Laurie “Bambi” Bembenek, former Playboy Club bunny and Milwaukee police officer, has died at the age of 52. Convicted of murder in the death of her husband’s ex-wife, Christine Schultz, she escaped from prison in 1990. Her escape gave birth to the popular phrase, “Run, Bambi, Run,” and also inspired a made-for-TV movie.
According to NPR.org, Laurie Bembenek died Saturday of liver failure at a hospice facility. She had spent the past 20 years trying to prove her innocence.
Do you remember the Laurie “Bambi” Bembenek case? It was first made into a novel and then a TV movie in 1993, called “Woman On Trial: The Lawrencia Bembenek Story.” Based on both the book and the movie, it certainly did appear that Laurie “Bambi” Bembenek was innocent of the crime for which she was incarcerated.
After Bembenek’s jail break, more than 200 supporters in Milwaukee donned homemade t-shirts branded with the phrase, “Run, Bambi, Run!” because they strongly believed that Laurie “Bambi” Bembenek had been falsely accused and imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit.
After she and her fiance were captured in Ontario about three months after her escape, she returned to Wisconsin, where a judge agreed to delve further into her case. When the judge determined that “significant mistakes” had been made in the investigation and the trial, a plea deal was struck. Laurie “Bambi” Bembenek pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to ten years of probation. Clearing her name was not an option at that time. Agreeing to the plea deal assured she wouldn’t have to go back to jail.
Ever since finishing her sentence of probation, Bembenek had worked diligently in an attempt to fully clear her name of any wrongdoing in Christine Schultz’s death. She had recently been petitioning outgoing Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle in hopes of a pardon. Her family plans to continue seeking her pardon, in order to fully exonerate her even now that she has died. They feel it is the very least they can do to honor her memory.
How sad that this woman had fought so vigilantly to clear her name, but died before she could realize her dream. It is wonderful that her family will continue to fight for her name and reputation to be cleared.
Do you think Laurie “Bambi” Bembenek was guilty or innocent in the murder of Christine Shultz?