Kill them all, Carl. Whatever it takes.
~ Rudnick talking to himself about his own murders

Dr. Carl Rudnick was a medical examiner on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit who was later discovered to be a serial killer and rapist. He is based on accused murderer Robert Durst.

He was portrayed by Jefferson Mays.



Carl Rudnick comes from a wealthy family. He attended medical school at Duke University along with Greg Yates, who was a friend of his. Beneath his mild-mannered, "odd duck" exterior, Rudnick is a psychopath who derives sadistic pleasure from raping, murdering, and dissecting women. He is also a cross-dresser.

In 2002, he dated an exchange student from Switzerland named Lena Grunwald and eventually got engaged to her, but she ultimately broke up with him. Enraged, Rudnick raped and strangled her, cut her body to pieces and entombed them in the wall of his great-aunt's house.

Rudnick called Yates to help treat the wounds that he sustained during the attack, and Yates - a fellow serial killer - gave him tips on how to kill his next victim: by keeping her alive for as long as possible and to fracture her skull to incapacitate her. Rudnick then disguised himself as Lena and used her passport to travel to Switzerland to cover up her death. He then returned to the United States using his own passport.

Rudnick became a renowned medical examiner with the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department. During his spare time, he set up and maintained several fake identities. In 2014, Rudnick was transferred to the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner as the deputy chief.

He stole the identity of a 50-year-old homeless woman named Teresa Fish, who died on the E-Train of natural causes and set up an apartment in her name.

In May 2015, Rudnick rapes and murders another woman named Rachel Groves, using the apartment he sets up under Teresa's name to dismember her alive with a cleaver. He replicates aspects of Yates' M.O. to set him up for Rachel's death.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

In the episode "Devil's Dissections," the SVU squad investigates Rachel's death after body washes up in June 2015. Rudnick personally performs the autopsy on her and declares that Rachel's killer most likely had medical training and the killer applied green nail polish after he was done.

When Lena Grunwald's body is found, Rudnick personally autopsies her as well and concludes that she was also attacked by someone with medical training. After Lena's identity is discovered, the police start to suspect he is the killer.

Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba invites Rudnick to a meeting with him and Sergeant Olivia Benson while SVU searches his house. When Benson tells him the body located in his great-aunt's house is Lena, he feigns shock and attempts to steer them back to Yates, but after realizing he is suspected of Lena's death, he invokes his right to counsel and calls his attorney, Rita Calhoun.

After calling his attorney, Rudnick talks to himself about how he needs to kill Yates' fiancée, Susie Frain, unaware that he is being recorded. He is later arrested and arraigned for murdering Rachel and Susie. The judge orders him to surrender his passport and Rudnick is released on $2 million bail.

When Susie calls Rudnick, trying to blackmail him with a photo of him impersonating Lena to get Yates out of prison. Rudnick goes over to Susie's house, where he stabs her in the thigh, takes away the evidence that would implicate him in Lena's death. Then he puts Susie's body in his car, dismembers it, dumps it in the river and then drives to the Canadian border dressed in women's clothing.

In the SVU episode "Criminal Pathology," Rudnick (while in disguise) is caught in Syracuse, New York shoplifting a box of coffee nips, but he is able to convince the cops to let him go, saying that he is going to Canada to visit his dying aunt. After that, he leaves his car at a train station near JFK International Airport to make the authorities think that he is boarding a plane before the hit on his fingerprints came back.

Then, Rudnick heads up to Rochester, New York where he gets on a bus that is headed to Buffalo, but is arrested by Detectives Dominick Carisi and Amanda Rollins and returned to New York City.

During his second court arraignment, Rudnick hires another attorney, John Buchanan, and pleads not guilty to murdering Susie. Both of his attorneys file a motion to separate the charges and Rudnick is taken away. The judge eventually grants the motion, feeling that trying all the charges together would be more prejudicial than probational.

During the trial for Susie's murder, Rudnick claims that he killed her in self-defense after she threatened to blackmail him.

Meanwhile, Carisi discovers the recording of Rudnick saying that he needs to kill Susie like he killed the other women and presents it as evidence.

The defense is working until Carisi finds the recording of him concluding out loud that he will need to kill Susie like he killed the others and presents it as evidence. Rudnick's attorneys attempt to have the recording thrown out, claiming that Rudnick was represented by counsel and that the evidence is Brady material which should have been turned over, but Barba is able to convince the judge that the evidence is admissible because Rudnick's statements were spontaneous and unprovoked.

In the end, Rudnick ends up changing his plea from not guilty to guilty for the murders of Rachel and Susie, while Barba withdraws the charges for Lena's murder. He is sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in Green Haven Correctional Facility. At the end of the episode, he sits and talks with Yates in the prison cafeteria.

Escape From Prison and Recapture

While incarcerated at Green Haven, Rudnick is placed in the prison's honor block and participates in prison group counselor Bronwyn Freed-Wilkins' group therapy sessions. Rudnick manipulates Bronwyn - who helped another serial killer, William Lewis, escape from prison three years earlier - into believing he has changed, and smuggles him tools inside her homemade lasagna. He uses the tools to create a hole in the wall of his cell over a span of a few months, covering it with a poster.

Rudnick plans to flee the country to begin a new life in Canada. Rudnick's cellmate Jose Silva learns of the plan, but Rudnick forces him to stay silent about it, promising to take him along if he cooperates.

In the SVU episode "Nationwide Manhunt," Rudnick finishes creating the hole and he and Yates escape his cell by traveling through a pipe leading outside. Yates murders two electrical workers who helped Rudnick with the escape. Then, the two of them meet up with Bronwyn, who gives them weapons and supplies. Rudnick attacks Bronwyn, gags her and traps her in the trunk of her car. Yates tells Rudnick to kill her, but Rudnick fakes her death.

After that, Rudnick and Yates head to Gloversville, New York, where they hide out in an abandoned house. They are discovered by a state trooper, but Yates rapes and murders her. Afterwards, he attacks Rudnick, severely injuring him and leaving him to die.

Rudnick is discovered by Detectives Carisi & Rollins (along with a SWAT team) in a boat and is taken to a hospital for treatment. While at the hospital, he confesses to Carisi that he never meant for anyone to get hurt, and that Yates is seeking revenge.

It is implied that Rudnick is awaiting trial for the murders and the prison escape and murders.


February 2002

  • Lena Grunwald (ex-girlfriend; raped and strangled; skull was fractured post-mortem)

May 2015

  • Rachel Groves (raped, fractured her skull and dismembered while alive; painted green nail polish on her fingernails post-mortem)

June 2015

  • Susie Frain (Greg Yates' fiance; stabbed once in the thigh and dismembered post-mortem; was pregnant at the time of her death)

February 2016

  • Two unnamed electrical workers (killed together with Greg Yates; necks snapped)
  • Bronwyn Freed-Wilkins (kidnapped, gagged and left to die; was rescued by authorities)
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