Michael Dudas Cleveland, Ohio man sentenced to life after beating Charles Vonderau, 94, former WW2 veteran to death with a hammer.
An affliction he couldn’t contain.
An Ohio man who admitted to fatally beating a World War II veteran with a hammer during a home invasion was sentenced to life in prison in what prosecutors described as a ‘barbaric’ crime.
Michael Dudas, 42, pleaded guilty Tuesday to attacking 94-year-old Charles Vonderau on April 15 inside the elderly vet’s Cleveland home, where DNA evidence, bank records and video surveillance tied Dudas to the slaying, according to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.
Vonderau was found dead in the city’s Old Brooklyn section when his daughter called Cleveland cops to request a welfare check after not hearing from him for several days. Police discovered the Navy vet who served on the USS Bangust warship in the Pacific during World War II deceased inside, prosecutors said.
The Medical Examiner’s Officer ruled the cause of death to be a homicide by blunt force trauma WKYC reported.
Left to die on the floor of his own home covered in blood
An investigation revealed Dudas, of Parma, striking Vonderau several times with a hammer, hitting him on the head and body. Defensive wounds were also found on the vet’s hands, prosecutors said.
Dudas proceeded to steal Vonderau’s credit cards and tossed the hammer on the roof of a neighbor’s home. Investigators later recovered the tool and found DNA evidence at the crime scene connecting Dudas to the slaying.
An identification band from a hospital belonging to Dudas was also found on Vonderau’s kitchen floor, prosecutors said.
Of note, the victim’s murder followed Dudas having been released from a drug treatment center at a Cleveland hospital earlier that day, Cleveland.com reported.
It wasn’t clear what drugs Dudas was hooked on and how long he came to be in treatment or how he came to be released – or what led to the man being put into treatment, whether of his own volition or court sanctioned.
Surveillance video and bank records revealed that Dudas used Vonderau’s credit cards to run up charges until April 18 when he was arrested by the US Marshals at a Cleveland restaurant, prosecutors said.
Offered Dudas to the victim’s family — who had sought the harshest penalty possible — before sentencing, ‘I would change my life if I could, from the bottom of my heart I’m very sorry, my apologies.’
Dudas — who pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and misuse of credit cards was sentenced to 29 1/2 years in prison by Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Nancy Russo.
Dudas will have to spend at least 25 years in prison before he’s eligible for parole Cleveland19 reported.
‘Mr. Charles Vonderau was a World War II veteran and a treasure to his family and the Old Brooklyn community,’ Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said. ‘This barbaric crime should keep Michael Dudas in prison for the rest of his life.’
Adding, ‘This senseless killing – of a man who served our nation during a time when we needed him most – is truly tragic.’
Vonderau — who was married nearly 51 years to his late wife, Nellie — owned a paint store in Lakewood after serving in the Pacific. He then worked at Koehler Rubber & Supply Company in Cleveland for 20 years until retiring in 1987, according to his obit.
‘Mr. Vonderau liked to do jigsaw puzzles, play Scrabble and he loved watching the Browns [and] Indians, and watching old movies,’ the obituary read. ‘He leaves behind many neighborhood friends.’