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Dentist Charged With Killing Wife On Safari To Be With Mistress, Collect Life Insurance

Attorneys for Pennsylvania dentist Dr. Lawrence P. Rudolph's have vehemently denied the allegations against him, calling them “outrageous." 

By Jill Sederstrom
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A big game hunter and Pennsylvania dentist has been accused of killing his wife on an African hunting safari in an elaborate plot to be with his long-time mistress and cash in on the more than $4.8 million in life insurance in his wife’s name.

Dr. Lawrence P. Rudolph, 67, is facing charges of murder and fraud in his wife's death. Investigators with the FBI allege that he killed his wife, Bianca Rudolph, on the final day of couple’s two-week hunting excursion in Zambia and then had her body cremated three days later in a rushed attempt to destroy evidence, according to an affidavit in the case obtained by The Daily Beast.

Lawrence’s attorneys have vehemently denied the allegations against him, calling them “outrageous,” local station KDKA reports.

Bianca was killed around 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 11, 2016 in the couple’s cabin in the Kafue National Park.

Lawrence told the Zambian Police that he had been in the bathroom when he heard a gun go off and rushed out to find his wife in the bedroom bleeding from a wound to the chest, according to the affidavit also obtained by Law & Crime.

“Lawrence told the Zambian Police he suspected the shotgun had been left loaded from the hunt the previous day and that the discharge occurred while she was trying to pack the shotgun into its case,” authorities wrote.

The couple’s professional hunting guide, who isn’t identified by name in the report, told police he had been in the camp’s dining hall completing some paperwork when he heard the gun go off and ran to the cabin to find Lawrence shouting and Bianca laying on the floor. He noted a shotgun was nearby in a partially zipped gun case. A Zambian game scout also told police he had been with the hunting guide in the dining hall when the shooting occurred.

Police determined that Bianca, who was an accomplished hunter and had hoped to kill a leopard on the trip, died because she failed to take the proper safety precautions while packing the gun, the affidavit alleges.

On the day his wife died, authorities said, Lawrence called the U.S. Embassy in Zambia around 4:30 p.m. to report that his wife had died of an “accidental gunshot wound.” The consular chief told U.S. investigators that Lawrence “quickly turned the conversation to the issue of cremating Bianca’s body before leaving the country,” court documents state.

The consular chief told the FBI that he had a “bad feeling about the situation” and believed everything was moving too quickly. As a result, on Oct. 13 — before the body was cremated — the consular chief went to the funeral hometo view the body. There, he took photos and measurements of the chest wound, which he described as being “straight to the heart,” authorities wrote.

After looking at the wound, the consular chief said he believed that the gun would have had to be about 6.5 feet to 8 feet away when the bullet struck Bianca.

When he got back to the embassy, he told authorities, he got a call from Lawrence who was “livid” that he had photographed the body.

When they met in person the next day, the consular chief told investigators Lawrence declined any offers to reach out to the couple’s children and at some point told the chief that it was possible his wife had committed suicide with the shotgun, according to the affidavit.  

Despite his account to Zambia Police, FBI investigators believe Lawrence killed his wife in a premediated plan to eliminate her and free himself up to live with his mistress.

Their investigation began just weeks after Bianca’s death, when one of her friends called authorities to report that “she suspected foul play” because she knew Lawrence “had been involved in prior extramarital affairs and had been having an affair at the time of Bianca’s death.” Despite the alleged infidelities, she said divorce would have never been a likely option for the couple.

“Larry is never going to divorce her because he doesn’t want to lose his money, and she’s never going to divorce him because of her Catholicism,” she reportedly told authorities.

The friend described Lawrence as having a past history of verbal abuse and said the couple’s children didn’t find out about their mother’s death until a week after she was killed, according to the court documents.

She believed her friend would have never wanted to be cremated because she was a strict Catholic.

The professional hunting guide’s ex-wife also told authorities that she thought the cremation “seemed rushed” and that money had been exchanged to expedite the cremation which seemed “odd under the circumstances,” the affidavit alleges.

Authorities found an estimated $4.88 million in life insurance policies that listed Lawrence as the primary beneficiary.

As investigators delved into Lawrence’s past, they allegedly learned from a staff member at his Three Rivers Dental Center that he had been having a long-term affair with a woman who had served as the dental center’s manager for 15 to 20 years.

The woman said the girlfriend — who later moved in with Lawrence in early 2017, shortly after his wife was killed — had once told her she gave Lawrence “an ultimatum of one year to sell his dental offices and leave Bianca,” authorities allege.

Investigators also don’t believe that the forensic evidence matched with an accidental shooting and said that, in a series of tests with volunteers of a similar size and arm length, that none of the volunteers were able to pull the trigger while the shotgun was pointed at a 90-degree angle toward their chest.

A Colorado medical examiner also examined photos of the body and concluded “it would be physically impossible to accidentally fire this shotgun in its carrying case” and produce the wound that killed Bianca, according to the affidavit.

However, in a statement to local station KDKA, Lawrence’s attorneys insisted her death was an accident.

“This is an outrageous prosecution against Dr. Larry Rudolph, a man who loved his wife of 34 years and did not kill her. Back in 2016, his wife had a terrible accident during a hunting trip in Zambia,” the statement said. “The investigators on the scene concluded it was an accident. Several insurance companies also investigated and agreed. Now, more than five years later, the government is seeking to manufacture a case against this well-respected and law abiding dentist. Dr. Rudolph looks forward to his trial where he will demonstrate his innocence.”

Oxygen.com also reached out to Lawrence’s attorneys but did not receive an immediate response.