Convicted murderer Donnie Rudd has died while serving his prison sentence — reportedly 49 years to the day after the death of his wife, whom he was found guilty of killing in 2018.
Rudd was an attorney and school board member in suburban Hoffman Estates in 1973 when his wife of less than a month, 19-year-old Noreen Kumeta, died from what police believed at the time were injuries from a car crash in Barrington Hills, with Rudd behind the wheel.
[ Donnie Rudd murder case timeline: A guilty verdict 40 years in the making ]
Despite some of the unusual circumstances of the case — including that Rudd had been living with another woman and her children up until his wedding to Kumeta — Rudd remained a free man for four decades.
But authorities were prompted to take a fresh look at the case in 2013, after an Arlington Heights detective — while reviewing the 1991 unsolved murder of a local woman who was Rudd’s client — raised new suspicions. Kumeta’s body was exhumed and a pathologist found she’d died of blunt-force injuries to her skull that were inconsistent with a car crash.
Later that year, Rudd was arrested in Texas and charged in his wife’s murder. He was convicted in 2018, despite his continued assertions of his innocence.
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Rudd, who was sentenced to 75-150 years in prison, died Wednesday, according to his former stepdaughter, who said a family member was contacted by a prosecutor in the case Thursday.
Rudd was 80.
Rudd’s former stepdaughter, Cindy Mulligan, said Friday she was still processing the news of his death. Mulligan’s late mother, Dianne Hart, married Rudd in 1974, months after Kumeta’s death.
“I’m not sad, but I’m not happy. It’s a chapter closed, and there are still a lot of unanswered questions. I wish there had been more answers. I hope that it provides closure to his victims, that he’s not there anymore,” Mulligan said. “He had filed for clemency. He filed for mistrials. At least we know he’s never going to get out of jail. He was only there for four years, which really wasn’t a very long time for what he did.”
With her sister, Lori Hart, Mulligan co-wrote “Living with the Devil,” a 2016 memoir about their life with Rudd.
The case has received national attention and was the subject of an “American Monster” documentary on Discovery and an Investigation Discovery special.