The Black Widow of Las Vegas

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Ronald Rudin was born November 13th, 1930 in Chicago, which is where he grew up.

He was an Army vet and decided to go to Las Vegas where he saw great potential as they were going through a major shift during that time. This is where he made his fortune, brokering real estate deals. All his hard work paid off, Ron was an extremely successful realtor in Las Vegas, in fact, Ron was a millionaire and was known as a real estate mogul

He was known as a caring landlord who would allow tenants to be behind in rent without evicting them. Ronald took his security very seriously and had systems in place to protect both himself and his tenants. He was a private person who was obsessed with working but at the same time valued his privacy. One quote I found stated that Ronald “treasured his privacy, yet he also had an eye for the ladies. I would say that Ron Ronald was a loner who didn’t want to be alone.”

Ronald was married five times! In 1971, Ronald married Caralynne Johnson, this marriage didn’t last too long and they got a divorce in 1975. While visiting a realtor friend’s office, Ronald met Peggy who was a secretary there. Friends were surprised and insinuated that Peggy was not Ronald’s normal type, she was gentle and sweet, and Ronald usually went for the wild and vibrant woman. It was said that Peggy was the woman Ronald truly loved the most.

Unfortunately, on December 20th, 1978 Peggy killed herself. She shot herself in the head with a high caliber handgun in the master bedroom of the home that they shared together.

Her death took a toll on Ronald, a friend said that he had fresh flowers put on her grave every week for a year after she died.

He then moved on to wife number four, her name was Karen Carmany. Then, in 1987 Ronald marries his 5th wife, Margret Frost. They had met at church and she was described as outgoing, vivacious, very sociable and dressed nicely. Margret had also been married 4 times before and was 12 years Ronald's junior.

Friends said that after they were married, there was trouble. Here's a quote from one of their friends “There was a lot of obsession, a lot of distrust. There's a lot of suspicions. There's a lot of jealousy. But they are also very very close at the same time.”

Ronald kept Margret at arm's length, not even telling her how much money he had. Margret didn't like it.

They seemed to have extreme arguments, a gun was even fired once although no one was hurt and no charges were filed. It was later found that Margret had wiretapped his phone and this is where she found he was having an affair

On December 18th, 1994, Ronald vanished. Ron was an extremely punctual man and he always arrived on time to work. When he didn't show up, his employees were concerned and reported it. One of his friends even recalls a phone call he made with his wife once he heard the news that Ron didn't show up for work, he said “Margret did something to Ron”

He was last seen walking to Margarets antique store which was located in the same strip mall as Ronald's realtor office. Margret didn't report Ron missing until December 20th.

She said Ronald had been acting strangely in the days before he disappeared. He had made a big real estate transaction without telling his partner and that he pulled phone records out of his secretary’s notes.

Around this time, Margret hired a handyman to remodel the master bedroom. Seems random...

In January of 1995, a fisherman found a charred skull and other remains on the shore of Lake Mohave which is about 45 miles away from Las Vegas. The head had been decapitated and the body was found in a trunk. Along with the body, police discovered a gold bracelet that said Ron, the remains were later identified as Ronald Rudin’s.

The coroner reported that Ronald had died from multiple gunshot wounds to his head.

When she found out how he had died, Margret said, and I quote “it’s beyond my comprehension. I can’t imagine that would have actually happened to him”

The initial search of the house revealed nothing, the detective Phil Ramos said but things kept pointing back to Margret. On January 25th 1995 Ramos got a phone call from a man named Augustine Lavato, the handyman that had been hired by Margret to redo the master bedroom. He said that he had removed the carpet and removed a soiled mattress and that he had seen red specs on a glamour shot of Margret that was hanging over the bed

He also handed over a box which Margret had instructed him to mail to her mother

The box contained love notes and a picture of a man named Yehuda Sharon. It appeared that Sharon and Margret were having an affair and that he had possibly played a part in the disappearance of Ronald as he had rented a large van around the time he went missing.

Detectives issued a search warrant for the home that Ronald and Margret lived in together, the same home he had lived in with his previous wives. While doing the search they sprayed luminol in the master bedroom and discovered blood spatter. Investigators were excited as they believed that they had found the location of the murder, however, one of the investigators started to feel like he had been in that house before. Turns out he had. He had investigated the death of Ronald's third wife, Peggy. That meant that it was difficult to prove that the blood was from Ronald or Peggy. The police believed that Ronald had been shot several times while he was sleeping, brought to the desert in the hunchback trunk and burned.

Margret tried to access her $6 million dollar share of Ronalds $11 million fortune but settled with trustees of his estate for about $500,000 after they sued her to try and prove that she played a role in his death.

