‘Black Widow’ files lawsuit against state of Nevada after conviction for murdering husband overturned

Socialite Margaret Rudin found guilty of Ron Rudin’s killing in 2001 and spent two decades behind bars before being freed by federal judge

Joe Sommerlad
Monday 06 May 2024 17:25 BST
Murder conviction of ‘Black Widow’ Margaret Rudin vacated

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Louise Thomas

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An antiques store owner who became known as “The Black Widow of Las Vegas” when she was convicted of the murder of her millionaire husband has filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit against the state of Nevada after being freed by a federal judge.

Margaret Rudin, now 80, was accused of shooting real estate developer Ron Rudin in the head with a .22 caliber pistol while he slept before dumping his body in the desert in the hope of enriching herself by his death.

She maintained her innocence but was found guilty of murder on 2 May 2001 and subsequently sentenced to life in prison.

Then, after more than two decades behind bars at the Florence McClure Correctional Center for Women in North Las Vegas – which she spent fighting tirelessly to clear her name – US district court judge Richard Boulware finally ruled on 22 May 2022 that her conviction should be vacated.

The justice found that Ms Rudin’s initial defence counsel, the late Michael Amador, had been ineffective and compromised by conflicts of interest and the case against her highly flawed.

After being released, she told The Daily Mail: “You think of your kids, your grandkids and think, I don’t want them to believe that [I’m guilty].

“So, I kept fighting, did every appeal I could do while hoping some wonderful attorney would come along, take it on, work on it and eventually win.”

Ron Rudin – Ms Rudin’s fourth husband, whom she met in church but later found to have a drinking problem – first vanished on 18 December 1994.

His car was found in the parking lot of a Nevada strip club known as the Crazy Horse Too shortly after he was reported missing and, a month later, his burned remains were discovered at Nelson’s Landing near Boulder City, a popular hiking destination in the Eldorado Mountains.

Despite consistently denying involvement in the disappearance, Rudin’s wife was indicted in 1997, at which point she went on the run to Mexico and evaded the authorities for two years using a string of aliases and assumed identities before being apprehended in Massachusetts in October 1999.

Margaret Rudin seen in her prison mugshot
Margaret Rudin seen in her prison mugshot (Nevada Department of Corrections )

Now absolved of wrongdoing and seeking restitution, Ms Rudin’s attorney’s wrote in a statement announcing the lawsuit that her late husband “had a long list of enemies from a complicated personal life, a known history of dubious business dealings and ties to criminal elements”.

They also allege that the club outside which his car was found was known to have connections to organised crime.

Of the initial investigation that cast Ms Rudin as chief suspect, her attorneys said it had been impacted by “salacious media stories and wild theories”.

“There was never any evidence such as fingerprints, DNA or eyewitnesses connecting Margaret Rudin to Ron Rudin’s murder,” they wrote.

“However, inexperienced homicide detectives focused on Margaret Rudin from the beginning in a biased police investigation.

“Today in her early 80s, Margaret Rudin intends to prove, under a Nevada statute amended in 2019 to address the rights of persons wrongfully convicted, that she was not involved either directly or indirectly in her husband’s death and did not commit the crime.”

Now living in Illinois, Ms Rudin is seeking – according to her legal representatives – a certificate asserting her innocence, compensation for the ordeal she endured, that her attorney’s fees and legal expenses be covered and “all other relief that the court may deem just and proper”.

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