Dentist Larry Rudolph denies killing wife on African safari
A multimillionaire Pennsylvania dentist accused of murdering his wife on an African safari trip testified
A multimillionaire Pennsylvania dentist accused of murdering his wife on an African safari trip testified at his trial on Wednesday that a shotgun they brought with them was accidentally discharged while his spouse was packing in a rush.
“I did not kill my wife. I could not murder my wife. I would not murder my wife,” Lawrence “Larry” Rudolph told jurors from the witness stand at a federal courthouse in Denver.
Prosecutors have argued that Rudolph, 67, killed his wife of 34 years, Bianca Finizio Rudolph, to collect nearly $5 million in life insurance payments and start a new life with his mistress of 20 years.
In opening statements, the prosecution said that Rudolph was overheard blurting out “I killed my f—ing wife for you!” during an argument with the other woman, Lori Milliron, in 2020.
Rudolph, with his voice cracking at times during his testimony, which lasted over two hours, told the court about his and Bianca’s open marriage and her death in October 2016 in Zambia.
The dentist maintained that he was in the bathroom in their cabin when he heard the shot and came out to find his wife bleeding on the floor from a gunshot wound to the chest.
He said his wife had been packing quickly because she was in a rush to get home.
Rudolph is charged with murder and mail fraud in what prosecutors describe as a premeditated crime.
He faces a maximum term of life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of murder in the trial, which is being held in federal court because the insurance companies that paid him nearly $5 million for his wife’s death were based in Colorado.
Rudolph’s girlfriend, Milliron, is also on trial, accused of lying to a grand jury and being an accessory after the fact.
In his testimony, Rudolph denied that he confessed to his wife’s killing over dinner with Milliron at a Phoenix steakhouse in 2020.
He said he and Milliron were having an argument about their finances and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on his successful practice, Three Rivers Dental in Pittsburgh, but his top concern at the time was an FBI investigation into his wife’s death.
Rudolph said what he actually told his girlfriend on that occasion was, “Now they’re saying I killed my f—ing wife for you.”
The FBI opened the probe into Bianca’s death after being tipped off by a “friend” from South Africa, who said they suspected “foul play” because of Rudolph’s alleged history of marital infidelity, and his decision to have his wife’s body cremated, despite her being a devout Catholic.
He also did not tell his two children and other family members about Bianca’s death and subsequent funeral for a week, according to court filings.
Rudolph was arrested by the FBI in Mexico and extradited to the US in December 2021 to face federal charges.
On the witness stand on Wednesday, Rudolph sought to undermine the prosecution’s theory that he killed his wife to be with his mistress. After almost divorcing twice, Rudolph said, he and Bianca agreed to stay married in 2000 but pursue sexual relationships with other people.
He said the tension in their marriage eased after that, describing themselves as “reasonably happy” in their arrangement. Rudolph said neither Milliron nor his wife issued him any ultimatums about ending his relationship with the other.
Rudolph’s lawyer, David Markus, has argued that Rudolph had no financial motive for murder. Rudolph was worth more than $15 million when his wife died and the insurance payout went into a trust for their children.
Zambian authorities determined that the Oct. 11, 2016, shooting was accidental just two days after Bianca’s death, according to the defense. Investigators for the insurers that later paid $4.8 million reached the same conclusion.
Prosecutors countered that evidence shows Bianca’s wounds came from a shot fired from 2 to 3.5 feet away, suggesting that she did not accidentally shoot herself in the chest.
With Post wires