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Det. Stephanie Lazarus

Sherri Rasmussen

Det. Stephanie Lazarus was told a suspect in the basement jail had information on one of her cases. The 25-year police veteran went quickly downstairs.

As Lazarus removed her firearm to pass through security, she unknowingly walked into a trap. There was no suspect -- only questions about a terrible secret police believe she has been harboring for more than two decades.

Now disarmed, Lazarus, 49, was confronted by homicide detectives and arrested on suspicion of the 1986 slaying of a woman who had married Lazarus' ex-boyfriend. The dramatic break in the decades-old case sent shock waves through the tight-knit LAPD community, marking one of the few times in the department's history that one of its own officers has been accused of murder.
Calling it an apparent "crime of passion," Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said Lazarus allegedly beat and fatally shot Sherri Rae Rasmussen, a 29-year-old hospital nursing director, two years after joining the department.

Three months after they were married, Rasmussen's husband returned to their Van Nuys condominium on the evening of Feb. 24, 1986, to discover his wife's badly beaten body on the floor in the living room. She had been shot several times, Beck said.

Days after the slaying, two men robbed another woman in the area at gunpoint. Homicide detectives suspected that the pair had also killed Rasmussen when she came upon them burglarizing her home, according to news reports from the time. Rasmussen's parents, newspapers reported, offered a $10,000 reward for the men's capture
Detectives scoured the original case file for mention of any women who could have been overlooked during the investigation. Beck said they found a reference to Lazarus, who was known at the time to have had a romantic relationship with the victim's husband, John Ruetten. Ruetten allegedly broke off the relationship and soon after became involved with Rasmussen, said sources familiar with the investigation who were not authorized to speak publicly.

With suspicion falling on an LAPD cop, the case took on sensitive and explosive tones inside the department. To minimize the chances that word of the reopened investigation would leak, only a small circle of detectives and high-ranking officials were made aware of it. Last week, an undercover officer surreptitiously trailed Lazarus as she did errands, waiting until she discarded a plastic utensil or other object with her saliva on it, police sources said.

The DNA in her saliva was compared with the DNA evidence collected from the murder scene. The genetic code in the samples matched conclusively, police said.
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-detective-arrested6-2009jun06,0,2400854.story
 

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Nell

Unending melancholy
Bold Member!
Wow. WTF is up with that? I am so glad that her fellow cops turned her in. They totally could have ignored and covered this up.
 

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Runecire

Back again to the Den of Iniquity
Agree 100%. Glad to see they are out for justice, not solidarity. Crime is Crime, no matter who commits it. Good for the LAPD.
 

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Abroad

Veteran Member
The crime came back to haunt her. After all these years she must have thought she got away with it, too.




Congratulations to the LAPD for getting their (wo)man.
 

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dmax

Trusted Member
Couldn't help but notice, I am ashamed to say, Det. Stephanie's Adam's apple is fatter than my dick.
 

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Unamused Cat

Veteran Member
I'm glad this case was finally solved. It's too bad the killer cop got away with the murder for so long. I hope she spends the rest of her life in prison.
 

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Sister Iroz

Nun the worse for where
Bold Member!
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The parents of a woman slain 23 years ago are demanding to know why it took so long for Los Angeles police to focus on one of their own as a suspect, despite several angry confrontations between their daughter and the accused veteran investigator.

Detective Stephanie Lazarus, 49, is accused of killing Sherri Rasmussen, her ex-boyfriend's wife, in 1986, when Lazarus had been on the police force for two years.

But when Rasmussen's father told authorities after the slaying to investigate an LAPD officer — the former girlfriend of his daughter's husband — he was allegedly told he was "watching too much TV."

Police officials have said Lazarus was not a suspect in 1986 because detectives believed that two robbers who had attacked another woman in the same neighborhood were to blame. Yet the only item taken from inside the Rasmussen's home was the couple's marriage license.

The case file did mention Lazarus because she had previously dated the victim's husband, John Ruetten. Rasmussen married Ruetten in November 1985 and she was killed the following February.

Lazarus made her first court appearance Tuesday, calmly answering "Yes, your honor" when a judge asked if she agreed to have her arraignment continued to July 6. She was ordered held without bail.

