A Pennsylvania dentist and big game hunter was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars by a federal judge in Denver for shooting and killing his wife at the end of an African safari and then cashing in on her life insurance.
Lawrence “Larry” P. Rudolph, 68, was convicted of foreign murder by federal jurors in August 2022. The defendant has long-awaited sentencing over his conviction for the 2016 slaying of Bianca Rudolph, his wife of 34 years, who died in the Republic of Zambia.
“This result shows that no matter how much money, prestige, or power you have, you will be held accountable for your crimes,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado Cole Finegan said in a press release announcing the defendant’s punishment. “The fact that justice arrived today is no accident. It was part of a dedicated effort by public servants committed to the cause of justice. We are grateful to the attorneys, staff, and investigators who made today’s result possible.”
The defendant reportedly has a net worth in the area of some $15 million due to a successful chain of dental franchises he started in 2006. Prosecutors allege he aimed to balloon that sum with his wife’s insurance proceeds and live in luxury with this then-girlfriend.
Bianca Rudolph was fatally shot in the heart with a Browning 12-gauge shotgun during the early morning hours of Oct. 11, 2016 – the final day of the couple’s two-week-long hunting trip.
The victim’s husband conspired to make the shooting look like an accident by putting the fired gun back in its case. The defendant would go on to tell local police that he was in the bathroom of the couple’s cabin and his wife was in the bedroom when he heard a gunshot and found the dying woman on the ground bleeding from her chest.
The government’s theory of the case, and the one that convinced jurors, was largely premised on the notion that the distance Bianca Rudolph was shot from could not have been an accident.
“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 filed in December 2021 reads. “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 Zambian Police Service had previously concluded the victim’s death was an accident — the result of her failing to take proper safety precautions when packing up the gun and causing it to discharge.
Insurance companies would conduct their own investigations and settle for the accident version of the story. Larry Rudolph would go on to file nine separate life insurance claims with seven different companies and collect proceeds in excess of $4.8 million.
Crucially, amidst a domestic criminal investigation, the defendant would later make an alleged public admission that he murdered his wife for his then-mistress’ sake.
“I killed my f–––––– wife for you!” Larry Rudolph allegedly told his lover, according to a witness cited by the government, during an argument at a crowded steakhouse several years later.
Last year, Lori Milliron, 65, was convicted of perjury, being an accessory to murder after the fact, and obstructing a grand jury for her own role in the grim affair. Earlier this year, she was sentenced to 17 years in prison for being an accessory to the crime.
Larry Rudolph was also convicted on one count of mail fraud for collecting his wife’s fraudulent insurance proceeds.
For the financial crime conviction, he was ordered to pay back every dollar of the falsely obtained money in restitution, along with a fine of $2 million, and forfeit all of the assets he obtained as a result of the crime. He will also serve a sentence of 20 years that will run concurrent with his life sentence for murder.
“The defendant in this case thought he could murder his wife overseas and get away with it,” FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek said. “He was wrong and will now be held accountable for his actions.”
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Larry Rudolph sentenced for Biana Rudolph’s foreign murder
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