Aug. 18, 1973
A young bride, an unusual courtship
Though he’s living with another woman and her four children, 31-year-old Donnie Rudd, a lawyer and Schaumburg School District 54 board member, abruptly announces that he’s marrying a 19-year-old Carpentersville woman, Noreen Kumeta, after meeting her at Quaker Oats in Barrington, where they both work, according to testimony and authorities.
Sept. 14, 1973
A deadly car crash — or something else?
Less than a month after their wedding, the Rudds are driving back to their Hoffman Estates home from visiting her mother when their Pinto Wagon ends up in a field in Barrington Hills, with Noreen fatally injured. Donnie Rudd tells police, who find him cradling his wife in the front seat, that another driver ran him off the road and that Noreen was thrown from the car and hit her head on a rock. She was pronounced dead at Sherman Hospital in Elgin, where the emergency room doctor said she had a broken neck but did not have X-rays taken, according to his testimony. Noreen Rudd would be buried in her wedding dress days later at Dundee Township East Cemetery. Her widower receives about $120,000 in life insurance.
Rudd takes a new bride — his ex-girlfriend
Donnie Rudd marries Dianne Hart, the woman with whom he was living up until the day before he married Noreen, according to testimony and authorities. It’s Rudd’s third marriage, having had four children with his first wife, Louann, before marrying Noreen.
A professional life, with cracks starting to show
Rudd works as an attorney for a Chicago firm, specializing in laws relating to the condo market, and becoming well-known in the field. But some clients begin to complain about his practices.
Another mysterious death
One of Rudd’s legal clients who authorities said had threatened to file a complaint about him, Loretta Tabak-Bodtke (sometimes spelled Lauretta), is shot to death in her Arlington Heights home. The crime remains unsolved.
The end of a legal career
Facing several misconduct accusations by the state’s attorney disciplinary board, Rudd agrees to accept disbarment. He later relocates to Texas.
Another quick marriage
Having lost his third wife, Dianne, to cancer in 1996, Rudd marries for the fifth time, to Emma Leising, who told the Tribune in 2015 that he proposed months after they met on Match.com, on the same day his marriage to his fourth wife ended. (Details about his fourth wife are scarce, but that marriage was annulled, according to authorities.) Leising said she divorced Rudd in 2010.
A case reopened, a body exhumed
While taking a fresh look at the unsolved slaying of Loretta Tabak-Bodtke, Arlington Heights police Detective Cmdr. Richard Sperando finds notes in the file on Donnie Rudd and Noreen Rudd’s death, the detective later said, adding “it just didn’t seem right” that Noreen died accidentally. He contacts Christopher Bish, who was a young Barrington Hills police officer when he responded to the 1973 car crash and who testified that the case haunted him. Within weeks, Sperando and investigators win a court order to have Noreen’s body exhumed and examined. A pathologist finds that Noreen has skull injuries that appear to have been caused by blows from a blunt object, not a car crash, and the death is reclassified as a homicide. In December, Sperando, his partner and two prosecutors fly to Sugar Land, Texas, a Houston suburb, to interview Rudd, appraching him outside a grocery store. Rudd voluntarily goes to the police station but answers many questions by saying he doesn’t know or remember, including whether he hit Noreen in the head, according to Sperando’s testimony.
Dec. 17, 2015
More than 40 years later, an arrest
Rudd, by now 73, is arrested in Sugar Land and charged with murder in the death of his second wife, Noreen.
A murder suspect freed
About 10 months after his arrest, Rudd puts up $400,000 in cash to be bailed out of Cook County Jail while he awaits trial. Two of his former stepdaughters, Lori Hart and Cindy Mulligan, daughters of his third wife, Dianne, publish a book about him, calling it “Living with the Devil: A Family’s Search for Truth in the Face of Deception, Infidelity and Murder.”
June 26, 2018
The trial begins
Rudd goes on trial in Cook County’s Rolling Meadows’ court for the alleged murder of Noreen Rudd.
July 2, 2018
Rudd is found guilty
Rudd is convicted of first-degree murder after a weeklong trial and three hours of jury deliberations.
Sept. 13, 2018
Judge calls Rudd ‘diabolical’
A Cook County judge ensures that Rudd will be a free man no more, sentencing him to 75 to 150 years in prison — even as Rudd remained defiant to the end, taking the stand to proclaim his innocence.