A federal criminal complaint accused Lawrence Rudolph of killing his wife, Bianca Finizio Rudolph, during a 2016 Africa hunting trip. Authorities believe that Rudolph killed his wife so he could collect millions in insurance benefits and be with his mistress.
The couple had been married for 34 years at the time of her death.
The Pittsburgh-area dentist, who owns Three Rivers Dentistry, was arrested on Dec. 23 for the crimes. He is currently being held in federal detention and has pled not guilty to all charges.
Lawrence Rudolph was originally charged with one count of mail fraud when investigators decided to file their complaint for the death of Bianca Finizio Rudolph. FBI investigators allege that Rudolph shot his wife and quickly cremated her so he could collect over $4.8 million in life insurance.
Bianca Finizio Rudolph had nine life insurance policies, originally purchased in 1987, and at the time of her death they had been updated to make her husband the sole beneficiary.
His attorneys released a statement about their client and said that the FBI claims are false. They said, “This is an outrageous prosecution against Dr. Larry Rudolph, a man who loved his wife of 34 years and did not kill her. Back in 2016, his wife had a terrible accident during a hunting trip in Zambia. The investigators on the scene concluded it was an accident. Several insurance companies also investigated and agreed. Now, more than five years later, the government is seeking to manufacture a case against this well-respected and law-abiding dentist. Dr. Rudolph looks forward to his trial where he will demonstrate his innocence.”
According to reports, the death of Bianca Rudolph happened in 2016 when the couple was on a hunting trip in Africa. On the morning of October 11, 2016, Rudolph reported that his wife accidently shot herself in the chest when they were packing up their things.
The Pittsburgh dentist said he was in the bathroom while his wife was in the living area when he heard a gunshot. He later told Zambia police that Bianca was packing up their hunting rifle when the gun accidently went off and shot her in the chest.
Zambia police ruled the death an accident and said that Bianca died from hemorrhagic shock, a perforated lung, and a macerated heart.
Following his wife’s death, Rudolph called the U.S. Embassy. The consular chief that he spoke to later told the FBI that the Greensburg man was adamant that Bianca be cremated and that he wanted it done quickly. The consular chief felt like something was wrong so he went to the morgue where the body was being kept and took pictures before any evidence could be destroyed.
The man, a former U.S. Marine, concluded that Bianca Finizio Rudolph had to be shot at from a distance of 6.5 to 8 feet to match the wound patterns and evidence on her body.
A Colorado medical examiner later reviewed the evidence and concluded that it was impossible to shoot yourself with a large hunting rifle at the distance that Rudolph suggested.
“In my opinion, it would be physically impossible to accidentally fire this shotgun in it’s carrying case and produce the entrance defect noted on the body of Ms. Rudolph,” the medical examiner wrote. “The tip of the carrying case was most likely at least two feet from Ms. Randolph when the weapon was discharged regardless if it was on cylinder or full choke settings. Further, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Ms. Rudolph to reach the trigger of this weapon even if it was placed in the case with the muzzle pressed against her chest.”
Other people close to Lawrence and Bianca Rudolph also found the circumstances around her death to be a little odd. The couple’s personal hunting guide told the FBI that she saw Lawrence Rudolph bribe Zambia officials so Bianca’s cremation could be done quickly.
“Although familiar with bribes being paid in other contexts as the normal way business is conducted, she thought that these payments were odd under the circumstances,” said the federal criminal complaint.
When Lawrence Rudolph got back to the United States, he received over $4.8 million in life insurance and quickly moved in with his longtime mistress. His girlfriend was an employee at his dentist office and according to her they had been together for 15-20 years.
The mistress later told the FBI that she had given Lawrence Rudolph an ultimatum before he went to Africa. He had a year to divorce his wife and sell his business or she would leave him.
A friend of Bianca’s told the FBI that she suspected foul play because of Lawrence’s mistress and because she knew that Bianca would have never wanted to be cremated because of her religious beliefs.
According to a statement by the FBI, “[Friend] said Lawrence had been verbally abusive in the past and that the two had had fights about money,” the complaint states. “Friend also said she believed the cremation to have been against Bianca’s wishes because Bianca was a strict Catholic who had once expressed disapproval that friend’s husband was cremated. Similarly, friend stated, ‘Larry is never going to divorce her because he doesn’t want to lose his money, and she’s never going to divorce him because of her Catholicism.'”
Lawrence Rudolph’s trial is scheduled for Feb. 28. If found guilty of mail fraud he could receive up to 20 years in prison.