businessman Ronald Rudin, 64, went missing after leaving his office to visit another shop in the same mall.
Just over a month later his burned body was found close to Lake Mojave. An autopsy revealed he’d been shot at least four times in the head, with the gun being identified as .22 caliber.
Detectives moved to search his home and there they discovered blood splatter and later a bloody mattress. A few years later, in July 1996, a gun belonging to Rod was found in Lake Mead. It matched the caliber of the murder weapon and it was also one he had reported missing shortly after he was married to Margaret.
In 1997, the state moved to charge Margaret with murder, but by then she had fled the state. It was over two years before she was recognised by a local who saw her photo on America’s Most Wanted. She was arrested in Massachusetts and the sent back to Nevada.
At her trial in 2001 the prosecutor told the jury that Margaret had murdered Ron when she found out he was looking for a divorce, he was her fifth husband. Her defense team argued that Ron was involved in many illegal activities and deal, and it was one of these that had led to his death.
The jury were not convinced by the defense’s version of event and Margaret was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison, with parole only possible after 20 years.
Since her conviction Margaret has filed numerous appeals, saying that she was denied effective council during her trial. Her 2002 appeal was denied, but in 2008 a new judge ruled that Margaret’s lawyers were not ready for trial.
However, in 2010 the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the ruling of the lesser court and denied Margaret another trial.
In 2011, Margaret again filed an appeal and this time it was denied on the basis that she had not filed it at the right time. This decision led to an appeal to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The three judges gave their ruling in 2014 and it was a split decision. They ruled to dismiss Margaret’s appeal, but they acknowledged there were problems with both the defense and the prosecution. The court released a conclusion that said they were “troubled” by many factors regarding the case.
Part of the statement read: “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.”
However, this was not the end of the matter and in 2015 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals withdrew that opinion and issued a new one saying that Margaret should be given a new trial.
This was challenged by the attorney general of Nevada in 2016, but his petition was denied by the United States Supreme Court.
The Perfect Murder – Vanished in Vegas airs at 9:00 PM on Investigation Discovery.