The Playboy Murders: How Long Was Laurie Bembenek on the Run?

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Written By Sedoso Feb

Disclaimer: This article contains mentions of murder and assault. Reader discretion is advised.

The Playboy Murders Season 2 will feature an episode titled Run Bambi Run that follows the arrest, trial, and conviction of Laurie Bembenek after she was convicted of the murder of Christine Schultz, her husband’s ex-wife. Run Bambi Run will be aired on ID on Monday, February 5, at 10 p.m. ET.

Laurie Bembenek, an inmate at the Taycheedah Correctional Institution, escaped out of the laundry room window and climbed her way over a seven-foot tall barbed wire fence on July 15, 1990. A fellow inmate’s brother and Bembenek’s then-fiance, Dominic Gugliatto, reportedly picked her up from outside the institution before the couple fled to Canada. She was on the run for three months before the police caught her in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

After her escape was announced to the public, over 200 people rallied to support Laurie Bembenek’s escape from prison. T-shirts that read “Run Bambi Run” became popular, and arguments around whether she was truly guilty of Christine Schultz’s murder. An episode of “America’s Most Wanted” featured her escape before she was caught, CBS News reported.

What was Bembenek convicted of?

Laurie Bembenek went on trial in March 1982 and was convicted of the first-degree murder of Christine Schultz, who was found dead in her bedroom on May 28, 1981. She had been married to Elfred Schultz, a Milwaukee police detective, until 1980, and they had two sons. After the divorce, Elfred married Laurie Bembenek, a former Playboy bunny. Laurie also served in the Milwaukee police department in 1980. After her marriage to Elfred, Laurie allegedly complained about the $700 alimony that Elfred had to give Christine every month.

On the morning of May 28, 1981, Elfred and Christine’s 11-year-old son, Sean, witnessed an intrusion where a masked person rushed into his mother’s room before a gunshot was heard. Sean then found Christine dead in her bedroom and informed Stuart Honeck, Christine’s boyfriend. Honeck reported the murder, and Laurie Bembenek was arrested a few months later, Fox News reported.

The gun that was used to shoot Christine was reportedly the same off-duty one that Elfred owned. Moreover, Christine was bound and gagged when she was tried and convicted of the murder. She was sentenced to life in prison in 1982 before she escaped prison in 1990, eight years into her sentence.

What happened to Laurie Bembenek?

After the Royal Canadian Mounted Police caught her on October 17, 1990, Laurie Bembenek briefly avoided extradition. In 1992, however, she willingly returned to Wisconsin, where the prosecution agreed to set aside her conviction after she pleaded no contest to the charges. She was asked to serve ten years of probation. Her parole was completed in 2002 when she moved to live with her parents.

Ever since her arrest in the months after Christine’s death, Laurie Bembenek had maintained that she was innocent and had been home at the time when the murder had been committed. Her multiple pleas to reconsider her conviction and sentencing had been rejected by the court. In 2002, after she completed probation, Bembenek appealed to the court to reexamine the genetic evidence in the case.

After reexamination, experts reportedly found that the DNA found at the crime scene was that of a male and that the possibility of sexual violence at the scene also cannot be dismissed, according to Oxygen. It also revealed that the gun that was previously thought to be the murder weapon might not have been used at the crime scene. However, the appeal was not further, and Laurie Bembenek was never subject to another trial that led to acquittal.

Laurie Bembenek died of liver failure on November 20, 2010, at a hospice care center in Portland. She was 52 at the time of death.

The Playboy Murders episode, Run Bambi Run, will be aired on ID on Monday, February 5, at 10 p.m. ET.


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