PITTSBURGH — A former Greensburg-based dentist is accused of killing his wife with a shotgun while on an African safari in Zambia five years ago and collecting millions in life insurance.
Federal authorities charged Lawrence Rudolph, 67, on Dec. 22. He was in custody a day later while on a trip to Mexico.
Court documents, filed in Colorado, said Rudolph and his wife, Bianca, frequently went on hunting trips to Africa. In 2016, the criminal complaint said Rudolph’s wife wanted to kill a leopard and they had a Remington .375 and Browning 12-gauge with them.
Documents said the couple was unsuccessful in their hunt and were packing up to leave their hunting camp in the Kafue National Park when Bianca Rudolph was shot in the chest with the shotgun.
Lawrence Rudolph told Zambian investigators he was in the bathroom, heard the blast and found his wife bleeding on the floor. He suspected the gun had been left loaded from the hunt and went off as his wife was loading it in a case.
Court papers said on the day Bianca Rudolph died, her husband contacted the U.S. Embassy in Zambia to report the deadly incident. He reportedly turned the conversation to getting her body cremated and leaving the country quickly.
The consular chief, who had spent 20 years in the Marines, took photos of the gunshot wound and estimated the distance between the muzzle of the shotgun and Bianca Rudolph’s chest at between 6.5 and 8 feet apart. Documents said Lawrence Rudolph was “livid” at the consular chief’s actions.
A friend of Bianca Rudolph contacted an FBI office in South Africa about two weeks later asking for her death to be investigated further. The friend said Lawrence Rudolph had affairs in the past and was having one at the time his wife’s death.
FBI agents said Rudolph collected on nine insurance policies, totaling $4.8 million.
“This is an outrageous prosecution against Dr. Larry Rudolph, a man who loved his wife of 34 years and did not kill her,” Rudolph’s attorney, David Markus, told Channel 11′s news exchange partners at TribLIVE. “Dr. Rudolph looks forward to his trial, where he will demonstrate his innocence.”
A jury trial is scheduled for Feb. 28.
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