IF you live in Milwaukee, and your spouse's ex gets murdered,
you better have an ironclad alibi.

"Why?" you ask. It's easy, just look at what happened to Laurencia Bembenek. First, she's kicked off the Milwaukee Police Department on trumped up charges. She then files suit with the US Justice Dept., and while that suit is in progress, SHE is framed by the MPD for the murder of her husband's ex-wife. A murder that HE more than likely hired a contract killer to carry out.

All you have to do is look at the facts of the case. TWO witnesses who both saw a MAN in a green jogging suit were never called by prosecutors or Police to describe the man in more detail. Ms. Bembenek's hair, the only PHYSICAL evidence that linked her to the murder scene MIRACULOUSLY appears on a bandana found at the scene weeks after the forensic pathologist had inspected it and stated that only the VICTIMS hair was in the bandana. Weeks after being eliminated as the murder weapon, Ms. Bembenek's husband's off duty weapon (a snub-nosed .38 special)SUDDENLY became the murder weapon. And while the police stated that a .38 caliber weapon was the murder weapon, three top forensics experts in North America, stated that the murder weapon had to be larger, .44 or .45 caliber in size.

So if you'll forgive me, I don't think I'll be moving to Milwaukee anytime soon. Considering what happened to Ms. Bembenek, and the screw up with Jeffrey Dahmer, I wouldn't want to depend on Milwaukee PD to protect my life and property.


Several people have emailed me and asked what happened to Laurie "Bambi" Bembenek. Below is info I found on the Crime Library's web site that covers pretty much the whole thing. What I have here covers the last three chapters of what was written on the Crime Library.
Run Bambi, Run

Fed up with the system and fearing she might spend most of the rest of her life behind bars, Bembenek escaped from prison on July 15, 1990. She had served almost ten years already, and then had met and become engaged to Nick Gugliatto, the brother of another prisoner. With his help, she 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. They thought she’d gotten a bad rap. People protested openly in the streets on her behalf and even came up with a song, “Run. Bambi, Run.” They made masks of her face and put bumper stickers on their cars. They wanted her to get away.

Bembenek and Gugliatto took new names from tombstones to obtain birth certificates and social security numbers. They remained free for three months, working at menial jobs, before a tourist who had seen Bembenek’s picture on “American’s Most Wanted” turned her in. The Canadian police picked her up just minutes before she was set to flee again.

She pleaded for refugee status, claiming that she was being persecuted by a conspiracy between the police department and the judicial system in Wisconsin. The Canadian government looked into her case and pointed out the many legal errors in her trial.

Finally, Bembenek was sent back to the states.

A judicial inquiry was undertaken that excluded the district attorney (due to charges of cover-up and conspiracy). These officials decided that no crimes had been committed leading up to the murder charge, but they detailed seven major police blunders during the investigation.

Bembenek’s lawyer (a new one, since her first lawyer had turned on her) cut a deal that she would agree to “no contest” to a second degree murder charge in return for a reduced sentence, limited to time already served plus parole.

Although her innocence had not been established, she was finally free.

Complications

During the years that Bembenek was in prison, numerous people had instigated investigations on her behalf, and a number of factors came out that put into doubt much of what had been said at her trial:

The off duty revolver owned by Schultz was examined the night of the murder and determined that it had not been shot recently. A team of officers also examined it the morning after the murder and they came to the same conclusion (although they did not admit to this meeting for many years). Yet the ballistics report indicated that this gun, not fired, was the murder weapon. Schultz had it in his possession for several weeks following the murder and before it was tested in the crime lab, and a neighbor of the victim’s claimed someone had stolen his .38 the night of the murder. Could Schultz have switched guns? No serial number was recorded for his off duty weapon on the night of the murder. It could have been switched and no one would know.

Attorney Mary Woehrer contacted Chesley Erwin, medical examiner at the time of the murder, and he agreed that the bullet taken from the victim might have been switched. Woehrer discovered that when Elaine Samuels, associate medical examiner, removed the bullet, she had written three initials, CJS, on it. The bullet presented at the trial had six initials, three of which were in different handwriting from the original three.

Two sets of unidentified fingerprints were found at the murder site, but no match was made.

Bembenek dreaded the idea of taking care of Fred’s children, so why would she get rid of Christine and make certain that happened by having them go straight into Fred’s custody?

Judy Zess was not questioned about her whereabouts on the night of the murder, although she had canceled a date to go out with Bembenek.

On October 27, 1981, a convicted felon named Frederick Horenberger sent Bembenek’s lawyer a six-page note detailing how Judy Zess had committed perjury in her testimony against Bembenek. He had overheard a conversation from her to her boyfriend in jail about the murder and said that she then told him that she was working out a deal with the police, with them exchanging favors for her testimony. She was having sex with one of the officers assigned to the case, and he was setting up the deals. She later told Bembenek that her statements had been twisted and taken out of context, but when her boyfriend was paroled, it was clear the deal had worked for her.

The investigator hired by Bembenek’s lawyer reported that he had spoken to a man who claimed that Schultz had hired a hit man out of Chicago to kill the victim, and that there were two men in the home that night. They had awakened the boys with the specific intent of making them bear witness to the fact that it was not their father who was killing their mother.

The blood found on the walls in the victim’s house was never examined to determine its origin.

The blood found under victim’s fingernails was never examined, and no one checked to see if Bembenek had been scratched.

Bembenek’s black police shoes were not confiscated or examined.

Marilyn Gehrt, the wig shop owner who came forward at the last minute, did not have a sales slip for the wig that Bembenek supposedly had purchased, and could not remember the date, but was sure that Bembenek produced ID to write a check. However, Bembenek did not actually have a checking account.

Assistant medical examiner Elaine Samuels, who had testified about hair samples that she had removed from the victim’s body, said she never found a blond hair or red hair consistent either with the suspect or with a wig, and felt that evidence may have been tampered with. In fact, the gag on which the hair was allegedly found had been removed from the crime lab inventory to show to Judy Zess.

The state did not call Tom Gaertner to the stand to support the statements made by Judy Zess, a serious oversight not caught by the defense.

Hair analyst Diane Hansen was shown to have little experience or training in this field. She’d had less than six weeks of training in various law seminars, so her expertise on crucial evidence interpretation was questionable..

Aftermath

James Benning made a film in 1989 of the Bembenek case, “Used Innocence,” distributed by First Run features.

Ira Robbins, a private detective, worked tirelessly on the case for over seven years. He assisted the Canadian officials to evaluate whether Bembenek had gotten a fair trial when she filed for refugee status.

Bembenek was paroled Dec. 9, 1992 and credited with time already served. Then she graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, the first female “lifer” admitted to an extension program. She took a degree in the Humanities.

A movie about her life, “Woman on the Run,” was developed into a two-part miniseries starring Tatum O’Neal, from Bembenek’s book, Woman on Trial. She rode around in a limo, bought a Jaguar, went on a book tour, gave speeches, showed her paintings, and appeared on Oprah.

Eventually she tired of all the attention and legally changed her name to Laurie. Then she got involved with a drug-dealer who gave her some marijuana and cocaine, which violated the terms of her parole. She spent two weeks in jail and then had to live with an electronic monitor.

When she contracted Hepatitis C, she moved to Washington State, nearly penniless and wishing that the public, who had called her “Bambi” would forget about her.



Created: June 1, 1997
Last updated: October 5, 2005

This Web page is 1997 Albert Lowe. All rights reserved.
The story blockquoted is to Crime Library. I have only copied that part which I thought people might be interested in. If you want the rest of the story, click on the link!