Laurie Bembeneck: Gorgeous ex-cop and playboy bunny who was convicted for the murder of her husband’s former wife and became America’s most infamous fugitive.
Christine & Lea Papin: The Pain sisters were considered the perfect domestic help, until the day they went feral and turned on their employers.
Sylvia Seegrist: Everyone thought Sylvia Seegrist was a harmless kook – until the day she showed up at the mall brandishing an assault rifle.
Mary Wilson: A black widow with a twist, the elderly Wilson did
not kill for money but rather to facilitate her quest for true love.
Joanna Dennehy: Mother-of-two Dennehy embarked on a campaign of apparently motiveless murders, stabbing and slashing three men to death.
Andrea Yates: A troubled young woman finds the burden of caring for her five children too much to bear. Her solution to the problem will shock you to the core.
Theresa Cross: How far will a mother go to maintain control over her children? As far as torture? As far as murder?
Dorothea Puente: Notorious American serial killer who turned her Sacramento boarding house into a lucrative murder-for-profit enterprise.
Click the "Read More" link below to read the first chapter of
Deadly Women Volume 2
“You stay here,” he growled. “Don’t leave your room.” Then, like a phantom, he tiptoed across the carpeted floor and into the hallway. In that brief glimpse, Sean took in two important details about the man. He had long, reddish hair, drawn into a ponytail. And he wore black shoes similar to the ones favored by Sean’s father, a Milwaukee police officer.
Sean, terrified by the brief encounter, was momentarily uncertain what to do. The stranger had headed down the hall toward his mother’s bedroom. Steeling himself, the boy swung his legs out of bed and crept across the room to wake his brother.
The intruder, meanwhile, had entered the master bedroom where Christine Schultz lay sleeping. Shaking the woman roughly awake, he shoved a short-barreled .38 revolver into her face and told her to be quiet if she wanted her sons to live. Then he produced a length of plastic-coated clothesline and tied her hands in front of her, leaving her lying on her side, facing him. Christine had done everything she’d been asked and had put up no resistance. That, apparently, was not enough to appease the attacker. He shifted the gun and placed it directly against her chest. In the bedroom down the hall, the boys heard their mother cry out, “Oh God, no, please don’t do that!” Then came the ugly, flat report of the revolver. The boys raced out into the hallway, just in time to see the stranger emerge from their mother’s room, stuffing something into his pocket as he walked. Without saying a word, he hustled past them and down the stairs. Moments later, they heard the front door slam.
It was Sean who phoned for help, placing a call to his mother’s boyfriend, Stewart Honeck, a Milwaukee police officer. Honeck immediately called for backup and then headed for Christine’s house, getting there just as two police cruisers screeched to a halt outside. Honeck was the first to see Christine, noting right away that she wasn’t breathing. She was lying on her right side, her hands bound in front of her with a clothesline-type cord, a blue bandanna wrapped around her head, her yellow t-shirt bearing a ragged, blood-encrusted bullet hole. An autopsy would later reveal that she’d been killed by a single .38 slug that had entered just below the shoulder and followed a downward trajectory towards the heart. The muzzle of the weapon had been in contact with her chest when it was fired.
Even before those details emerged, the police had uncovered some intriguing clues at the crime scene. They had a description of the suspect, who the boys described as a tall man wearing a green running suit and a military-style fatigue jacket. The man had worn a ski mask, but he had long reddish hair, worn in a ponytail, that trailed out of the back of the mask. He’d also worn “police shoes,” according to Sean. The kind that his father wore, the kind that all Milwaukee cops wore. That piece of evidence left detectives in a potentially difficult situation. Were they investigating one of their own?
The obvious suspects were Christine’s ex-husband, Elfred “Fred” Schultz, and her current boyfriend, Stewart Honeck, both of who were cops. The two men had once been friends, but Honeck’s relationship with Christine had driven a wedge between them. The Schultzes divorce had been acrimonious and Fred Schultz resented his wife entertaining her new lover in the house that he had built. Was that, maybe, the motive? Perhaps, but Fred Schultz had a cast-iron alibi. At the time of the murder, he’d been investigating a burglary in another part of town. His partner backed him up.
