Ruth Madoff refused to turn her back on her notorious husband, Bernie, despite a desperate plea from her suicidal son. It was only on the day last December when Mark Madoff killed himself that Ruth expressed regret for her decision, saying in an email to his widow, "What a fool I was."
The revelation is contained in a new book written by Mark Madoff's widow, Stephanie Mack, titled, "The End of Normal: A Wife's Anguish, A Widow's New Life."
Mark Madoff had cut off all contact with his father, Bernie Madoff, on the day that his huge Ponzi scheme was revealed. However, according to Mack, he also refused to see his mother, Ruth, as long as she stood by Bernie's side.
"He never wanted to hurt Ruth, he just wasn't ready to see her yet," said Mack. "He couldn't understand how she could continuously stand by this man who ruined so many lives. Who ruined his life."
The only time Mark Madoff reached out to Ruth was in July of 2009, when she was evicted from her apartment by U.S. marshals. On that day, Ruth was forced to hide in the trunk of a car to escape the media.
"He sent her an email, saying, you know, 'I'm sure today must have really sucked. You know I'm thinking about you and I love you,'" said Mack.
Meanwhile, Mack said she stayed in touch with Ruth out of sympathy, helping her look for a new apartment and allowing her to see her grandchildren Audrey and Nick. "She just seemed so lost to me," said Mack.
Mack said the unrelenting scrutiny from the public and media over the Madoff scandal drove her emotionally sensitive husband into a deep depression. In October 2009, Mack said she and her husband had an angry argument about Ruth, with Stephanie demanding that he deal with his mother head-on instead of being eaten up inside. Instead, Mark left the apartment, checked into a hotel and unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide by swallowing 60 sleeping and anti-anxiety pills.
Madoff was admitted to a psychiatric ward, where he issued an ultimatum to Ruth, who he thought had betrayed him: He would never speak to her again unless she cut off all contact with Bernie.
However, Mack said, to her tortured husband's astonishment and despair, Ruth refused to stop seeing Bernie, even though he was serving a 150-year prison sentence.
"She felt that she needed to be with Bernie. But that didn't make sense to me. Bernie was gone," said Mack. "My husband is lying in a psych ward, just swallowed sixty-plus pills to try and kill himself. And you're still gonna stand by Bernie? A monster?"
After leaving the hospital, Mark Madoff appeared to recover. However, in December 2010, two years to the day after his father's arrest, he committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling beam in his apartment.
On the day that Mark died, his mother Ruth emailed Stephanie admitting it was a huge mistake to stay with Bernie.
"I'll regret to my dying day that I didn't do what he asked about me not seeing Bernie. This week was a brutal one, and I was about to change. It's too late. What a fool I was," the email read.
Despite news reports that Ruth Madoff has indeed cut off all contact with Bernie, Mack said she was not yet ready to forgive Ruth.
"My husband felt very abandoned by his mother," said Mack. "And he just never got over the fact that she chose Bernie Madoff over her own son."