Tortured Sister Dies Saying She Was Innocent
Read at First Draft that Bambi died . I am crying pretty hard. This is what I said to the First Draft poster in comments:
Oh thank you for remembering and writing about her. When the boys in McCann's office were crucifying her, she tried to explain to them that she was a member of Mil Women Against Rape and would never hurt a woman. They framed her to protect her husband, Alfred Schultz, a cop who many believe was the actual killer, and to punish her for bringing a sex discrimination suit against the Milwaukee Police Department which was/is a sexist sewer. She got post traumatic shock from their persecution and never recovered. When she escaped from prison, people wore TShirts saying, Run Bambi Run because no working class person thought she was guilty. She ran and ran even after they dragged her into their trap again. Finally public opinion and the evidence made them give her a deal but she had to admit some culpability. Like the women of old they broke her on the rack. But she kept coming back. Rest In Peace Bambi. We know what they did to you. The people knew.
Nov. 21, 2010
FROM THE JS ONLINE
RAW VIDEO: Charles Benson Talks With Bembenek Book Writer
Schultz Wishes Bembenek "Lived Longer"
Investigator Still Works to Prove Innocence
Laurie Bembenek Dies
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Laurie Bembenek, the former Milwaukee police officer known as "Bambi" who was convicted of killing her then-husband's ex-wife, escaped prison and whose legal saga played out in papers, books and tabloid TV shows, has died, relatives confirmed Sunday.
Bembenek, 52, died early Saturday (Nov 18?) evening in Portland, Ore., where she was in hospice care, her sister, Colette Bembenek of South Milwaukee, said Sunday.
Bembenek continued to maintain her innocence for the rest of her life, repeatedly trying to clear her name. In recent developments, Bembenek applied for a pardon from the governor's office. That application was not complete, and no immediate review was planned, a spokesman for Gov. Jim Doyle said last week.
Sunday night, her attorney, Mary L. Woehrer, said Bembenek's death would not stop the effort to win a pardon.
"It's her dying wish that she be pardoned. Based upon the evidence we gathered, it's clearly a case of wrongful conviction," Woehrer said, adding that she has been advised by the pardon board that death does not preclude the granting of a pardon.
Bembenek, who later changed her first name to Laurie from Lawrencia, had been admitted to a hospital and then was transferred to a hospice, her sister said. Her health problems included hepatitis C and liver and kidney failure, Colette Bembenek said.
"It went real fast. I'm glad she didn't linger," Colette Bembenek said. "I knew it was inevitable that she probably would be expiring early in life."
Colette Bembenek said she did not have a chance to speak with her sister before she died. She said she was told of her sister's death by Martin Carson, Laurie Bembenek's ex-husband. According to Martin, Laurie Bembenek was in and out of consciousness, said Colette Bembenek, adding that she last saw and spoke to her sister when their father died in 2003.
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.
'Run, Bambi, Run'
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.
Villain or victim? Nearly 30 years after the murder, the jury of public opinion remained out.
Bembenek grew up on a comfortable block on the south side, the daughter of Joe and Virginia Bembenek. She was the child that the family prayed for after a brother was born prematurely and died. Many years later, during a family feud over their father's estate, her sisters spoke about those early years and more.
"We were just raised differently," Colette Bembenek said in 2003. "When Laurie was born, we all danced around and accommodated the baby that lived and survived. She was raised with indulgence. It became an emotional problem.
"Laurie has this bizarre charisma. . . . But . . . she needs help," Colette then said.
Over the years, stories would detail every aspect of Bembenek's life. She played "very fine flute" at Bay View High School. She was a good student, though not scholastically driven. Depending on who was talking, she was intelligent but aloof, or quiet and shy, or cool and manipulative.
She grew to be a strikingly beautiful young woman, finding work as a model by her senior year in high school. She later worked at a Playboy Club, a detail included in countless stories.
"It's always a negative - if not a sexual - image they paint," she said in 1994. "I was a waitress at the Playboy Club for three weeks, but I'll always be known as the Playboy bunny."
In March 1980, she joined the Milwaukee police force. Months later, she was fired during her probationary period, subsequently filing a sex discrimination complaint against the department with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
After she lost her job with the department, she became involved with police officer Elfred Schultz. They married in Illinois on Jan. 29, 1981, less than three months after Schultz divorced his wife, Christine.
His ex-wife was found murdered May 28, 1981. She had been tied and gagged in her home, fatally shot with Elfred Schultz's service revolver, according to court testimony. One of their children originally described the suspect as a man.
It was just the beginning of conspiracy theories about the murder and the legal case. Early on, Bembenek said she was framed for the death, saying she was threatened and harassed after filing the discrimination complaint.
"I was on the police department," Bembenek said just weeks after the murder. "I sure wouldn't be stupid enough to use my husband's gun. I can't believe they would think that."
The largely circumstantial case was enough to convince a jury. Testimony included details of a hairlike fiber near the body. That fiber was considered a match with a reddish-brown wig found in plumbing in the apartment building where Bembenek and Elfred Schultz had been living.
Appeal efforts were not successful, including a request in 1990 before Bembenek escaped through a tiny laundry room window at Taycheedah. The Wisconsin Supreme Court soon rejected a request to consider her appeal, citing her fugitive status.
'Tired of being Laurie Bembenek'
After her capture, a secret John Doe investigation in 1992 found that there were mistakes in the police investigation but that there was no evidence of a conspiracy or wrongdoing.
Bembenek was released on parole late in 1992 after her original conviction was set aside. In a complicated deal, she agreed to plead no contest to second-degree murder.
Despite having a college degree, it was hard to find work or make a living.
"I'm tired of being Laurie Bembenek," she said in 1996. "Any face would do."
She talked about her situation as she sought permission to live in Washington state with her parents.
"Being recognized doesn't make me any money," she said then.
Months later, a one-way ticket in hand, she boarded a plane with her mother. Still on parole, she had received the necessary permission only hours earlier.
"This is it," a tearful Bembenek said. "I'm leaving a lot of friends behind, but I've got to go."
when I was a child I played with the boys and
(because I was only a girl)
they made me be the Indians
my name was Fox Woman
and they hunted me like dogs
my name was White Bird
and I flew to escape them
my name was Last Star
the last of my people
my name was Sunset
for they caught me and burned me
my name was Won't Talk
for I never betrayed us
time after time the boys shot me down
and I came back
wild and chanting
I know where they went
those boys with their guns
they're still hunting Indians
look you can see
their names are Spills Blood
and Kills-Without-Mercy *
* Before 1975, Mary Mackey published a volume of poetry "Split Ends" (Ariel), a novel, "Immersion" (Shameless Hussy Press), and the screenplay for the film "Silence" (directed by John Korty). In 1975, she was a writer-in-residence in Women's Studies at California State University, Sacramento and she wrote this poem.