Outside court, a lawyer for Rasmussen's father and mother said the parents had been rebuffed when telling detectives about confrontations between their son-in-law's ex-girlfriend and their daughter.

According to attorney John Taylor, Lazarus first confronted Rasmussen at a hospital where the victim worked and said, "If I can't have John, no one will."

In another incident, Lazarus got into the couple's condo and confronted Rasmussen, who told her to get out, Taylor said.

Rasmussen was 6 feet tall, athletic and capable of defusing the situation, so she did not call police but did tell her father she knew the woman was an ex-girlfriend of her husband, the attorney said.

At the news conference, Taylor said that days before the murder, Rasmussen "told her parents she had a problem she was dealing with and if she couldn't resolve it in two weeks she would come back."

The only items taken in the alleged robbery, Taylor said, was the couple's marriage license and the victim's car, which was found nearby with the keys in it.

Taylor said that when the father persisted in asking police what they had found out about the ex-girlfriend after the slaying, "He was told repeatedly that he'd been watching too much TV."

Lazarus, a specialist in investigating art thefts, was arrested last week after colleagues in the homicide unit across a hallway at police headquarters examined the long cold case and made what they say was a DNA match.

Los Angeles County prosecutors charged her with willful, premeditated murder with the special circumstance of murder in commission of a burglary.

That makes the death penalty a possibility if she is convicted, but prosecutors have not decided whether they would seek capital punishment.

Taylor said the fatal attack involved a struggle that moved around the condominium. Rasmussen suffered a bite on the arm and was shot three times, including in the heart and spine, he said.

Lazarus was identified as a suspect through a DNA match of saliva taken from the bite marks, Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said Monday.

Beck said investigators would interview several sources including Ruetten in San Diego, detectives who first investigated the case and now live in Idaho, and Lazarus' family in Arizona.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ggtcZAETTcmlChHwLXo98lMW5ZqgD98NFHTG3
 

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Unamused Cat

Veteran Member

Stephanie Lazarus

She has that psycho look. The victim's family should sue her for every last dollar in her police pension.
 

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proudmom

Active Member
I side with the family on why it took so long to solve this one even when there should have been plenty of suspicion....
on the other hand at least it did not sit forever as a cold case....

Kudos to the lapd for not covering up a crime commited by one of their own
 

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Whisper

#byefelicia
K sorry I ran the names under cold cases ,nothing came up so I dont know whats going on with the search thingy anyways I deleted Sorry Morningstar,
 

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Whisper

#byefelicia
A bite, bullet and broken heart: Former LA cop stands trial for murder
Los Angeles (CNN) -- The prosecutor sounded like the narrator of a hard-boiled police drama as he carefully laid out pieces of the puzzle that led detectives to arrest one of their own in a 23-year-old cold case.

"A bite, a bullet, a gun barrel and a broken heart, that's the evidence that will prove to you that defendant Stephanie Lazarus murdered Sherri Rasmussen," Deputy District Attorney Shannon Presby told jurors as an unusual criminal trial began this week in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The trial promises to tell the story of a decorated female officer who rose through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department while allegedly hiding a dark secret: She was getting away with murder.

Lazarus, now 51 and retired from the force, is accused of killing her college crush's new bride in 1986, staging the crime scene to make it look like a burglary. Yes, she was a police officer, but she did not kill in the line of duty, or to protect the public, Presby alleged.

"This killing was personal."
Rasmussen was a tall, athletic 29-year-old hospital nursing supervisor with a pretty smile. She met a brutal end, beaten, bitten and shot to death in her townhouse in the suburban San Fernando Valley on February 24, 1986. She'd also been tied up and hit over the head with a vase. To police, it looked like a burglary gone bad. Stereo components were stacked by the door and Rasmussen's new BMW, an engagement gift, was missing.

The case intrigues because it blends soap opera suds with "CSI"-style forensics -- including broken fingernails and a bite mark. It also promises to hold up a mirror to one of the nation's most storied law enforcement agencies.

"Metaphorically speaking, this case is about the new LAPD investigating the old LAPD," said Andrew Blankstein, who has covered the department for the Los Angeles Times since the 1990s. "This trial really traces the evolution of the LAPD and its approach to investigations, coupled with the revolutionary advances in technology."

