Laurie Bembenek

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
Date of Crime:  May 28, 1981

Lawrencia Bembenek, also known as Bambi, was convicted of murdering Christine Schultz, her husband's ex-wife. Bambi's husband Fred Schultz was a police officer as was his ex-wife. Bambi had become a police officer and was stunned by the amount of graft going on in the department: officers selling pornography from their cars, accepting oral sex from hookers, frequenting drug hangouts, and harassing minorities.

When Bambi was fired for supposedly knowing that another officer had marijuana at a rock concert, she filed a lawsuit, charging discrimination. In Oct. 1980, she came into possession of photos of male police officers dancing nude in a public park. She gave them to Internal Affairs. She was also at the heart of a federal investigation into the misuse of department funds.

Bambi, then 21, had once posed in a slinky dress for a beer calendar and had worked for a few weeks as a waitress at a Playboy Club. Because of this, the crime became a media sensation. Fred owned an off-duty gun that was stored in his and Bambi's apartment. Shortly after the murder, Fred had his partner check it out. The partner determined that the gun had not been fired, but he did not record the serial number. Two weeks later, it was determined that the murder was performed with Fred's gun. Fred had an alibi for the time of the murder. Although three other people had access to the apartment, Bambi was charged with the murder because she claimed she was at home sleeping that night. Bambi was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Years later, it was discovered from autopsy photos that the murder weapon could not have been Fred's gun. The barrel of the murder weapon left a burn mark when it was fired at point-blank range into the victim. This burn mark could not have been produced by Fred's gun.

After Fred divorced her, Bambi became engaged to the brother of a fellow inmate. With his help, she escaped prison in 1990, and the two ran north to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Many people in Milwaukee sided with her and supported her escape. Most said that, should they see her, they would not turn her in. People protested openly on her behalf and even came up with a song, “Run, Bambi, Run.”

Three months later, a tourist who had seen a story about Bambi on America's Most Wanted recognized her fiancé and turned the couple in. The Canadian police arrested the couple just minutes before they were set to flee again. On Bambi's return to Wisconsin, a judicial inquiry was convened that excluded the district attorney. The inquiry detailed seven major police blunders during the investigation. Bambi cut a deal in 1992 that let her off with time served in exchange for a no contest plea.


References:  Crime Library, American Justice, 50 Wisconsin Crimes of the Century

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Wisconsin Cases, Police Officer Murder Cases, Police Officer Defendants, Favorite Case Stories