Deceased (committed suicide)
|Out of universe information|
Craig T. Nelson
Ethan Rickover was a judge on the California Court of Appeals; at the time he was earmarked for appointment to the state Supreme Court, he was also discovered to have been the murderer of Trudy Monk.
A succesful lawyer, Rickover taught law at UC Berkeley during the late 1980's. While there, he seduced one of his students, Trudy Ellison, who became pregnant with his child. Rickover was married at the time, but deceived Trudy about this fact. To conceal the affair, he also told Trudy that the child had died shortly after her birth, and (presumably) bribed the midwife who oversaw the delivery, Wendy Stroud, to corroborate this. He and Trudy would have no contact for another ten years.
Rickover was appointed (or elected) to the state superior court a short time later.
In 1997, Rickover was a candidate for the Court of Appeals and was mentioned in several news stories. He was contacted by Stroud, who told him that she had found religion and was not going to lie for him any longer. To protect his position, Rickover murdered Stroud and buried her body in his backyard. Afraid that Trudy might try to expose him, he contacted her out of the blue and lured her to a meeting. He hired a criminal, Frank Nunn, to build and plant a bomb in her car. The plan worked, and Trudy was killed.
Nunn referred "The Judge" in connection with Trudy's murder in an old letter, which was found in his apartment after Nunn's death. Twelve years later, in 2009, Rickover was on his way to the state Supreme Court, when his past reared its head again. Dr. Malcolm Nash, the director of Wendy Stroud's birthing clinic, found a reference to the child while transferring the clinic's old paper records to computer files. He contacted Rickover, possibly trying to blackmail him, and Rickover hired another killer to dispose of him. When the SFPD, with the help of Adrian Monk, began to close in on the hit man, Rickover hired the man for an additional job - killing Monk - because he knew full well that Monk would pursue him relentlessly if he connected Rickover with Trudy's death. But the plan backfired: Monk was almost killed by a slow-acting poison administered by the hit man, but, believing he was dying, decided to finally open a parcel Trudy had left for him the night before she died, which turned out to contain a videotaped message revealing her affair with Rickover and that he was the one she was supposed to meet..
Though Rickover denied everything, Monk escaped from a hospital and caught Rickover in his backyard late at night, forcing him, at gunpoint, to dig up Wendy Stroud's corpse in his backyard. Exposed, Rickover confessed. Monk was tempted to gun him down then and there, raging at him that he had murdered two innocent women just to safeguard his lofty position.
Feeling that his life was over (and perhaps finally feeling the shame of what he'd done), Rickover snatched up Monk's pistol and committed suicide, shooting himself in the head.
Just before he pulled the trigger, Rickover shouted at Monk to "take care of her!" a clue that led Monk to realize that Trudy's daughter was still alive.