Jury selection has begun in the trial of Lawrence Rudolph, a dentist and big game enthusiast from Pennsylvania who is accused of murdering his wife during a scenic African vacation and then pocketing nearly $5 million in insurance proceeds.
Rudolph, a former head of an international safari club and founder of Three Rivers Dental in Pittsburgh, is charged with mail fraud and international murder in relation to the death of his wife, Bianca Finizio Rudolph. The couple traveled to Zambia at the end of September 2016 in order to enjoy safaris and hunting excursions together.
The phrase Lawrence Rudolph
Both were big-game hunters, and Bianca hoped to bag a leopard during their expedition. Instead, she was fatally shot in the chest with a Browning shotgun as she prepared to leave her hunting camp in Kafue National Park on the morning of October 11, 2016. Rudolph told authorities that he was in the shower at the time of the explosion, but that he heard the explosion and found his wife on the ground and bleeding.
Rudolph stated in the criminal complaint filed in federal court in Colorado last year that the shot was fired while she was attempting to pack the shotgun into its case. He has maintained for a long time that her death was accidental and had her remains cremated in Zambia before returning to the United States, where he filed claims with seven different insurance companies for nearly $5 million in payouts.
The trial is being held in Colorado because several insurers involved in the payout are headquartered there.
Bianca’s friend contacted the FBI, informing them that Rudolph was having an affair at the time of his wife’s death, despite the fact that local authorities ruled her death accidental. The friend further asserted that Bianca would not have desired cremation due to her strong religious beliefs. It was sufficient to warrant an investigation.
The maximum penalty for the federal murder charge is life in prison or the death penalty. Mail fraud carries a maximum 20 years. Additionally, fines and other conditions could be imposed.