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Bruce RICH

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - To collect insurance money
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: December 23, 1995
Date of birth: 1949
Victims profile: Irving and Blanche Rich (his parents)
Method of murder: Shooting (.25 caliber semiautomatic pistol)
Location: Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on March 22, 2000
 
 
 
 
 
 

Florida man convicted of murdering parents for fortune, avoids death penalty

CourtTV.com

March 23, 2000

MIAMI (Court TV) A Florida man accused of killing his parents so that he could get out of financial debt was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Bruce Rich, 51, could have been sentenced to death. The 12-panel Florida jury was evenly deadlocked on Rich's punishment, giving Rich life without parole by default. Prosecutors believed Rich killed his parents for their life insurance policy and will and tried to make their deaths look like a murder-suicide. But investigators were skeptical about Irving and Blanche Rich's alleged murder-suicide from almost the very beginning.

The crime scene just didn't fit a murder-suicide. On the morning of Dec. 23, 1995, Bruce Rich, called police and told them that he had just found his parents dead in their bed. He told them that his parents had been shot and that the gun used was still in his mother's mouth.

Though the victims were killed by Blanche Rich's own .25 caliber semiautomatic pistol, police dismissed the murder-suicide theory. Both victims suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head. In addition, there were no signs of forced entry and nothing was removed from the premises. Detectives began to believe the killing was a homicide made to resemble a murder-suicide, and they began to focus on the sole benefactor of his parents' life insurance policy and will, Bruce Rich.

At the time of his parents' death, Rich was approximately $105,000 in debt. He owed $25,000 to the IRS and over $51,000 to various business creditors. He had just moved back in with his parents because of his financial problems. His parents' life insurance policy was worth approximately $25,000. In their will, Irving and Blanche Rich also left Bruce their house, which was valued at approximately $220,000. Bruce, prosecutors say, had hoped that a personal injury award in a civil suit would bail him out of his debt. But the award only covered his medical expenses. Desperate, Rich, prosecutors say, resorted to what he thought was his only way out of debt &3151; killing his elderly parents.

According to Florida prosecutors, Bruce Rich shot his parents to death in the early morning hours of Dec. 23, 1995. The prosecution believes that he shot his father twice before shooting his mother four times. Rich, prosecutors say, used the final shot to make the killings look like a murder-suicide. Rich allegedly placed the gun in his mortally wounded mother's hand, then put the gun in her mouth and then pulled the trigger.

Physical evidence helped prosecutors disprove the murder-suicide theory and implicate Bruce Rich in his parents' murder. A state medical examiner testified that two of the four head wounds were incapacitating, eliminating any ability she would have had to put the gun in her mouth and pull the trigger. According to the medical examiner, the victims died around 2:00 a.m., which was supported by the claims of a neighbor who said she heard what she thought were firecrackers around that time.

A state forensics expert also found that a crown was missing from Blanche Rich's mouth and suspected that it was knocked out by one of the gunshots. That crown was discovered in one of Bruce Rich's sneakers in his bedroom. In addition, a prison cellmate, Efren Boone, claimed Bruce Rich confessed to the murders while kept in a Dade County jail.

Bruce Rich denied any involvement in his parents' death. He claimed that he was at the movies watching "Casino" at the time of the killing and could not have committed the murders. The movie was over three hours long, beginning at 11:35 p.m. and ending 2:40 a.m. Rich claims he returned to his parents' home after the movie and went straight to bed. He insisted he woke up before 7 the next morning and did not see his parents at all. Rich ran some errands for a few hours and says he found his parents dead when he returned at 10 a.m.

Prosecutors did not deny the Rich bought an 11:35 pm ticket for "Casino." However, they argued that he left before the end of the movie, returned to his parents home [which was in a gated community] without being seen, and murdered them. Then, the prosecution claimed, he left the apartment complex again, unseen, and returned at around 3 a.m. and made sure security guards would log him in so that he could establish a false alibi.

Investigators noted that Rich quickly produced his movie ticket stub without being asked to produce an alibi. He also claimed that because of his parents' Jewish faith, they could not be subjected to an autopsy. However, Florida law allows investigators to put aside religious faith in suspected murder cases.

Bruce Rich's attorneys claimed the prosecution's case is entirely circumstantial. They downplayed the discovery of Blanche Rich's crown by pointing to allegedly shoddy police work and claiming that investigators contaminated the crime scene and evidence. The defense suggested the crown may have been inadvertently dropped in Rich's sneaker by investigators. Defense lawyers also argued that Rich's cellmate, Boone, is a liar and has no credibility.

The defense also argued that Irving and Blanche Rich were not wealthy or at least not wealthy enough for someone, especially their son, to want to kill them. The defense claimed Rich's parents were extremely depressed because their manufacturing business was losing money. Bruce, defense lawyers argued, was their savior because he had presented them with a manufacturing idea before their deaths that would have saved them from financial ruin.

Bryan Robinson

 
 


Bruce Rich's parents.

 

Bruce Rich

 

 

 
 
 
 
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