August 02, 2022
A wealthy Phoenix-area dentist has been charged with mail fraud and murder in the death of his wife during a 2016 safari in Zambia.
Lawrence “Larry” Rudolph and his wife, Bianca Rudolph had been having troubles with their relationship and had almost divorced twice in the years leading up to her death. They met at the University of Pittsburgh and tied the knot in 1982 but found it difficult to maintain their relationship as the years went by.
Although they had been married for 34 years and shared two children together, it wasn’t enough to keep their relationship intact. Although they stayed married, they decided, says Lawrence, to have an open relationship. According to Lawrence, this decision came in 2000 and their new arrangement eased the pressure that had been building between them enough to make their cohabitation tolerable. He and Bianca shared a love of hunting and continued to go on big game hunting trips together right up until her death.
He added that neither his wife nor his girlfriend demanded exclusivity and that he was not pushed or pulled in either direction to cut one or the other out of his life.
On October 11, 2016, at the end of a two week safari trip in Zambia, Bianca lost her life as the result of what Lawrence Rudolph claimed was an accidental self-inflicted injury. At around 5am that morning, he claimed that he heard a gunshot from inside their cabin while he was in the bathroom and rushed out to find his wife bleeding out on the floor. At the time he and Bianca were preparing to return home to the states as local tour guides milled around the cabin, going in and out to pour coffee and help with the preparations.
Two days after her death, authorities in Zambia declared Bianca Rudolph’s death as an accidental shooting. Lawrence Rudolph is said to have rushed to have her body cremated, a move that friends of Bianca found suspicious as she was a devout Catholic and did not believe in cremation, preferring to be buried as per her beliefs.
Following his wife’s death, Lawrence was paid $4.8 million in insurance from a Colorado-based insurance company.
If convicted, Lawrence will likely face life in prison or the death penalty.
Larry Rudolph's girlfriend, Lori Milliron, who was romantically involved with the accused dentist at the time of Bianca's murder, is also facing charges of lying to a grand jury and being an accessory.
Rudolph met Milliron at his office where she was employed as a hygienist and manager. She allegedly told an ex co-worker that she had been dating Rudolph for 15-20 years. The former co-worker went on to inform the FBI that, in contradiction to Lawrence Rudolph’s statement that he was not given an ultimatum by either his wife or girlfriend, Milliron had demanded Rudolph divorce Bianca and sell his dental Franchise. Following Bianca Lawrence’s death, Lori Milliron moved into the Rudolph residence after around three months. She and Lawrence then attempted to buy another property in the area costing around $3.5 million.
Rudolph and Milliron allegedly had an argument while dining at a steakhouse in Phoenix. At the height of the argument witnesses alleged that Rudolph exclaimed: "I killed my fucking wife for you!" The statement came after the couple discovered that the FBI had been looking into Bianca's death.
Larry Rudolph denied making the statement and claims that he was misheard saying: “Now they're saying I killed my fucking wife for you.”
The couple’s relationship became strained at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and the effect it would have on their business. Lawrence Rudolph owned a dental franchise based out of Pennsylvania and the couple had been bickering about how the pandemic could impact their finances. Rudolph had become extremely wealthy from his dental franchise and according to his lawyer, David Marcus, he was worth approximately $15 million before he received the insurance pay-out of $4.8 million following Bianca’s death.
The couple live together in Paradise Valley, Maricopa County, Arizona. Paradise Valley is the wealthiest municipality in Arizona.
Marcus stated that the money from the insurance pay-out went directly into a trust fund for Lawrence and Bianca’s children and he believes this is evidence in Lawrence Rudolph’s defence that he did not murder his wife for monetary gain.
Rudolph’s attorney also pointed out that the couple’s children, now adults, were supporting their father in court.
But prosecutors argue that forensic evidence from an FBI investigation determined that the victim's gunshot wound was inflicted from a meter away. Although Larry Rudolph claimed that Bianca died as a result of an accident with a shotgun that she was not experienced with, both Larry and Bianca had been hunting for years and prosecutors argue that it is unlikely an experienced hunter would make such a fatal error. The pair had been hunting for an entire two weeks, with Bianca hoping to kill a leopard, a wish she would not get to fulfil, although the couple did kill several other animals during the safari.
David Marcus presented the argument that Bianca Rudolph dropped the shotgun, setting it off and accidentally wounding herself. Zambian authorities agreed.
The sixty-seven-year-old is currently on trial in Denver and recently took the stand and testified for around two hours, telling jurors: "I did not kill my wife. I could not murder my wife. I would not murder my wife."
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