I didn’t learn of Laurie Bembenek’s death until yesterday. I was saddened by her death, she was only 52, but ran into some health issues, which weren’t fully explained in the news. My intuition tells me her death was due to constant troubles and bad luck, dating back to 1981. Her end might be thought of as equally disturbing as her murder conviction back in 1982.
Yesterday I examined a number of older articles about her life and case to see what I could find out. Wisn.com (Milwaukee News) has been following the ‘Bambi’ case for years, so there’s a nice tip for you, if you’re interested. Also, I remembered that I had a VHS tape, recorded back in 1993, of Woman On Trial: The Lawrencia Bembenek Story starring Tatum O’Neal. As luck would have it, I had an archive box in storage now, with the Tatum O’Neal tape in question inside.
The ambience of distraction radiates from the baffling circumstances of Laurie’s case. The capacity to locate reliable resources, or the ability to formulate a cogent solution to the Christine Schultz homicide is assuredly illusionary. I hope I make myself perfectly clear. If I confuse, that will suffice as well. Sure would appreciate a new viewing of the 1993 mini-series, but it’s not going to happen.
And another perplexing observation, that just occurred to me, is the way Laurie’s countenance would change drastically. In 1981 she was a bleach-blond, but by the time she appeared on Oprah, her hair was auburn. I believe it was black at one time. Yet I found her as credible, believable when she spoke. That is, she seemed smart to me and I didn’t suspect her of lying.
Many Milwaukeeans make a full-time hobby of studying Bembenek’s case. I can see now why someone would go full time. Yesterday I went through the evidence maybe twenty times, and got more and more confused as I did so. Was it a vast conspiracy or just a botched investigation by the Milwaukee police? The 1991 John Doe investigation had claimed it was simply botched. But through the years many have asserted that the evidence, and this would include myself, was tampered with to nail Bembenek.
You will need to read Obsession by Erik Gunn, in Milwaukee Magazine from April of 2003. It’s on the internet and is about Ira Robins, a private investigator who has spent many years gathering evidence and opening files that point in the direction of Bembenek’s innocence. Lots of this has to do with the service revolver of Fred Schultz. Here’s where things begin to get confusing. There was an on-duty gun and an off-duty gun.
I interpreted this to mean that switch-a-roo of the guns took place at one time. Fred Schultz is the only one who could have switched the guns. I took away, from all the materials I read, that it was actually the on-duty gun that was the murder revolver. Ballistics would match with this gun. Also, blood would have to be on the barrel since the killer fired at a point-blank range into the back of Christine Schultz.
One could spend a lifetime constructing factual timelines regarding the ways in which Fred probably did switch the roles of these weapons. I channeled around twenty different scenarios myself last night while faking the counting of sheep. Bah, Bah, the sheep are restless. I concluded that the first gun they took down to headquarters was the on-duty revolver. Remember that Michael Durfee conveniently forgot to the note the serial number of the revolver. Fred then returned the gun to their apartment, then later put the off-duty revolver in its place.
This was the real murder weapon, and so the ballistics matched at this point. In my way of thinking, Schultz had switched the guns originally, so that the off-duty gun was the real weapon used on Christine. He had in mind all along fingering Laurie, since she was at home and with a key to Christine’s house. He must have had confederates as well in the Milwaukee Police Department; they helped him frame poor Bambi and cover-up the frame-up. Judy Zess plays a role also.
The blonde hairs must have been planted. The medical examiner never found any blonde hairs on the gag. And the situation with the wig, I don’t even want to go there. This is where Judy Zess comes into the picture. It’s suspected that Judy was the one who flushed the wig down the toilet. Zess also claimed that Laurie had boasted about wanting Christine killed. But what motive would Zess have for supporting Fred’s plan, unless she had been threatened herself?
Many questions still. Was Frederick Horenberger the real killer, hired by Fred Schultz? This seems likely, but we’ll never know for sure. One horrible event defined a woman’s entire life and now she’s dead. She couldn’t really live anymore with this hanging over her head. I missed something, I know I did. Unbelievable! Sean saw a man in disguise that early morning of May 28, 1981, not a tall, pretty blonde.
I’ve opened a new file on the Laurie Bembenek case myself as of yesterday. I have a brand new black, five-tiered file cabinet to deposit this puzzling mystery in. This will come in handy and help me with my sometimes questionable organizational skills. I’m getting better, though. Records are secured now under lock and key.
Hey, I couldn’t botch it up anymore than the authorities up in Milwaukee. I’m sorry that Bambi died before being cleared of these charges. I will have to go back to the beginning and trace how this entire debacle came about. Chronological and logical, if I can get it. Let’s see, who had a real motive to kill Christine Schultz? Yea that’s right, Fred Schultz did. Maybe I’ll begin right at this point.
OBSESSION by Erik Gunn