R.I.P. Laurie “Bambi” Bembenek
We’re sad to report that Laurie Bembenek, one of the great characters in recent Milwaukee history, profiled by Matt Wild on A.V. Club Milwaukee, died early Saturday morning in Portland, Ore., the Journal Sentinel reports. She was 52. Bembenek suffered from a variety of health problems, including hepatitis C and liver and kidney failure.
As Wild’s story recounts, Bembenek became a tabloid and TV movie star after the former Milwaukee police officer was convicted of murdering her then-husband’s ex-wife, and then escaped from prison. She was released on parole in 1992, but she continued to maintain her innocence, using her celebrity to try to clear her name. In 2002, the Dr. Phil show agreed to pay for DNA testing of the murder scene evidence. Then Bembenek’s story took another strange turn. From the Journal Sentinel:
The show’s producers kept Bembenek in an apartment—with a bodyguard and videotaping—apparently to shield her from media reports about her case, said Woehrer. Bembenek suffered a panic attack and flashback to prison confinement, and she tried to climb out of a window, Woehrer said.
She fell and badly injured her right foot, which later had to be amputated.
Recently, Bembenek applied for pardon from the governor’s office, but apparently the application was incomplete and no review is planned.