Dentist admits to killing his wife during argument with girlfriend, federal prosecutor says
DENVER (AP) — A wealthy dentist killed his 34-year-old wife with a gunshot at dawn on a remote African safari in 2016, raised nearly $5 million in insurance proceeds and then blurted out to her longtime lover that “I killed my f- –g wife for you!” a U.S. prosecutor told a jury on Wednesday during opening statements in the dentist’s murder trial.
The alleged confession came during an argument between Lawrence “Larry” Rudolph and his girlfriend, Lori Milliron, at a Phoenix steakhouse after learning in 2020 that the FBI was investigating the shooting death of his wife Bianca. Rudolph in a small cabin in Zambia, Assistant US Attorney Bishop Grewell said in a Denver courtroom.
“He killed his wife for HER!” Grewell said, pointing to Milliron, who is accused of lying to a grand jury and being an afterthought accomplice and is on trial alongside Rudolph.
Rudolph, 67, is charged with murder and mail fraud in what prosecutors describe as a premeditated crime. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of murder at the trial, which is being held in a Colorado courtroom because the insurance payments were based here.
Rodolphe proclaimed his innocence. He told Zambian police his wife died while he was in the bathroom, suggesting she killed herself trying to pack a shotgun the couple took on the trip.
“They chose speculation over science. They chose fiction over reality,” Rudolph’s attorney, David Markus, said in an equally impassioned opening statement.
Markus argued that the Rudolphs, parents of two, were in a happy marriage in 2016 which, over the years, had its ups and downs because the two had had extramarital affairs – but the two have continued to make frequent big game hunting trips. Bianca Rudolph had long been aware of her husband’s relationship with Milliron, he said.
Markus brought the couple’s adult children to court to tell jurors they were there to support their father, who, along with Milliron, paid close attention to opening statements.
Milliron’s attorney, John Dill, told jurors his client knew nothing of an alleged murder and suggested she was the victim of leading questions from investigators and the grand jury.
“This is not a trial for adultery,” Dill said.
No one witnessed the shotgun explosion in the cabin, Milliron’s attorney John Dill said. The shooting happened around 5 a.m. as local guides came and went to serve the couple coffee and help them prepare for the trip back to the United States, Markus said.
Within seconds, guides were inside, finding Rudolph distressed and in shock, Markus said. With support staff coming and going that morning, the cabin doors open and the blinds up, Rudolph wouldn’t have had time to shoot his wife, Markus explained.
Displaying a photo of the cabin – blood splattered on the floor, Bianca’s body covered in a white blanket with black stripes, a Browning 12-gauge shotgun inside a soft case nearby – Markus maintained that Bianca accidentally dropped the gun, triggering the fatal bullet through the heart, as she hastily packed for the trip while Larry Rudolph was in the bathroom.
Zambian authorities determined two days after the October 11, 2016 shooting that it was an accident, Markus said. The investigators of the insurers who then paid 4.8 million dollars came to the same conclusion.
Prosecutors counter that evidence shows his injuries were from a shot fired from a distance of 2 to 3.5 feet.
The government will prove that Rudolph, who built a small fortune with a dental franchise in Pennsylvania, killed Bianca after receiving an ultimatum from Milliron, a former hygienist and director of his office, that he divorce his wife, Grewell said .
Federal prosecutors, citing a US consular official and others in Zambia, said Rudolph was in a hurry to have his wife cremated before returning home. A friend of Bianca also told the FBI that she was suspicious because Bianca was a devout Catholic who allegedly opposed the practice.
But Markus showed jurors a copy of what he said was Bianca’s will stating she wanted to be cremated if she died.
Markus argued that Rudolph had no financial motive for the murder. His net worth was over $15 million at the time; the insurance proceeds went to a trust for their children, and a prenuptial agreement with Bianca specified that she would receive $2 million in the event of a divorce, he said.
Rudolph plans to testify during the three-week trial, Markus said.
“He has the truth on his side,” Rudolph said.
Markus also told jurors that Rudolph’s alleged admission of guilt at the Phoenix Restaurant was misheard by the witness. He claimed what his client actually said was, “‘They say I killed my fucking wife for you,'” Markus said.
“If that’s what this case is about, I can’t believe we’re going to be here for three weeks,” Markus said.
The case drew attention from Zambia to Pennsylvania to Arizona, where the Rudolphs – and later Rudolphs and Millirons – established a comfortable residence in the Phoenix-area enclave of Paradise Valley.
Rudolph had built a small fortune as a dentist and later owner of a dental sedation franchise in the Pittsburgh area. He was a regular on local television, advertising his services. He met Bianca at the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied dentistry, and they married in 1982.
The couple have made frequent trips abroad and visited Kafue National Park in 2016 so Bianca could fulfill her wish of catching a leopard.
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