Texas man charged in wife's 1973 death in Illinois hospital

AP News
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Posted: Dec 21, 2015 6:10 PM
Texas man charged in wife's 1973 death in Illinois hospital

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. (AP) — A Houston-area man charged last week with killing his 19-year-old wife more than 40 years ago in suburban Chicago is being held without bond while he is hospitalized in Illinois.

Donnie Rudd, 73, didn't appear in court Monday because he is being treated at a suburban Chicago hospital for a bacterial skin infection, defense attorney Tim Grace said. A new bond hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.

Rudd, a former lawyer who was disbarred for dishonesty in 1994, was arrested last week at his apartment in Sugar Land, Texas, on charges he killed Noreen Kumeta Rudd.

Noreen Rudd was reported killed in a car accident in Barrington Township in 1973, less than a month after they were married.

Police responding to the scene found Donnie Rudd cradling his wife's head inside the vehicle, prosecutor Maria McCarthy said. Authorities now believe Donnie Rudd killed her by hitting her on the head and staged the accident to cover up her murder.

McCarthy said an officer who tried to help Noreen Rudd at the scene of the crash found a large hole in her head.

She said Donnie Rudd told authorities a vehicle had pulled into his lane and he swerved to avoid an accident. He said Noreen Rudd was thrown from the car after it left the roadway and must have hit her head on a rock that was found nearby, smeared with blood, McCarthy said.

No autopsy was conducted, but a coroner's inquest determined she died as a result of the crash.

Grace said Monday the charges are "unjustified."

"Sometimes bad things happen and no one's at fault," Grace said. "That's our position of what happened here."

Noreen Rudd's body was exhumed in 2013 and an autopsy conducted. McCarthy said authorities determined her injuries were consistent with multiple blows to the head, and inconsistent with being thrown from a vehicle.

Three years ago, police in Arlington Heights, Illinois, started reinvestigating a separate death of a woman who was shot in the head in 1991. They questioned Donnie Rudd as part of that case, authorities said Monday.

They said they questioned Donnie Rudd about Noreen Rudd's death during those conversations, and that inconsistencies in his statements led them to have the remains exhumed.