November 22, 2010

Laurie "Bambi" Bembenek — Wisconsin folk heroine — dead at age 52.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a long obituary:
Laurie Bembenek was the former Milwaukee police officer charged with killing her then-husband's ex-wife, Christine Schultz. She was convicted in 1982 and sentenced to life in prison, but that was far, far from the end of the story.

In 1990, with the help of fiancé Dominic Gugliatto, the brother of another inmate, she escaped from Taycheedah Correctional Institution. They were captured three months later in Thunder Bay, Ontario. More legal proceedings resulted in her pleading guilty to second-degree murder and being released on parole for time served.

After Bembenek's 1990 escape, supporters held a rally, many of them wearing Bembenek masks so that "she'll be able to walk around more freely." T-shirts declared, "Run, Bambi, Run." One club held a Lawrencia Bembenek look-alike contest.

Events were enough to inspire books and two television movies and to make international news.....

15 comments:

AllenS said...

Another Wisconsin folk hero kinda sorta died yesterday. Bret Favre.

Hebat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shoutingthomas said...

Bembenek, 52, died early Saturday evening in Portland, Ore., where she was in hospice care, her sister, Colette Bembenek of South Milwaukee, said Sunday.

Yes, she moved to Portland.

That was to be expected. You can figure that one out on your own.

By the way, if you're a 60s relic and a musician, Portland is the place to be. Golden oldies bands can work as much as they want.

Skyler said...

Never heard of her. But for anyone stupid enough to escape from prison while awaiting appeal, I say that pretty much confirms her guilt and so good riddance.

c3 said...

I know nothing of her but I note these items from the story:
1) Died of cirrhosis from Hepatitis C. Did she have a past IV drug abuse problem?
2) A chaotic life history but good looking. Is that partly why people were intrigued by her? (i.e. if you have a chaotic life history and aren't good looking is it just another obituary buried in the back pages?)
3) A life pattern consistent with a sociopath. Do we have a harder time seeing women as sociopathic?

ndspinelli said...

I thought Bambi died years ago. No...not the cute deer, the former Brewer's skipper, George Bamberger. This one should have been nicknamed, "Bimbo".

Although, it is ironic that this "Bambi" died during deer hunting season.

The Crack Emcee said...

Killed her "husband's" ex-wife.

Divorce.

You gotta love it.

ironrailsironweights said...

Guaranteed she was shaved.

Peter

Big Mike said...

When "Run, Bambi, Run" is taken together with the relatively light sentences received by the Sterling Hall bombers, I'm forced to conclude that you Wisconsin residents take a light-hearted attitude towards murder.

Joe said...

Did a lot of reading on this case. It was totally bungled by the prosecutors. No forensic evidence actually points to Bembenek and witnesses maintained the murder was male. Evidence was lost and ignored. She may still be guilty, but this is one of those cases where the state messed up enough that I'd be inclined to find not-guilty based on what I've read.

(She does strike me as one of those people that make you think she's guilty of something.)

David said...

Dead of liver failure at 52.

Too many demons.

MadisonMan said...

She does strike me as one of those people that make you think she's guilty of something.

Yes.

But the prosecutors' case -- from what little I've read -- always struck me as trying to take what facts implicated Bembenek and using them, and ignoring everything else. You might get a conviction that way, but you don't get the truth.

Robert Burnham said...

My opinion from the time of the conviction still holds, I think: unfair trial, but a fair verdict.

Superdad said...

That she was innocent is evident from the fact that after they re-captured her the state agreed to a lesser charge and let her off with time served. That is not the normal treatment for a murderer who escapes and is recaptured. Normally, they would have added to her sentence for the escape, not reduced it and let her go free. Reality is that there was no hard evidence linking her to the killing. On top of that, the dang eyewitness said it was a man and never recanted that testimony.

She did have a drug problem and she had to have her leg amputated at one point.

Dawn said...

Lauri was a kind and loving person. She always had a smile for eveyone she met. I will miss you very much Lauri, may you REST IN PEACE.

Your friends from Vanvouver Washington