In late September 2016, the couple traveled from their Phoenix residence to the southern African nation of Zambia, the place Bianca Rudolph was decided so as to add a leopard to her assortment of animal trophies. They carried two weapons for the hunt: a Remington .375 rifle and a Browning 12-gauge shotgun.
After killing different animals throughout the two-week journey — however not a leopard — Bianca Rudolph by no means made it residence. She suffered a deadly shotgun blast of their searching cabin at daybreak as she was packing to return to Phoenix, federal prosecutors allege in courtroom paperwork.
Now Lawrence Rudolph, 67, is charged with international homicide and mail fraud within the dying of his spouse of 30 years. He has pleaded not responsible, and took the stand in his personal protection this week at his trial in Denver, CNN affiliate KMGH reported.
“I didn’t kill my spouse. I couldn’t homicide my spouse. I might not homicide my spouse,” he instructed jurors.
Rudolph instructed investigators he heard the shot whereas he was within the toilet and believed the shotgun unintentionally went off as she was placing it in its case, courtroom paperwork say. He discovered her bleeding on the ground of their cabin at Kafue Nationwide Park, he says.
However federal prosecutors allege Rudolph killed his spouse for insurance coverage cash and to be along with his girlfriend.
CNN has reached out to Rudolph’s lawyer, David Markus, however has not heard again.
In a movement Markus filed in January itemizing his consumer’s property, he stated Rudolph had no monetary motive to kill his spouse. Within the courtroom doc, he famous that Rudolph is price hundreds of thousands, together with a dental apply close to Pittsburgh valued at $10 million.
Life insurance coverage firms primarily based in Colorado paid Rudolph over $4.8 million after his spouse’s dying, in keeping with courtroom paperwork.
The frenzy to cremate his spouse sparked suspicion, investigators say
In courtroom paperwork, investigators allege Rudolph rapidly sought to cremate his spouse’s physique in Zambia after the capturing.
Rudolph scheduled a cremation three days after her dying, in keeping with courtroom paperwork. After he reported her dying to the US Embassy within the Zambian capital of Lusaka, the consular chief “instructed the FBI he had a nasty feeling in regards to the state of affairs, which he thought was shifting too rapidly,” FBI particular agent Donald Peterson wrote within the prison affidavit.
Consequently, the consular chief and two different embassy officers went to the funeral residence the place the physique was being held to take images and protect any potential proof. When Rudolph discovered the embassy officers had taken photographs of his spouse’s physique, he was “furious,” Peterson wrote.
Rudolph initially instructed the consular chief that his spouse could have died by suicide, however an investigation by Zambian legislation enforcement dominated it an unintentional discharge, Peterson wrote. Zambian investigators concluded that the firearm was loaded from the earlier searching actions and regular security precautions weren’t taken, inflicting it to unintentionally fireplace within the deadly incident, in keeping with courtroom paperwork.
Investigators for the insurers reached an analogous conclusion and paid on the insurance policies.
“Zambian authorities and 5 insurers decided that Bianca Rudolph died unintentionally. Witnesses instructed the FBI that Dr. Rudolph did nothing to intrude within the investigation. No bodily proof helps the federal government’s homicide principle,” Markus wrote within the January movement.
The suspect wished to be along with his girlfriend, prosecutors allege
However federal investigators say there’s extra to the story.
Rudolph orchestrated his spouse’s dying as a part of a scheme to defraud life insurance coverage firms and to permit him to stay brazenly along with his girlfriend, the FBI alleges.
Federal authorities obtained concerned after a buddy of the sufferer reached out to the FBI and requested the company to analyze the dying as a result of she suspected foul play. The buddy stated Rudolph had been concerned in extramarital affairs prior to now and had a girlfriend on the time of his spouse’s dying.
Rudolph’s then-girlfriend, who was not named within the courtroom paperwork, labored as a supervisor at his dental apply close to Pittsburgh, and instructed a former worker that she’d been relationship him for 15 to twenty years, Peterson wrote. The previous worker instructed the FBI that the girlfriend instructed her she gave Rudolph an ultimatum of 1 12 months to promote his dental places of work and go away his spouse, courtroom paperwork allege.
Three months after Bianca Rudolph’s dying, the girlfriend moved in with him, Peterson wrote in courtroom paperwork. An govt director of their subdivision’s group affiliation instructed investigators that Rudolph and his girlfriend tried to purchase one other residence in the identical subdivision for $3.5 million.
Her wounds did not mirror an unintentional discharge, FBI says
Courtroom paperwork additionally allege that proof exhibits Bianca Rudolph’s wounds got here from a shot fired from no less than two toes away.
“An FBI particular agent performed testing to find out, by comparability to images from the scene of the dying, the approximate place of the shotgun muzzle throughout the tender case on the time of discharge, in addition to the ensuing shot patterns created by firing the shotgun with the case over the barrel at varied distances,” the prison criticism states.
A forensic medical expert decided the patterns matching the wound noticed in images of the physique had been created by a shot from a distance of between two and three-and-a-half toes.
“At that distance, there may be motive to consider that Bianca Rudolph was not killed by an unintentional discharge as said,” the criticism states.
Bianca and Lawrence Rudolph moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona about 4 years earlier than her dying. Rudolph’s dental apply remained in Pennsylvania, and he commuted forwards and backwards from his Phoenix residence.
Federal authorities allege his spouse’s homicide was premeditated so “he might falsely declare the dying was the results of an accident.”
However Markus has accused federal officers of counting on “shaky proof.” Rudolph’s two kids are assured their father didn’t kill their mom, Markus stated, and so they’ve signed affidavits in his help.
If convicted of homicide, Rudolph faces a most of life in jail or the dying penalty.