1973 Barrington Twp. murder: Ex-attorney arrested in Texas
A former Northwest suburban attorney, school board member and Hoffman Estates plan commissioner was arrested in Texas Thursday and is being charged with murder in connection with the 1973 death of his wife in Barrington Township, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office said Friday.
Donnie Rudd, 73, who was arrested in Sugar Land, Texas, also is a suspect in a 1991 murder of an Arlington Heights woman, police said.
Rudd is being charged with the murder of his wife, Noreen Kumeta Rudd, who was a librarian at Quaker Oats in Barrington. She was 19 when she was reported killed in a car accident, but authorities now believe the car accident was faked to cover up her murder.
The original death certificate says Noreen was thrown from the vehicle and suffered a fracture to the cervical spine and trauma. She was dead on arrival at Elgin's Sherman Hospital.
Under an order from the Arlington Heights Police Department, Noreen's body was exhumed in February 2013, Kane County Coroner Rob Russell said. The autopsy took less than a day.
"It wasn't the original finding," Russell said, declining to offer details. He said her body has been put back in its grave at the Dundee Township East Cemetery.
Rudd was a real estate attorney who lost his license in Illinois and who says on his website that he has been working as a scientist in Texas.
He is expected to appear in bond court in Rolling Meadows Monday afternoon, the state's attorney's spokesman said. Afterward, officials will hold a news conference at the courthouse to discuss the charges, said Arlington Heights Police Chief Gerald Mourning.
He said Rudd has been a longtime suspect in the 1991 death of Loretta "Teri" Tabak, a 59-year-old interior designer who was shot several times in the head in her Arlington Heights condominium.
It was Arlington Heights police officers who went to Texas to make the arrest and who will bring Rudd back to the Northwest suburbs over the weekend, Mourning said. The Fort Bend County sheriff's office said Rudd was picked up around 2 p.m. Friday to be brought back to Illinois.
In a 1997 Daily Herald article, Arlington Heights police said they felt they had enough evidence to convict their chief suspect in Tabak's murder, but prosecutors disagreed. The suspect wasn't named in the story. Police said:
• Tabak and the suspect, who was an attorney, had had a business dispute.
• A check missing from her condo later was found torn up in a trash can in the suspect's suburban home.
• The suspect's car was seen outside Tabak's home on the day of the murder.
• The suspect acknowledged being inside her condo on that day.
• The suspect was a gun owner.
• The suspect had a history of business problems and once was questioned about another suspicious death.
Missing were any witnesses, the murder weapon, and fingerprints or DNA evidence that could incontrovertibly link the suspect to the crime, prosecutors said.
Tabak's daughter, Stephanie Tabak, has never stopped trying to bring her mother's killer to justice, talking about the case in an April 4 LinkedIn post.
Reached Friday, she said she will not comment on Rudd's arrest until the police or Cook County state's attorney makes a statement.
"Out of respect for Noreen and her family, I'm going to let the police make a formal statement first," she said.
Rudd was a high-profile attorney in the suburbs specializing in condominium law.
A Hoffman Estates resident, Rudd was elected to the Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 school board in 1970, serving as president from April to November 1971. He resigned in 1972 citing health, but he was later reappointed and then elected to a second term in 1973.
Rudd served as District 54 board president again during the 1973-74 school year, but he resigned in 1974 for business reasons. He ran again for a one-year term in 1977, describing himself as married with eight children. At the time, he was on the Hoffman Estates planning commission.
Rudd was disbarred as an attorney in Illinois in 1994 as a result of findings that he had engaged in conduct involving dishonesty or fraud in his representation of clients, including the mid-1980s Whitehall Park condominium development in Oak Brook and the Surrey Park condominiums in Arlington Heights.
Rudd's recent website, donnierudd.com, describes him as a lifelong Texan who began his career as a chemical engineer before entering the biological sciences. It makes no references to his past as either an attorney or an Illinois resident. On the website, Rudd claims credit for 40 biochemical inventions.
Sugar Land is in Fort Bend County, Texas, about 20 miles southwest of Houston with a 2015 estimated population of 86,972, according to the city's website. It was started as a sugar plantation in the 1800s, and incorporated in 1959.
• Daily Herald staff writers Melissa Silverberg and Barbara Vitello contributed to this report.