Catherine A. Runte

Catherine, circa 1979; Robert Runte, circa 1984

  • Missing Since 05/22/1979
  • Missing From Palatine, Illinois
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 10/21/1950 (73)
  • Age 28 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'5, 112 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A denim skirt with a slit up the back, a navy blue top and a white jacket with soft gray stripes.
  • Medical Conditions Catherine may suffer from mental illness.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes. Catherine has scars on her abdomen, the bridge of her nose, and her upper lip. She wore braces on her teeth at the time of her disappearance. Her nickname is Cathy.

Details of Disappearance

Catherine had an argument with her husband of six years, Robert Runte, in their home in the 900 block of Sanborn Drive in Spinnakers Cove subdivision of Palatine, Illinois at 12:30 a.m. on May 22, 1979.

A photo of Robert is posted with this case summary. He stated Catherine scratched him, kicked him in the jaw and broke it, and slashed his hand with a kitchen knife, then ran away from the house. She has never been heard from again.

She was carrying only her purse, credit cards and a small amount of cash at the time of her disappearance, and Robert stopped her from taking the car. He believed she had gone away to calm down and would return within hours, but she never did and has never been heard from again.

Robert stated Catherine had mental problems and was afraid of being hospitalized, but her family and coworkers said she was in good spirits at the time of her disappearance and was looking forward to her mother's upcoming second marriage.

She was employed part-time as an interior designer for Cathy Metzler Interiors in Barrington, Illinois in 1979, and apparently liked her job. She also gave tennis lessons.

Eight months prior to Catherine's disappearance, a man and a woman armed with pistols forced their way into her home, handcuffed her to a beam in the basement, ransacked the house for several hours and stole more than $5,000 worth of jewelry. They left without harming Catherine, and her stepdaughter found her when she got home from school.

The burglars were never caught. It is uncertain whether the home invasion is related to Catherine's later disappearance.

After Catherine's disappearance, Robert divorced her on grounds of desertion and moved to Florida.

Before he left Illinois, he filed for bankruptcy for his coin-operated games manufacturing business, which was $200,000 in debt. In 1984, he was pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell stolen goods across state lines; he had attempted to sell $350,000 worth of art that had been stolen in 1981.

None of the credit cards Catherine took with her were used after she went missing, and area taxi drivers all denied having given her a ride that day. She had previously left her husband for periods ranging from a few hours to several days, but always kept her family informed of her whereabouts and always returned home eventually.

None of Catherine's loved ones have heard from her since 1979. Authorities believe she is probably dead. Robert is considered a possible suspect in her disappearance, but he has never been charged.

Another resident of Spinnakers Cove, Stephanie Lyng, disappeared in 1977. Her husband was later convicted of her murder, but Lyng's body was never found. Catherine's disappearance is not believed to be connected to Lyng's presumed murder. Catherine's case remains unsolved.

Investigating Agency

  • Palatine Police Department 847-359-9000

Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated November 2, 2009; details of disappearance updated.