Laurie Bembenek, 52, the former Playboy Club bunny and police officer who was convicted in 1982 of killing her busband’s ex-wife and sentenced to a life behind bars, died on Saturday of liver failure.
Bembenek, an admitted alcoholic, was admitted to hospital a few days ago, suffering from a host of problems including Hepatitis C and liver and kidney failure, her estranged sister Colette Bembenek said.
“It went real fast. I’m glad she didn’t linger. I knew it was inevitable that she would probably be expiring early in life.”
Bembenek, who was described by her sister in 2003 as having a “bizarre character” and as someone who “needs help”, worked as a model during her final year in highschool and also had a brief stint as a Playboy Club waitress. In 1994 she said: “It’s always a negative — if not sexual — image thy paint. I was a waitress at the Playboy Club for three weeks, But I’ll always be known as the Playboy bunny.”
A more apt title infact would be Playboy Club waitress turned cop turned notorious convict-on-the-loose. Bembenek exchanged her skimpy bunny outfit for a cop’s uniform, and when she was later convicted of fatally shooting her detective husband’s ex-wife — apparently becuase she was not happy about the alimony he had to pay — she found herself wearing drab prison attire, day in day out.
Her prison escape in 1990 popularized the slogan “Run Bambi Run” and the saga also inspired a book and a TV movie called Woman on Trial: The Lawrencia Bembenek Story starring Tatum O’Neal.
“Bambi” maintained her innocence for more than two decades but she never managed to have her conviction overturned. Her longtime attorney Mary Woehrer said the effort to clear her name will continue.
Read here about Playmate Jennifer Lyn Jackson, who died of a drug overdose.
Images: ibo2.com and cognidissidence.blogspot.com