Former Chicago attorney arrested for 1973 murder of his wife

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - FOX 32 has learned that a once well-known Chicago attorney is under arrest in a decades-old killing, and remains a suspect in another murder mystery.

Former Attorney Donnie Rudd, who later became a prominent stem-cell scientist, was arrested Thursday and charged with the 1973 murder of his wife, Noreen Kumeta. Rudd's wife was believed to have died in an auto accident in Barrington Hills.

On September 21, 1973, the following obituary appeared in a suburban newspaper: Noreen Rudd, the 19-year-old wife of attorney Donnie Rudd, died from 'injuries sustained in a car accident in Barrington Hills.'

But her body was recently exhumed and an autopsy led police to believe she was beaten to death prior to the accident.

For decades, there was no reason to believe otherwise. Unless you talked to Stephanie Tabak, as FOX 32 did a few weeks ago.

“He married her in August in 1973, and three weeks after they were married, she was killed,” said Stephanie Tabak, daughter of Terri Tabak.

Stephanie never knew Noreen Rudd. But she has tracked Donnie Rudd  for 24 years now, firmly convinced that Rudd murdered her own mother, Terri,  back in 1991. Terri Tabak was shot in the face in her Arlington Heights home shortly after she threatened to file a complaint about Rudd's legal tactics. Police say he is still a suspect in that murder.

“It’s horrible to live with, you know, I check on him constantly,” Stephanie said.

Over time, Stephanie became convinced that Rudd also murdered his wife, Noreen, 18 years earlier. And on that point, Cook County prosecutors now agree.

On Thursday morning, Arlington Heights police arrested Rudd at his home in Sugar Land Texas. He was charged with murdering Noreen Rudd after investigators recently concluded Rudd was lying when he claimed she died in a car accident.

His motive? Police believe Rudd had taken out a $100,000 insurance policy on his wife before her death.

At first blush, Donnie Rudd would seem like anything but a killer. He has claimed to be an expert in stem cell regeneration who was once honored by NASA. As a Chicago lawyer, he was considered an expert in condominium law.

When FOX 32 asked him three years whether he had anything to do with Terri Tabak's murder, he replied, "Thank you for looking into this cold case. However, since I had nothing to do with this lady's death, I have nothing to contribute."

However, police say he remains a suspect.

Arlington Heights police made the arrest after working with the Barrington Hills Police and the cold case unit in the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

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