“Run, Bambi, Run”
Lawrencia Bembenek was born on 15 August 1958 and served with the Milwaukee Police Department before she was sacked in September 1980, after which she sued the force for sex discrimination. She got a job as a waitress at the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Playboy club. Bembenek was married, on St Valentine’s Day 1981, to Elfred “Fred” Schultz, a detective with the Milwaukee Police.
He had been previously married to Christine, by whom he had two sons, Sean and Shannon, something that Bembenek found difficult to deal with. On 28 May 1981 Christine Schultz, 30, was shot to death in her Milwaukee home. Her sons, who were present for the crime, described the attacker as a man in a mask with black shoes and a green army jacket.
The first suspect was Fred Schultz who had, on 23 July 1975, accidentally shot and killed a fellow policeman but had been cleared of any wrongdoing. However, he had an alibi for the night his ex-wife was killed. The police then arrested Bembenek.
They alleged that she wanted Christine Schultz dead so that her husband could stop paying her alimony ($363.50 plus $330 child support) and spend the money on Bembenek instead. The prosecution said that only Bembenek had the means, motive and opportunity, that she had financial problems and that the murder weapon was Bembenek’s husband’s off-duty pistol.
Schultz’s eldest son said that Bembenek was not the person he had seen kill his mother but Bembenek did not have an alibi for the time of the murder. On 24 June 1981 she was arrested for murder. In March 1982 she was found guilty and sentenced to life in Tavcheedah Correctional Institution.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Thursday 28 May 1981
Bembenek appealed three times for a new trial but each time her petition was denied. On 15 July 1990 she escaped from prison, helped by her fiancé Nick Gugliatto, the brother of a fellow prisoner. They ran to Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, and spent three months free before they were caught.
Her escape became the subject of a film with tagline “Run, Bambi, Run”. On her return to prison she was given a new trial at which she pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and was sentenced to time served. She was released from prison in November 1992, having served a little over ten years.
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In the time she has been out of prison Bembenek has been arrested on drugs charges, filed for bankruptcy, developed hepatitis C and become an alcoholic.
In 2002 her leg was amputated below the knee after she fell or jumped from a second-storey window. In April 2008 Bembenek asked for her murder conviction to be quashed. Her appeal was denied in June 2008. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.