The headline-grabbing Playboy model portrayed by Tatum O'Neal in TV movie "Woman on Trial: The Lawrencia Bembenek Story" has died at the age of 52. Laurie Bembenek passed away on Saturday, November 20 due to complications from hepatitis C and kidney failure, according to the New York Post.
She quit modeling and became a police officer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but hit headlines again when she was convicted of murdering her then-husband, Milwaukee Police Department detective Elfred 'Fred' Schultz's ex-wife, Christine Schultz, in 1981. Bembenek escaped prison in 1990 with the help of an incarcerated boyfriend and was on the run for three months until she was captured in Canada. She was nicknamed 'Bambi' by the media during the chase.
Her sensational story was documented in the 1993 TV movie, with O'Neal in the starring role. Actress Lindsay Frost also played her in 1992 film "Calendar Girl, Cop, Killer? The Bambi Bembenek Story".
Bembenek always maintained she had been framed by the Milwaukee Police Department, allegedly so that her ex would no longer have to pay alimony. Following her prison release, she wrote a book about the ordeal, entitled "Woman on Trial".
In 2002, the story took a bizarre turn when TV psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw agreed to conduct a DNA test on evidence from the case. She was holed up in an apartment to prevent her from talking to other press, but Bembenek suffered a panic attack while in hiding and tried to escape by climbing out of a window. She fell and injured her foot so badly it had to be amputated.
Bembenek is survived by two sisters, Melanie and Colette.