What then of Stewart Honeck? According to his account of events, he’d had dinner at Christine’s and had then sat watching TV for a while after Christine put the boys to bed. Christine had driven him home at around 11:30 and later they’d spent some time talking on the phone. Then, he’d gone to bed. It did not amount to an alibi as such, but Honeck also did not have a motive. He was, by all accounts, in love with Christine and had recently asked her to marry him.
So if neither of the men in Christine’s life was the killer, then who was? While canvassing the neighborhood, detectives heard of a local weirdo named Gil Mende, who was often seen wearing a green running suit like that worn by the killer and who was apparently obsessed with Christine. Mende was questioned but never considered a serious suspect. The investigation appeared to have stalled.
Then came a startling turn of events. It emerged that Fred Schultz had lied about his alibi. The burglary that he and his partner had supposedly investigated on the night of the shooting had actually been picked up by another team of detectives.
Not wanting to alert Schultz to this latest piece of intelligence, investigators brought in his partner. Under questioning, the man quickly cracked and admitted that the alibi had been a lie. However, he insisted that it had not been intended to cover up a murder, but rather the fact that he and Schultz had been drinking in a downtown Milwaukee bar while on duty. That story checked out – sort of. Staff at the bar could recall Schultz being there but no one could recall what time he left. It was time to bring Fred Schultz in for questioning.
Interrogating a fellow detective is always difficult for investigators, much like a magician trying to outfox a fellow illusionist with a trick. None of the usual tactics are likely to work. The investigators, therefore, got straight down to it, asking Schultz outright if he’d killed his ex-wife. Schultz insisted that he hadn’t and offered to take a polygraph. The investigators were happy to take him up on that offer.
The results of that session, as it turned out, would veer the case in an entirely different direction. Shultz passed every question put to him with flying colors, all except one, the question of whether anyone but he had access to his gun safe. He answered “No,” sending the needle off the charts. Following up on that piece of information, detectives obtained a warrant for his personal revolver and test fired it. The results confirmed that this was the weapon that had killed Christine Schultz. And as Fred Schultz apparently had an alibi, that left just one possible suspect, his new wife Laurie.
Lawrencia “Laurie” Bembenek was an interesting woman. Beautiful and intelligent, she was the daughter of a police officer and had once served on the force herself. However, this was in an era when female officers were generally frowned upon, and Laurie soon found herself at odds with her fellow officers and also with the hierarchy. Unlike other female cops, Laurie was not prepared to keep her head below the precipice and simply ignore the barrage of discriminatory behavior directed at her on a daily basis. She took a stand, reporting the abuse and also other incidents of corruption she uncovered. Evidence was passed to the authorities showing cops selling drugs and pornography, cops taking money and sex in exchange for favors. None of these revelations resulted in action being taken. Instead, the machine turned on Bembenek herself. After her former roommate, Judy Zess, reported that she and Laurie had smoked a joint together at a rock concert, Bembenek was given a choice, hand in her badge or face an inquiry and possible dismissal. Disgusted, she resigned from the force.
After quitting the Milwaukee PD, Bembenek worked for a brief time as a waitress at a Lake Geneva Playboy Club. It was there that she acquired the nickname “Bambi” which would later be widely used by the press (and which she reportedly hated). She later found work as a security guard at Marquette University. It was while working there that she met Fred Schultz, fresh from his acrimonious divorce and eager to get back in the saddle. He aggressively pursued Laurie for three months before she agreed to be his wife. They were married on January 30, 1981.
