She Died on African Hunting Trip. 5 Years Later, Husband Is Arrested

Lawrence Rudolph faces murder, mail fraud charges
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2022 2:29 AM CST
Updated Jan 22, 2022 5:15 PM CST
Dentist Charged With Murdering His Wife During Hunting Trip in Africa
Kafue National Park.   (Getty Images / Cassandra Moons)

(Newser) – A US woman was fatally shot during a hunting trip in Africa in 2016—and now, more than five years later, her husband stands charged with her murder. Lawrence Rudolph, a dentist who practiced in Pennsylvania and also lived in Arizona, was arrested in late December and this month pleaded not guilty in federal court, the New York Times reports. Rudolph told authorities that his wife, Bianca, was packing away her 12-gauge shotgun in Zambia on the morning of Oct. 11, 2016, when it went off accidentally, hitting her on the left side of her chest. But the FBI and US consular officials ultimately found she'd been shot from 6.5 to 8 feet away, making it unlikely she'd been holding the gun when it discharged. It would also have been difficult for the 5'4" woman to shoot herself with a 3.7-foot-long gun, they said.

Also creating suspicion was the fact that Rudolph worked to have her body quickly cremated because, he claimed, it would be difficult to have it flown to the US. That seemed strange because he had "frequently" gone through the "cumbersome, expensive and time-consuming" process of having animals killed during his hunting trips to be brought to the US—and also because a friend of Bianca Rudolph's contacted the FBI after her death to say that as a staunch Catholic, the woman would likely not have wanted to be cremated. And then there was Rudolph's personal life.

The now-67-year-old was involved in a years-long affair with the manager of his dental practice when his wife of 34 years died, and had also adjusted the life insurance policies for his wife that year. Within months of his wife's death, he'd collected almost $4.9 million in life insurance from seven different insurance companies, and his girlfriend had moved into the Arizona home where the Rudolphs had moved a few years prior. But his lawyers tell CBS Pittsburgh Rudolph had no financial motive to kill his wife because they had a prenuptial agreement and he would not have been out much money in the event of a divorce. His dental practice, they add, is valued at nearly $8 million. Rudolph is currently being held without bail, but his lawyer has filed to have him released as he awaits trial, NBC News reports. (Read more murder stories.)

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