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Cuyahoga County man sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a 94-year-old World War II veteran

"This barbaric crime should keep Michael Dudas in prison for the remainder of his life," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley.
Credit: Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office
Mugshot of Michael Dudas from 2004

CLEVELAND — On Tuesday, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley announced the sentencing of 42-year-old Michael Dudas, who pleaded guilty to the murder of a 94-year-old World War II veteran in April of 2020. 

According to Prosecutor O'Malley, Dudas has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Charles Vonderau, of Old Brooklyn. 

“Mr. Charles Vonderau was a World War II veteran and a treasure to his family and the Old Brooklyn community,” said Prosecutor O’Malley. “This barbaric crime should keep Michael Dudas in prison for the remainder of his life.” 

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On April 15, Mr. Vonderau's daughter contacted Cleveland Police to request a welfare check on her father, who she had not heard from in days. When CPD arrived, they found Mr. Vonderau unresponsive, and shortly declared the 94-year-old deceased. 

The Medical Examiner's Officer ruled the cause of death to be a homicide by blunt force trauma.

After a thorough investigation, CPD was able to link the suspect to the crime through DNA evidence, credit-card transactions, and video footage. 

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Dudas struck the victim's head and body multiple times with a hammer, with defensive wounds found on the victim's hands. He then stole Mr. Vonderau's credit cards and fled the scene, disposing of the hammer on a neighbor's roof. 

A hospital band found in the victim's home, as well as video and bank records identified Dudas as the person of interest, and the suspect was arrested and charged on April 18 by the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force. 

Dudas plead guilty to one count of Aggravated Murder, one count of Aggravated Robbery, and two counts of Misuse of credit cards. 

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