Lawrence Rudolph, a wealthy dentist and big game hunter, has been found guilty of murdering his wife Bianca Rudolph while on a hunting trip in Africa. Along with murder, a Colorado, federal court jury also convicted Lawrence, 67, of mail fraud in Denver Monday.
His girlfriend Lori Milliron was also found guilty of being an accessory, obstruction of justice, and two counts of perjury. As for the other three counts of perjury she was facing, Milliron was found not guilty.
Lawrence Claimed His Wife Accidentally Shot Herself with a Shotgun
After a three-week trial, the jury found the dentist did kill his wife in 2016. He initially claimed she must have shot herself as she packed her gun away following their hunting Safari in Zambia. The couple was getting ready to leave their hunting camp in Kafue National Park on the morning of Oct. 11 when Bianca died from a fatal shotgun blast to the chest.
Per the AP, Larry testified that a shotgun the pair had obtained to hunt a leopard accidentally went off. He said that he was in the bathroom when he heard the gunfire and found his wife bleeding on the floor afterward.
Lawrence was Having an Affair with Another Woman
Prosecutors alleged he killed his wife of 34 years so he could collect millions of dollars in life insurance benefits and continue his relationship with his girlfriend Milliron, who was being tried alongside Lawrence.
During the trial held in U.S. District Court in Denver, a federal prosecutor claimed Lawrence admitted to the killing while at dinner with Milliron at a Phoenix steakhouse when he learned in 2020 that the FBI was investigating his wife's death, the Associated Press reported.
Federal authorities got involved in the case after a friend of Bianca's told authorities on Oct. 27, 2016, that she wanted the FBI to investigate her friend's death because she suspected foul play, claiming that Lawrence had cheated on his wife and had been having an affair at the time of her death.
During the trial, Lawrence testified that he had an open relationship with his wife and said they were "reasonably happy" with that decision, according to AP.
Medical Examiner Ruled Out Accidental Death
Shortly after the incident, investigators state that Rudolph called the U.S Embassy to report that his wife had died "of an accidental gunshot round" before quickly turning the conversation "to the issue of cremating Bianca's body and leaving the country."
The cremation request was granted just two days after the fatal incident—a decision that prompted the embassy consular chief to tell the FBI he "had a bad feeling about the situation, which he thought was moving too quickly." As a result, he traveled to (the Zambian funeral home) with two others from the embassy to take photographs of the body and preserve any potential evidence,"
The consular chief took several pictures of the gunshot wound and used a scale to measure it. He said it was not a contact wound as there were no burns around it, the FBI said. He estimated the distance between the muzzle of the shotgun when it fired and Bianca Rudolph's chest at 6½ to 8 feet, the complaint said.
Lawrence Collected $4.8 Million in Bianca's Insurance Payouts
As investigators began to review Rudolph's life, they noticed that there were several life and accidental death policies for Bianca at the time of her death, including some originally purchased in 1987 and "updated and adjusted into 2016." Investigators note there were nine policies in Bianca's name, altogether totaling $4,877,744.93.
During interviews with insurance companies, the unnamed professional hunting guide had to retell his story of the events, including speculating how Bianca may have been able to shoot herself with the full-length sporting barrel gun. The affidavit states, "each of the insurance companies... ultimately concluded that the relevant policy should be paid."