A few years after Ronald's death, in July 1996 a gun was found in Lake Mead, it matched the murder weapon that caused Ronald's death. After checking the serial number, they found that the gun actually belonged to Ronald and had been reported missing shortly after his marriage to Margret. Police now wanted Margret but she was gone.

They said that she slipped through authorities' hands in Pheonix in 1998 and that she had changed her appearance. This might not be the exact date but I believe on June 7th, 1997 Americas Most Wanted did a segment on Margret and someone in Massachusetts recognized and she was arrested and sent back to Nevada to face a jury.

In 2001 her trial started, although prosecutors believed Margret had help in the killing of her husband, there was a lot of evidence stacked on her:

- The Trunk: An antique dealer, named Bruce Honabach, claimed that he had sold a humpback trunk to Margret, he claimed that this was the same trunk that had been found with the charred remains of Ron. Bruce also claimed that Margret had told him repeatedly that she wished her husband were dead. At almost the end of the trial, however, the man who Bruce claimed he purchased the trunk from said that it had never happened and Bruce had no proof of the sale.

- Margarets Behavior before the death: Margaret's sister Donna stated that Margret was more concerned about Ronald's finances than she was about his disappearance.

She said that on Christmas day, a week after Ronald disappeared, she hired a locksmith to open Ron's office so she could go through his financial records. Margaret's excuse for this was that the trustees of Ronald's estate had already started to shut her out and she wanted to get access to his assets.

-The Directive: Ronald had been concerned for his safety and worried that he would be killed for his money. His attorney had added a directive to his will requesting that in the case of violent death, a full investigation be conducted. He singled out Marget as a potential threat. There was even a phone call between Ronald and his friend John Reuther that he had found a piece of paper where Margret was writing out how she would split the money and estate with her family. Ronald was very nervous for his safety. His lawyer stated that she suggested he name Margret in the directive, but he said he didn't want to upset Margret in the case of her not being involved with his death. Margret, of course, denied that he was scared of her.

The prosecution claimed that Margret killed Ronald because she had found out he was interested in a divorce and had been having an affair, although Margret denied this. She said, “I don't have a history of staying with somebody if I’m really unhappy, I have a history of divorcing.”

She also stated that the affair had not upset her and she wouldn’t have killed him because of this. She said “You know why? Its because 99 percent of the men that I've ever had in my life had affairs. Ninety percent of men do, you might as well expect it”

The defense claimed that Margret had not killed her husband and that Ronald was in fact involved in illegal activities and that one of these had lead to his death. One of Ronald's friends, Jerry Stump, denied that he was involved in any shady business, he said “The kind of people who stopped by Ron’s office were mayors, police officials, and FBI agents - all of whom were his friends. He was a member of the Junior Chamber for gosh sakes. I don't buy that mob bull for one minute.”

The jury didn't buy it either and Margret was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison with parole only possible after 20 years. There were lots of back and forths on whether Margret should be given a new trial, on grounds that she had an inadequate council.

That brings us to January 10th, 2020. Margret was released from prison.

Upon hearing the news, a friend of Ron’s, John Ruether, said: “I dont think she should ever get out, for any reason."

Other friends declined to be interviewed on camera for fear of what Margret might do.

To this day Margret claims her innocence and said she had nothing to do with her husbands death “To all rich men out there, you could be next. “ a quote from John Ruethers daughter Patty.

Margret is 76 and plans to live with relatives in Los Vegas and get her bachelors defree

She was said to be a model prisoner who stood up for woman inmates and their rights.

Rudin sued Nevada Department of Corrections in 2018 claiming abuse, misconduct, and sexism because female inmates dont get the same access to programs for aging prisioners as men do.

References:

1. "Dead Realtor." Elko Daily Free Press, 26 Jan. 1995.

2. "Widow of Businessman Disappears." Reno Gazette-Journal, 5 Feb. 1995.

3. "Ron Rudin's Murder by his Wife Margret focus of The Perfect Murder." Monsters & Critics, edited by James Wray, www.monstersandcritics.com/smallscreen/ron-rudins-murder-by-his-wife-margaret-rudin-spotlighted/.

4. "Margret Rudin." Murderpedia, murderpedia.org/female.R/r/rudin-margaret.htm.

5. Ritter, Ken. "Black Widow Murderer Free after 20 years." The Detroit News, www.detroitnews.com/story/news/nation/2020/01/10/black-widow-killer-free-after-20-years/40974677/.

6. "FINALE: Black Widow Margret Rudin Shares Her plans for release from Prison ." KTNV Las Vegas, edited by Joe Bartels, www.ktnv.com/13-investigates/some-terrified-as-infamous-killer-margaret-rudin-is-set-for-release-from-prison.

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