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Thursday, January 19th, 2006 -- 12:03 PM

-A 23-year-old Thorp man is accused of shooting his pregnant wife, dismembering the body and dumping it in a river.

After a month of silence on the case, Clark County Sheriff Louis Rosandich announced Friday Shaun Rudy is now a ?suspect? in the disappearance and death of his wife, 21-year-old Christine Rudy. She was believed to be six months pregnant.

No criminal charges have been filed.

Investigators believe Christine and Shaun were driving on November 12th when they became involved in an argument. Shaun told authorities Christine voluntarily left the vehicle, but authorities say Shaun shot his wife and then tried to hide the evidence.

?Shaun and Christine got involved in an argument on Rogers Creek Avenue in the (Clark County) Township of Butler. Information indicates Shaun allegedly shot Christine Rudy,? Rosandich announced.

The investigation revealed that Shaun Rudy transferred the body to ?another location? and dismembered it, then drove to Chippewa County where he disposed of the body in the Chippewa River, north of Chippewa Falls, Rosandich explained.

Chief Deputy Jim Backus confirmed authorities have searched the river near the Cobban Bridge in Chippewa County, but have found nothing. The search is suspended indefinitely due to unsafe diving conditions, he said.

Authorities did find Christine?s remains near the area Shaun claimed he left his wife. He would not elaborate on the condition of those remains. The State Crime Lab has not been able to determine the cause of death and used DNA to identify the remains, Backus said.

Officials also found three firearms as part of the investigation. They were traced back to a burglary in Iowa. One of the guns is believed to be the murder weapon, Backus said.

The Sheriff?s department has maintained there may be others involved or charged in this case, but could not comment on who those people are, or what role they may have played.

Clark County District Attorney Darwin Zwieg did not attend the press conference. He?s told reporters he?s waiting for more information ? including the cause of death ? before filing charges.

Shaun Rudy?s attorney, Bill Poss of Black River Falls, told reporters his client maintains his innocence. ?He?s very upset that he found out his wife was deceased. She was carrying his child. He was very upset about it,? Poss said.

Poss said Shaun Rudy initially helped authorities, but refused to talk to investigators when their questions became ?accusatorial?.

?It was made very clear to him that he was a quote/unquote ?person of interest-slash-suspect? rather than someone who had reported his wife missing,? Poss said.

Shaun Rudy is in jail on unrelated firearms and drug paraphernalia charges.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.