Dentist Killed His Wife on an African Hunting Trip, U.S. Says

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Lawrence Rudolph collected astir $4.9 cardinal successful beingness security benefits aft the fatal shooting of his wife, Bianca, successful Zambia successful 2016, according to tribunal documents. He has pleaded not guilty.

Bianca Rudolph was killed successful  Kafue National Park successful  Zambia successful  2016 portion    she was connected  safari with her hubby  to hunt leopards, the authorities said.
Credit...Foto Mous/Shutterstock

Neil Vigdor

Jan. 18, 2022, 5:46 p.m. ET

Bianca Rudolph, an American large crippled hunter, traveled with her hubby to Zambia, successful confederate Africa, successful 2016, determined to adhd a leopard to her trophy collection.

But Ms Rudolph ne'er made it home. She died from a fatal shotgun blast “straight connected the heart” successful a distant hunting compartment wherever the mates had been staying, according to tribunal documents.

Lawrence Rudolph, her hubby of 34 years, told investigators that a Browning 12-gauge shotgun went disconnected by mishap arsenic she was packing it away. The authorities said their suspicions were aroused erstwhile helium sought to person her assemblage rapidly cremated.

The consular conception main astatine the U.S. Embassy successful Lusaka, the Zambian capital, “told the F.B.I. helium had a atrocious feeling astir the situation, which helium thought was moving excessively quickly,” Donald Peterson, an F.B.I. peculiar agent, wrote successful a transgression affidavit that was precocious unsealed.

Dr. Rudolph, a dentist with a signifier successful Greensburg, Pa., extracurricular Pittsburgh, collected astir $4.9 cardinal successful beingness security benefits successful the months aft Ms. Rudolph’s death, which the F.B.I. present says helium orchestrated.

The authorities arrested Dr. Rudolph, 67, successful precocious December and charged him with 1 number of execution of a U.S. nationalist successful a overseas state and 1 number of message fraud, according to the recently unsealed tribunal documents.

He pleaded not blameworthy successful national tribunal successful Colorado connected Jan. 6 and remains successful national detention, which helium is contesting. Dr. Rudolph maintains that Ms. Rudolph’s decease was an accident.

“This is an outrageous prosecution against Dr. Larry Rudolph, a antheral who loved his woman of 34 years and did not termination her,” David Oscar Markus, a lawyer for Dr. Rudolph, said successful a connection connected Tuesday.

If convicted connected the execution charge, Dr. Rudolph faces a maximum punishment of beingness successful situation oregon the decease penalty. The message fraud complaint carries a maximum situation condemnation of 20 years. A 15-day assemblage proceedings is expected to statesman connected Feb. 28.

Investigators said that Dr. Rudolph was having successful an extramarital matter astatine the clip of his wife’s decease and had made adjustments to the beingness security policies for her that aforesaid year.

About 3 months aft Ms. Rudolph’s death, Dr. Rudolph’s woman moved into the location successful Arizona wherever the Rudolphs had moved a fewer years earlier, investigators said. The enforcement manager of the assemblage relation told the F.B.I. that Dr. Rudolph and his woman had offered $3.5 cardinal for different location successful the aforesaid subdivision.

At the clip of the shooting, the Rudolphs had traveled to the Kafue National Park successful Zambia, an country astir the size of New Jersey that is fashionable with safari operators. It is location to an array of wildlife, including leopards, cheetahs, hippos, lions and uncommon antelopes.

A hunting usher and a crippled scout told investigators that they rushed to the Rudolphs’ compartment connected the greeting of Oct. 11, 2016, aft proceeding a gunshot and recovered Ms. Rudolph bleeding from the near broadside of her chest.

Dr. Rudolph explained that his woman indispensable person discharged the shotgun arsenic she was trying to enactment it successful its case, the authorities said astatine the time. The Zambia Police Service determined that the “firearm was loaded from the erstwhile hunting activities and the Normal Safety Precautions astatine the clip of packing the firearm were not taken into information causing the firearm to accidentally fire,” according to a summary cited successful national tribunal documents.

Based connected the gunshot wound, the F.B.I. and U.S. consular officials concluded that Ms. Rudolph had been changeable from a region of 6.5 feet to 8 feet. When they tried to reconstruct the shooting, they determined that it was highly improbable that she had accidentally pulled the trigger connected the shotgun.

The apical consular authoritative told an F.B.I. researcher that Dr. Rudolph had inquired astir Zambia’s privateness laws and pushed to person his wife’s assemblage cremated immediately, saying it would beryllium “challenging” to person it flown to the United States. However, Agent Peterson wrote successful the affidavit that Dr. Rudolph “frequently arranged for the proscription of animals hunted connected his travel to beryllium transported backmost to the United States,” a process that helium added is often “cumbersome, costly and time-consuming.”

A small much than 2 weeks aft Ms. Rudolph’s death, a person of hers contacted an F.B.I. authoritative astatine the U.S. embassy successful Pretoria, South Africa, and asked the bureau to analyse the shooting, tribunal documents said. The friend, who was not identified, said it would beryllium highly improbable that Ms. Rudolph, who was Catholic, would person wanted to beryllium cremated.

Shortly aft Ms. Rudolph’s funeral, Dr. Rudolph bought his woman a level summons to alert from Pittsburgh to Arizona, the F.B.I. said. The summons was aboriginal canceled, but helium purchased different summons for an unidentified pistillate to alert to Las Vegas, wherever fiscal records showed that Dr. Rudolph had paid for a edifice room, according to the affidavit.

Mr. Markus, Dr. Rudolph’s lawyer, declined to reply questions astir the authorities of his client’s matrimony to Ms. Rudolph oregon whether helium had remarried. In his statement, helium said that Zambian authorities had determined that Ms. Rudolph’s decease was an accident, a uncovering that helium said had been corroborated by the security companies.

“Now, much than 5 years later, the authorities is seeking to manufacture a lawsuit against this well-respected and law-abiding dentist,” Mr. Markus said. “Dr. Rudolph looks guardant to his proceedings wherever helium volition show his innocence.”

Justice Department officials declined to remark further astir the lawsuit connected Tuesday.

As portion of a question seeking Dr. Rudolph’s release, 2 of his big children signed affidavits saying that they believed him to beryllium guiltless and that helium did not airs a formation risk. They said that keeping him successful custody created a wellness hazard for Dr. Rudolph, who has a pacemaker.

Seamus Hughes contributed research.

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