Disbarred attorney convicted of murdering his bride in 1973 dies in prison

Donnie Rudd, convicted four years ago of murdering Noreen Kumeta, his 19-year-old bride, along a lonely road in Barrington Hills less than a month after their 1973 wedding, died Wednesday in prison, an Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman confirmed.

He was 80.

Rudd claimed that another driver forced them off the road Sept. 14, 1973, and that Kumeta was thrown from the car. An emergency room doctor attributed her death to a cervical spine fracture and a coroner concluded that her death was an accident. No autopsy was performed.

In 2013, authorities exhumed Kumeta's body as part of their investigation into the cold-case murder of Arlington Heights interior designer Loretta Tabak-Bodtke, who was found shot to death in her townhouse on April 4, 1991. Rudd, a former attorney disbarred in 1994 for fraud and unlawful conduct, was involved in a business dispute with Tabak-Bodtke at the time of her death. He remained a suspect in that case but was never charged.

After performing an autopsy on Kumeta's remains, a Kane County coroner determined that she died from blunt force trauma to her head and reclassified her death as a homicide. That led to Rudd's 2015 arrest and extradition from Texas on charges of first-degree murder.

Convicted in 2018 and sentenced to 75 to 150 years in prison, Rudd was four years into his sentence when he died.

"Although Donnie spent a short time in prison, earthly justice was met," said Karen Mezera, Kumeta's sister, who pointed out that Rudd died 49 years to the day after he murdered Noreen. "We pray for heavenly justice and only God knows what that may be."

According to prosecutors, Rudd and Kumeta met when they both worked at Quaker Oats in Barrington. After a brief courtship, they married in August 1973. Twenty-seven days later, Kumeta was murdered, prosecutors say, for $120,000 in life insurance policies.

A week after Kumeta's death, Rudd went back to the girlfriend he had been living with before her. They married eight months later.

Former Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Maria McCarthy, lead prosecutor in Rudd's case, described Rudd as the most dangerous person she ever prosecuted.

"He would take a human life without batting an eye if it was going to benefit him in any way," McCarthy said. "Thankfully his psychopathy is rare, even among murderers."

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