Cold case conviction, deadly DUI crashes among Northwest suburbs notable crimes of 2018
The conviction of a disbarred Northwest suburban attorney for a 45-year-old homicide that authorities initially ruled an accident; guilty pleas from three defendants involved in the racially tinged attack on a suburban teen streamed live on social media; and a series of fatal car crashes that rocked the region last summer were among Northwest suburban Cook County's most significant crime stories last year.
In August 1973, newly wedded 19-year-old Noreen Kumeta died along a lonely stretch of road in Barrington Hills after her husband of less than a month -- Northwest suburban attorney Donnie Rudd -- told authorities she struck her head on a rock after being thrown from their car in an accident.
Kumeta's family believed Rudd's account for nearly 40 years, until Arlington Heights police -- who were investigating the unsolved 1991 murder of Rudd's client, interior designer Loretta Tabak-Bodtke -- exhumed Kumeta's body. A forensic pathologist subsequently ruled Kumeta's death a homicide.
Jurors convicted Rudd, 76, in July, and Cook County Judge Marc Martin sentenced the disbarred attorney to 75 to 150 years in prison.
Rudd remains a suspect in Tabak-Bodtke's murder.
Fatal car accidents
Fatal car accidents, several of which involved drugs and/or alcohol, rocked the Northwest suburbs last summer.
• Authorities say Adam Grunin, 30, of Wheeling was driving 107 mph in July when he rear-ended a Mount Prospect family's car, killing 16-year-old Alyssa Lendino. Grunin, who is charged with reckless homicide, was fleeing another accident at the time of the fatal crash, prosecutors said.
• According to prosecutors, a seasonal Cook County Forest Preserve District employee had THC (a component of marijuana) in his system when they say he caused a fatal, five-car crash on north Arlington Heights Road in June. The crash claimed the life of Bloomingdale resident Guiseppe Gazzano, 44. Caleb Rallings, 20, of Hillside, was subsequently charged with aggravated DUI involving a death.
• Authorities say Michael Kelley 48, drove head on into another vehicle Aug. 3 on Higgins Road in Hoffman Estates, killing South Barrington resident Mary Kendzior, 82, and her daughter, Lisa Kendzior, 50. This occurred moments after prosecutors say Kelley struck another car and sped away. Prosecutors say Kelley had a blood alcohol content of .3 -- almost four times the legal limit -- and was traveling at 83 mph when the fatal crash happened.
• That same month, authorities say a Streamwood man with multiple speeding violations was traveling between 80 and 90 mph when he tried to drive between two vehicles on the 500 block of E. Schaumburg Road in Schaumburg. Feroz Q. Khan, 25, was charged with aggravated DUI, causing a death in the three-vehicle crash that claimed the life of Amando Chavez, 41, a husband and father of four from Schaumburg.
• And, in October, Hinigo Olvera, 67, of Schaumburg was charged with aggravated DUI after the pickup truck he was driving struck and killed a 12 weeks pregnant mother of four in Streamwood.
Social media attack
Three of the four defendants involved in a notorious attack on a Crystal Lake teen that was livestreamed on social media pleaded guilty in 2018 to various charges, including hate crimes. The racially tinged case attracted international attention and prompted a condemnation from then-President Barack Obama.
Jordan Hill, formerly of Carpentersville, who attended Aurora's Core Academy and Hoffman Estates' Conant High School, and Tesfaye Cooper, formerly of Hoffman Estates High School, met up with the victim on New Year's Eve 2016. The trio wound up at the Chicago apartment shared by sisters Brittany and Tanishia Covington. In an attack streamed live on Facebook, the defendants struck, slapped, threatened and punched the victim while making derogatory statements about then President-elect Donald Trump.
Hill was sentenced to eight years in prison and Cooper was sentenced to seven years in prison after each pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping and a hate crime. Tanishia Covington was sentenced to three years in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to aggravated battery, intimidation and a hate crime. Brittany pleaded guilty to a hate crime and aggravated battery with intent to disseminate on video in exchange for four years probation and 200 hours of community service.
A Rolling Meadows man with a total of 15 felony and misdemeanor DUI convictions dating back to 1982 was sentenced in April to 15 years in prison by Cook County Judge Joseph Cataldo. The judge remarked that Christopher Clingingsmith's convictions were the most Rolling Meadows courthouse officials had ever encountered. Clingingsmith, 52, pleaded guilty to his 16th DUI stemming from a June 2017 accident in Des Plaines when authorities said he struck a party bus while driving drunk.
In April, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the 2014 murder conviction of Jesus Sanchez, who was found guilty of murdering 23-year-old Rafael Orozco and sentenced to 45 years in prison. Orozco was shot to death while walking his dog Gizmo in Wheeling's Winetree Apartment complex on May 1, 2013.
The court held "the evidence convincingly shows" Sanchez had no part in the murder. His lawyer, Cook County Assistant Public Defender Julie Koehler, said her client was an innocent kid "who got swept up into something he had no part of whatsoever."
Surveillance video taken from a body shop and from a murdered Arlington Heights man's apartment in February 2018 led to charges against 22-year-old Paul Zalewski of Mount Prospect.
Authorities say Zalewski shot Vladimir Esquivel, 29, in the head and body and then set Esquivel's vehicle on fire with the victim inside. Police discovered the victim after firefighters responded to a call of a vehicle fire in Mount Prospect's Cinnamon Cove apartment complex around midnight Feb. 16, 2018.
Video surveillance shows Esquivel retrieving marijuana from his apartment and meeting Zalewski in the parking lot of a Mount Prospect body shop, where prosecutors say what appears to be muzzle flashes can be seen from inside the victim's Jeep. Authorities found no marijuana inside Esquivel's vehicle. But three days after the murder, prosecutors say Zalewski texted an undercover officer saying he had "tons" of marijuana to sell.
Family members of a Palatine teen who died in 2012 following an alcohol-fueled hazing at Northern Illinois University, settled their multimillion dollar wrongful-death lawsuit against members of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and their female guests. Authorities say they attended the party where the hazing took place but did nothing to help severely intoxicated pledges, including 19-year-old David Bogenberger.
David's father, Gary Bogenberger, said the $14 million settlement was not about vengeance, but sending a message about the dangers of fraternity hazing.
A total of 22 fraternity members pleaded guilty in May 2015 to misdemeanor reckless conduct or hazing in what DeKalb County authorities called the largest prosecution of its kind in the country's history.