Donnie Rudd murdered his wife Noreen Kumeta and escaped justice for 45 years: American Monster investigates

Mugshot of Donnie Rudd
Donnie Rudd was sentenced to 75 to 150 years for murdering his second wife, Noreen Kumeta. Pic credit: Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office

This week American Monster looks at the case of Donnie Rudd, who was found guilty of murdering his second wife, Noreen Kumeta, a staggering 45 years after the killing.

In 1973, Donnie Rudd was engaged in a romantic affair with Dianne Hart, and they were living together with her two daughters. According to the daughters, Lori and Cindy Hart, he returned home one day to announce he was marrying 19-year-old Noreen Kumeta, who worked with him at Quaker Oats in Barrington, Illinois.

Just a few weeks after the marriage, the police found Rudd cradling his dead wife in their Ford Pinto in a field in Barrington Hills in the northwest Chicago suburbs. He told them that they’d been run off the road.

He said Noreen had been flung from the car and had hit her head on a rock. He claimed he then carried her back to the car.

The authorities accepted Rudd’s version of events even though he had been living with another woman just weeks before the marriage, and he stood to gain a large sum of money from Noreen’s death through life insurance. He was even known to have money problems, but still, he walked free.

Rudd returned to live with Dianne Hart, and the pair were married within the year. Hart was Rudd’s third of five wives.

Donnie Rudd also a suspect in 1991 murder of Loretta Tabak Bodtke

It was an investigation into the 1991 murder of Loretta Tabak Bodtke that led to cops reopening the case of Noreen Kumeta. In 1991, Rudd was working as a lawyer and represented Bodtke when he promised her a large sum of money as a settlement in a business dispute.

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Bodkte was murdered after the money failed to arrive. Following various complaints against Rudd from clients, the Illinois attorney disciplinary agency began an investigation and disbarred him.

It later transpired that Bodtke had been one of the clients to issue a complaint against Rudd. He remains the main suspect in her murder.

Meanwhile, the police had taken a fresh look at Norren’s death, and after an exhuming her remains, they discovered her injuries were caused by being struck in the head with a blunt object and were not consistent with a car accident.

In September 2018, a judge sentenced Rudd to between 75 to 150 years in prison.

He remained defiant until the very end, making a thirty-minute speech from the witness stand that recounted the same explanation of his wife’s death that he gave 45 years previously.

More from American Monster

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on American Monster.

Teenager Tracie Miles was angered when her mother, Sandy Miles, disapproved of her relationship with her new boyfriend, Paul Nelson. She was so angry that she hatched a plan with Nelson to murder her mom and flee to Mexico.

By all accounts, Simeonette Mapes-Crupi was a dedicated New York City school teacher and a loving wife to Jonathan Crupi. However, when she argued with her husband over his use of prostitutes, he murdered her and tried to blame her death on a home invasion.
American Monster airs Sundays at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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