Monday, November 22, 2010

Woman Who Inspired Chants of 'Run Bambi Run' Dies at 52

Lawrencia Bembenek, the former Playboy Club waitress turned police officer turned famed escaped-convict-on-the-loose, has died. She was 52.

"Bambi" Bembenek was a former Milwaukee police officer who had been fired and went on to sue the department, claiming that it engaged in sexual discrimination and other illegal activities.

Bambi became famous after she was charged with the 1981 murder of her cop-husband's ex-wife.   In 1982, Bembenek was convicted by a jury of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Schultz and sentenced to life in prison.  Her case inspired two television movies Woman on the Run: The Lawrencia Bembenek Story," starring Tatum O'Neal on NBC; and "Calendar Girl, Cop Killer? The Bambi Bembenek Story," starring Lindsay Frost.

On December 9, 1992, Bembenek entered into a plea agreement wherein she agreed to plead no contest to the charge of second-degree murder of Christine Schultz in exchange for the vacating of her conviction of the first-degree murder of Schultz, a sentence recommendation by the State of twenty years, credit for all time served, and a waiver of any and all of her appeal rights or rights to collaterally attack any of the underlying evidence, including her right to assert any claim of innocence to the murder

In 2002, Bembenek went on "The Dr. Phil Show" to clear her name, but she wound up with an amputated leg and a lawsuit against Dr. Phil, Paramount, and 52 staffers on his syndicated show.

The suit accused Dr. Phil and his co-defendants of imprisoning her in a Marina Del Rey apartment, where she shattered her leg in the act of escaping out a window with bed sheets she had tied together. Her leg eventually had to be amputated below the knee.

On November 20, 2010, the 52-year-old died Saturday of liver failure at a hospice care center in Portland, Ore., said her longtime attorney, Mary Woehrer.

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