Crime

Lawrence “Larry” Rudolph was convicted last summer of shooting his wife, Bianca Rudolph, with a Browning 12-gauge shotgun in 2016 while they were on a hunting trip in Zambia.

A woman and a man dressed in business attire exit a building
Margot Moss, left, and her co-counsel, David Oscar Markus, exit the federal courthouse after a judge handed down a sentence of life in prison and more than $15 million in penalties to their client, Larry Rudolph, the wealthy owner of a Pittsburgh-area dental franchise, for killing his wife at the end of an African safari in Zambia, during a sentencing hearing Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, in the federal courthouse in Denver. AP Photo/David Zalubowski

By Andrew Jeong, Washington Post

A dentist and big-game hunter who murdered his wife while the couple were in Africa has been sentenced to life in prison and ordered to pay millions of dollars in penalties.

Lawrence “Larry” Rudolph, 68, the founder of a dental franchise in Pennsylvania, was convicted last summer of shooting his wife, Bianca Rudolph, with a Browning 12-gauge shotgun in October 2016 while they were on a hunting trip in Zambia. Rudolph then collected almost $5 million from nine separate life insurance policies, for which he will serve a concurrent 20-year sentence.

On top of the prison sentences, Judge William J. Martinez ordered Rudolph to pay nearly $5 million in restitution, an additional fine of $2 million and a special assessment fee of $200. He was also ordered to forfeit assets obtained as a result of the crime. The Associated Press estimated the combined financial penalty to be more than $15 million.

“The defendant in this case thought he could murder his wife overseas and get away with it. He was wrong and will now be held accountable,” Mark Michalek, an FBI special agent involved in the case, said in a news release.

Rudolph has denied the murder charge, saying his wife accidentally shot herself while packing the couple’s belongings. Rudolph’s attorneys said in a short emailed statement after the sentencing that he is innocent. They will appeal the guilty verdict.

Lori Milliron, Rudolph’s girlfriend who prosecutors said encouraged the killing, was sentenced to 17 years in June for being an accessory to Bianca Rudolph’s death and for two counts of perjury before a grand jury. Milliron’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment early Tuesday. Milliron has appealed.

The Rudolphs left for Zambia in late September 2016. On the morning before their planned return to the United States, a gunshot rang out in their residence, according to a criminal complaint. Rudolph told local police and a U.S. diplomat that he had been in the bathroom when he heard the shot, and ran out to find his wife on the floor with a chest wound.

People near the Rudolphs’ bedroom ran to the scene after hearing a discharge of a firearm. They reported that they had found Rudolph yelling for help. Attempts to revive his wife and stop the bleeding were unsuccessful, according to the complaint.

In the following days, Rudolph appeared rushed to get his wife’s body cremated, despite Bianca Rudolph being a strict Catholic who friends suspected would be opposed to cremation, according to law enforcement officials. Lawrence Rudolph said at the time that the couple had previously agreed that they would be cremated, and that it was logistically easier to bring the body to the United States in a cremated state, according to investigators.

FBI officials noted travel and bank records showing Rudolph had carried out an extramarital affair with Milliron, who prosecutors said had given Rudolph an ultimatum to “leave Bianca.”

In early 2020, prosecutors said, a bartender heard Rudolph yelling at Milliron at a restaurant in Phoenix, saying that he had killed his wife for her.

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