A Pennsylvania dentist charged with murdering his wife while on a 2016 safari in Africa allegedly admitted as much to his mistress during an argument at a steakhouse several years later, according to prosecutors.
Lawrence “Larry” Rudolph, 67, stands accused of murdering Bianca Rudolph, his wife for 34 years, in the Republic of Zambia and then later cashing in on life insurance payouts in excess of $4.8 million. Formally, he’s been charged with foreign murder and mail fraud.
The defendant’s jury trial began on July 11, 2022.
During opening arguments, a federal prosecutor said the dentist was arguing with his girlfriend, Lori Milliron, in 2020 after learning that his wife’s death – long since settled by Zambian authorities and insurance company investigators – was being looked at as intentional by the FBI.
“I killed my fucking wife for you!” Larry Rudolph allegedly told his lover, according to a witness cited by the government, various national media outlets like NBC News and the Associated Press reported.
“He killed his wife for HER,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Bishop Grewell told jurors in a Denver courtroom while referencing the girlfriend.
The case is being prosecuted in the Centennial State, rather than in Pennsylvania, because of where the insurance payouts were processed. The defense previously sought to raise issues over the Rudolphs’ lack of any connection to the Mile High State.
The defense countered with claims that the bystander who heard the alleged exclamation made a mistake.
“They’re saying, ‘I killed my fucking wife for you,'” Larry Rudolph allegedly told Milliron at the Phoenix restaurant in question, defense attorney David Markus countered. “If that is what this case depends on, I can’t believe we’re going to be here for three weeks.”
Larry Rudolph, who has a net worth reportedly in the area of some $15 million due to a successful chain of dental franchises he started in 2006, was criminally charged in December 2021.
“During 2016, the Rudolphs traveled to Zambia multiple times,” a superseding complaint says. “Their final trip to Zambia was scheduled to take place between September 27, 2016, and October 11, 2016. Bianca Rudolph’s goal during the trip was to kill a leopard. She was unsuccessful in killing a leopard but did kill numerous other animals during the trip. Lawrence Rudolph was present for the hunt, but he was not actively hunting. The Rudolphs took two guns with them for the hunt: a Remington .375 Rifle and a Browning 12-gauge shotgun.”
While packing to head back home during the early morning hours, Bianca Rudolph was shot in the chest with the Browning.
The government’s theory of the case largely rests upon the distance they argue Bianca Rudolph appears to have been shot from.
“An FBI Special Agent conducted testing to determine, by comparison to photographs from the scene of the death, the approximate position of the shotgun muzzle within the soft case at the time of discharge, as well as the resulting shot patterns created by firing the shotgun with the case over the barrel at various distances,” the complaint says. “These patterns were then provided to an expert forensic medical examiner, who determined that the patterns most likely matching the wound observed in photographs of the body were created by a shot from a distance of between two and three and one-half feet.”
“At that distance, there is reason to believe that Bianca Rudolph was not killed by an accidental discharge,” the FBI concluded.
The defense, oppositely, claims the widower was in the bathroom when his wife dropped the weapon on the floor, causing an accidental discharge that struck her once in the heart and took her life.
Moments later, support staff rushed in. Larry Rudolph was clutching his wife and screaming for help. Help came but didn’t do any good.
“Findings further suggested that the firearm was loaded from the previous hunting activities and the Normal Safety Precautions at the time of packing the firearm were not taken into consideration causing the firearm to accidently [sic] fire,” a summary of findings by the Zambian Police Service cited in the criminal complaint says.
A Zambian game scout and a professional hunting guide cited in the criminal complaint both told the government they saw the shotgun “inside a partially zipped gun case” when they arrived.
“They’ve chosen speculation over science,” Markus told the jury. “They’ve chosen fiction over fact.”
Additionally, the government claims, Larry Rudolph was “livid” when speaking with U.S. Embassy personnel after he learned photographs of his wife’s body had been taken. The dentist allegedly suggested his wife might have committed suicide to one embassy official “before or after” her body was cremated, the government alleges.
The fact of Bianca Rudolph’s cremation led a friend of hers to raise doubts with the FBI due to the deceased’s Catholic faith. That friend also raised the specter of the affair and alleged disputes over money. The government says the paramour gave the dentist an ultimatum to divorce his wife.
Milliron is also charged with lesser crimes as a co-defendant. Her relationship with Larry Rudolph was allegedly known to the deceased woman, the defense says, and their marriage was happy despite such dueling extramarital affairs over three-plus decades.
The couple had two children together – both of whom are reportedly standing with their father during the proceedings.
The superseding complaint against the dentist is available below:
[image via screengrab/CBS News]
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