Rudd found guilty of 1973 murder
Loop North News

Donnie Rudd

3-Jul-18 – Forty-five years after the death of Noreen Rudd, a 19-year-old librarian at Quaker Oats, on a remote, unlit highway northwest of Chicago, a jury has decided she did not die accidentally but as part of an insurance scam.

Donnie Rudd It took the jury about three hours to return a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder against Donnie Rudd (left), the former Chicago attorney who was newly married to Noreen at the time.

“They got it wrong,” said Rudd’s attorney, Timothy Grace, outside the courtroom in Rolling Meadows. He said the jury “put together a circumstantial case built on innuendos.”

Presented methodically over five days, the case swayed the panel of eight women and six men. According to an alternate juror, in a battle between expert witnesses, the prosecution’s three forensic pathologists were more convincing than the defense’s one diagnostic radiologist.

It was known that Noreen died of head injuries on September 14, 1973, but how she was injured was disputed. Rudd says that while driving home from visiting his mother-in-law, at about 11:30 at night on what is now Dundee Road in Barrington Hills, an oncoming car forced him off the road. Before his car came to rest, his wife of just 28 days was ejected from the vehicle, he said.

In 2013, Noreen’s body was exhumed, and an autopsy determined she died of blunt force trauma from multiple blows to the head.

(Right) 1973 wedding photo of Donnie and Noreen Rudd.

Donnie and Noreen Rudd

Prosecutors were relentless about suspicious circumstances immediately following Noreen’s death, most notably that Donnie was the beneficiary in multiple insurance policies, paying him more than $100,000.

Maria McCarthy “He thought he got away with it,” said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Maria McCarthy (left) in closing statements on Monday, “but science and Noreen caught up with him.”

Grace said the evidence against his client was “getting a massage” from the state and much of it consisted of “straight out lies.”

He said the testimony of Christopher Bish, one of the first responders, who said he had doubts about whether it was an accident, was not credible as it took him decades to come forward with his concerns.

According to Grace, Noreen was alive when she arrived at Sherman Hospital in Elgin, an x-ray was ordered, and a physician determined she had a broken neck. The autopsy 40 years later was not complete, he says, as it did not include examination of a part of the brainstem that, if crushed, would have resulted in “internal decapitation.”

“This case is brimming over with reasonable doubt,” Grace (right) told the jury.

Timothy Grace

“The evidence was overwhelming,” said Noreen’s sister, Karen Mezera, who testified against Rudd. She said after the trial that Noreen “told her story” through testimony from the forensic pathologists.

After the verdict was read at about 3:40 on Monday afternoon, Rudd’s bond was revoked and he was taken into custody. Grace says he will appeal the verdict. A hearing is scheduled for July 26.

 Previous story: Expert witnesses clash over evidence in Rudd murder trial

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

Published 3-Jul-18 3:17 AM

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