What Laurie didn’t realize, perhaps, was the baggage that her marriage to Fred entailed. His divorce from Christine had been extremely bitter, with Fred having to hand over the family home, as well as $700 a month in child support. Laurie, according to some accounts, resented Fred having to part with this money. One witness even came forward to suggest that she’d been trying to recruit a hitman to kill Christine. To the cops, this sounded like motive. And as Bembenek also had access to the murder weapon and to the Schultz residence (her husband, Fred, still had a set of keys), she was elevated to the top of the suspect list. The final piece of evidence was the discovery of a reddish-brown wig in the plumbing system at Bembenek’s apartment building.
Laurie Bembenek was taken into custody on June 24, 1981, and despite her vociferous protestations of innocence, she was charged with the murder of Christine Schultz. Her trial, in March 1982, would last for three weeks, with the judge noting in his summation that he’d never come across a prosecution that relied so strongly on circumstantial evidence. That observation notwithstanding, Laurie Bembenek was found guilty of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison at Wisconsin’s Taycheedah Correctional Institution. There were three separate appeals, all of which Bembenek lost.
There are many reasons to believe that Laurie Bembenek got a bad rap - two sets of unidentified fingerprints found at the crime scene, for example, were never identified; Christine Schultz had blood under her fingernails, suggesting that she’d scratched her killer, yet Bembenek had no visible scratches in the days after the crime; the wig shop owner, who’d testified that Bembenek had purchased a reddish wig from her shop, paying by check, was proven to be wrong; Bembenek did not even have a checking account.
In addition, there were weaknesses in the prosecution case which the defense should have seized on but failed to do. The “expert” called to give evidence on hairs found on the victim was not an expert at all but had only six weeks training in forensics; blood found at the scene was not examined; neither were Bembenek’s police-issue shoes, as supposedly worn by the killer; Frederick Horenburger, a convicted felon whose M.O. exactly matched the Schultz killing and who had bragged in prison that he’d committed the crime, was never presented as an alternate suspect; Bembenek’s former friend, Judy Zess, was later proven to have committed perjury on the stand.
None of this made any difference to Laurie Bembenek. She was locked up for life, and although the prospect of parole hadn’t been ruled out, she was likely to be a very old woman before she ever walked free. Then, ten years into her sentence, an opportunity opened up and Bembenek took it, escaping through an unbarred laundry window on July 15, 1990. With the help of Nick Gugliatto, who she’d met while he was visiting another prisoner, she fled to Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Many people in Milwaukee believed that Bembenek had gotten a raw deal and supported her escape. It was common, at that time, to see bumper stickers with the slogan “Run, Bambi, Run,” and there were even rallies held in support of her. However, Bambi’s freedom would be short-lived. Three months after her escape, she was spotted by an American tourist who reported her to the Canadian authorities. Despite a plea for refugee status (on the basis that she was being persecuted by the police department and judicial system of Wisconsin), she was returned to the United States.
Bembenek’s flight had, however, achieved one thing. It had forced an inquiry into the original police investigation. Seven major blunders were highlighted, any one of which might have negated the decision to charge Bembenek with murder. Rather than risk a retrial, the state offered a deal, allowing Bembenek to plead “no contest” to a charge of second-degree murder in return for a reduced sentence, amounting to time served. Bembenek accepted and walked free.
The case of Bambi Bembenek has become one of the most widely covered in American history, spawning a couple of movies, a TV mini-series, and several books. Laurie Bembenek herself was to become somewhat of a celebrity. After her release, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside with an honors degree in Humanities; she wrote a book about her case called “Woman on Trial” and did a book tour which included an appearance on Oprah; she became a sought-after speaker and an artist who showed her paintings at a number of galleries.
But as the case faded from public awareness, so too did the invitations and the galas, and eventually Laurie fell on hard times. She began living with a drug dealer and was arrested on possession charges, spending two weeks in prison. Then she contracted Hepatitis C. Eventually, she moved to Washington State where, almost penniless, she tried to start a new life.
Bambi Bembenek died of liver failure at a hospice facility in Portland, Oregon, on November 20, 2010. She was 52 years old.
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