By Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois judge set bond Thursday at $4 million for a Houston-area man charged with killing his 19-year-old wife 42 years ago in suburban Chicago.

Donnie Rudd, 73, appeared in court on crutches. Earlier this month, he was denied bond after his attorney, Timothy Grace, said he was being treated at a suburban Chicago hospital for a bacterial skin infection.

Grace requested a lesser bond, but Judge Joseph Cataldo said that Rudd is a suspect in another homicide, the 1991 killing of Arlington Heights resident Loretta Tabak-Bodtke.

Three years ago, police in that Chicago suburb started reinvestigating Tabak-Bodtke’s death and questioned Rudd. Inconsistent statements he made about his wife’s death led authorities to exhume her body, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors allege Rudd beat his wife, Noreen, to death in 1973 and then made it appear she had died in a car accident to collect $120,000 in life insurance. The case was ruled a homicide after an autopsy of her exhumed remains determined her injuries were consistent with multiple blows to the head, and inconsistent with being thrown from a vehicle.

Rudd was arrested Dec. 17 in Sugar Land, Texas, about 15 miles southwest of Houston. He is being held in a Cook County Jail medical unit.

Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Maria McCarthy said in court Thursday that Tabak-Bodtke had hired Rudd, a former lawyer who was disbarred for dishonesty in 1994, to represent her in a lawsuit against her business partner. She later threatened to file a complaint against Rudd when he failed to give her money from a settlement, McCarthy said.

McCarthy said neighbors saw Rudd’s car, with vanity license plates “MR CONDO,” at Tabak-Bodtke’s home the day she was found shot to death.

“This defendant is diabolical,” McCarthy said. “He is a sociopath.”

Grace said prosecutors are trying to merge two “half-cases” against Rudd into one. He said his client testified before a grand jury looking into the Tabak-Bodtke case after her death “and they didn’t charge him.”

Grace said the prosecution’s case will rely on hearsay evidence and information from people who have died.

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