Updated January 10, 2020 - 3:17 pm
Hours after she was paroled Friday, Margaret Rudin said she still wants to be exonerated in her husband’s 1994 shooting death.
The appeal of her murder conviction continues.
“I want to be free to travel if I choose to on a passport,” Rudin told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in her first interview after her release from prison. “I want to be able to vote. I want to be able to do all the things I was able to do before Ron was murdered. And I did not do it.”
Some two decades after being convicted of killing her millionaire husband, Rudin walked out of the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in northeast Las Vegas early Friday morning. She visited the Review-Journal later that morning and gave an interview.
She was granted parole in October. Now that she is out of prison, she said she is pursuing the goal of clearing her name. She said she’s optimistic her murder conviction will one day be tossed.
Rudin, now 76, said she plans to write books about her case and the time she spent incarcerated. If those books generate income, she said, she’s going to use it to offer a financial reward that she hopes will help vindicate her and solve the case.
“I am going to offer rewards for who will come forward,” she said. “Who will say something now? Who is going to benefit from the reward is probably going to determine a lot more evidence that hasn’t been brought out before. And I do blame, more than anyone, the Las Vegas police department. There was a lot of ‘testi-lying.’ There are a lot of things I intend to bring out and prove.”
Retired Metropolitan Police Department Detective Phil Ramos investigated Rudin’s case with Detective James Vaccaro. On Friday, Ramos said the evidence against Rudin is clear and convincing.
“It is my view she is 100 percent guilty,” he said. “No doubt about it.”
Ramos said police gathered a lot of evidence against her. Police believe her husband, Ron, was killed so that she could inherit his millions. Ramos said Margaret Rudin’s stoic reactions after her husband’s death sparked suspicion.
Police said Ron Rudin was readying to divorce his wife when he was shot in his sleep. Police interviewed a handyman who said Margaret Rudin hired him to clean up a bloody mattress and carpet from the couple’s home.
And police said remnants of an antique trunk were found with Ron Rudin’s remains. Ramos said police proved Margaret Rudin purchased the trunk.
“She’s never addressed the science, never addressed the evidence, never addressed the cleaning up of the bedroom,” Ramos said.
Margaret Rudin’s attorney, Greg Mullanax, picked his client up at the sally port of the prison early Friday. Mullanax read a statement to a large assemblage of reporters and television camera crews.
“It has been kind of a traumatic experience for her, so she’s happy to get out,” he said. “She just wants to get out and get as far away as she can.”
Mullanax reiterated the defense stance that Margaret Rudin was improperly convicted.
He called the trial that resulted in her conviction “a fraud and a sham.”
“Margaret Rudin is innocent,” the attorney said. “We are still fighting for her innocence. We are hoping that the federal court will grant her a new trial.”
Ron Rudin disappeared in December 1994. The real estate developer’s burned remains were found in January 1995 near Nelson’s Landing at Lake Mohave. Authorities said he was shot in the head as he slept in the couple’s Las Vegas home.
Margaret Rudin came under suspicion almost immediately from Las Vegas detectives. She was indicted on a murder charge in April 1997 in what authorities said was a crime committed for financial gain. Before she could be arrested, though, she fled Las Vegas and remained on the run until she was apprehended in Revere, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1999.
The case received national media attention. The television show “America’s Most Wanted” featured it repeatedly, dubbing Margaret Rudin a “black widow.”
In May 2001, she was convicted of first-degree murder by a Clark County jury and sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole.
Margaret Rudin said she always held strong to her belief she would one day get out of prison.
“Probably the one thing that helped the most was I was religious when I went in,” she said.
She said she attended Central Christian Church before her incarceration and relied on her faith to get through the rough times.
“It’s not easy to say that there were moments when I doubted or there were moments I was angry, which I was at times,” she said. “But most of the time it was, ‘I’m going to get out of this. I’m going to get through this. I’m going to be proven innocent,’ and I never gave up that faith.”
Margaret Rudin said the hardest part of the past two decades was aging in prison, and she plans to advocate for better health care for incarcerated women, “particularly senior citizens.”
She said she will move to the Chicago area in the short term to live with her daughter, granddaughter and great-grandchildren.
“It is going to be four generations in one house, and I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.
Margaret Rudin said she may eventually move to the southeastern United States.
“Tentatively, the next move is going to be Nashville, Tennessee,” she said.