He added, "There's the old adage that the LAPD would never go after one of its own, but this case flies in the face of that."

According to prosecutor Presby, the crime was all about a guy. Witnesses who knew them in college at UCLA will testify that Lazarus was smitten with John Ruetten, but he just wasn't that into her.

To underscore his portrayal of Lazarus as a woman obsessed, Presby displayed an old photograph found during a 2009 police search of the journals she'd stashed in a footlocker at home. Taken at their college dorm 30 years earlier, it shows Ruetten sleeping with his back to the camera. He was wearing only white cotton briefs.

Ruetten did care for Lazarus, Presby continued, but in his view they were just good friends -- with occasional "benefits."

Defense attorney Mark Overland told jurors there was much more to the relationship. The couple dated after college, went on trips and slept together "many, many times." Lazarus thought it was serious and also got to know and love Ruetten's mother and brother. She thought they had a future, the lawyer said.

When she learned Ruetten was marrying someone else, Lazarus decided to lay her cards on the table. She told him how she felt. They slept together one last time, and then he told her he was going ahead with his marriage to Rasmussen, Overland said.

"She was tearful," he added. "She wasn't hysterical."

A key part of the case involves a confrontation between Lazarus and Rasmussen at the hospital where Rasmussen worked, but Overland insisted his client was no stalker. By some accounts, Lazarus allegedly told her rival: "If I can't have him, nobody can." While Overland acknowledged there was a meeting between the two women, he described it as more of a heads-up.

The message from Lazarus, according to her attorney: "Hey, if he's dating you, you'd better tell him to stop bothering me. He keeps calling me. Tell him to knock it off."

At the time of the slaying, Lazarus was in her second year with the Los Angeles Police Department. The killing occurred on a Monday. Lazarus had taken the day off; Rasmussen had called in sick that morning. Authorities estimate she died before lunchtime.
[...]
Ruetten found the body when he came home from work after 6 that night. Wearing a red robe, pink T-shirt and black panties, Rasmussen was sprawled on her back on the living room floor. By all accounts, the grim find left Ruetten dazed and despondent.

Lazarus was a newbie patrol officer when Ruetten broke up with her for good. She was hurt by his rejection, sure, but she moved on and prospered, Overland said. She made detective and met her husband, a fellow Los Angeles police detective, in 1993, and they have a daughter. She was headed for the department's internal affairs and its prestigious art theft detail.

According to prosecutors, the key to unlocking Lazarus' dark secret lay for years on the back shelf of an evidence freezer in the coroner's office. A sealed evidence envelope contained a vial. Inside that vial was a cotton swab. On that swab, prosecutors say, was DNA taken from saliva from the bite wound on Rasmussen's left forearm.

Testing in 2005 revealed the assailant was a woman. But still some detectives clung to the burglary theory and focused their inquiries on known female prowlers. From the beginning, the victim's family had pointed to an ex-girlfriend of Ruetten's who was a cop, and as the DNA testing advanced, undercover police followed Lazarus to a Costco store and retrieved a discarded soda from a trash can. Saliva traces from the straw matched the bite mark DNA, and she officially became a suspect.

Lazarus was confronted, and another sample was taken from her shortly before her arrest. Tests revealed the DNA found in the bite mark on Rasmussen's left forearm belonged to Lazarus.

How sure were they? Presby said the chances of the killer being anyone else is "one in 1.7 sextillion."

That's a 17 followed by 20 zeroes.

Overland says the crime scene evidence from 1986 was mishandled and tainted years ago and can't be trusted. The envelope has been torn. Photos show the top of the vial poking through. And while the top of the envelope may have been sealed with red crime lab tape, the bottom was wide open. Overland quoted the crime lab's supervisor, who observed: "We've got a problem."

Hairs, fibers and fingerprints found at the crime scene can't be tied to Lazarus at all and haven't been matched to anyone else, Overland told the jury.

The jurors listened intently Monday but didn't take many notes. As prosecutors set the scene with their first witnesses, the images projected on a large screen were jarring: A beaming bride in white appeared one minute, followed by an image of a bloodied corpse in a red robe, arms and legs stiffened with rigor mortis. Both photos were of Rasmussen, and they were taken less than four months apart.

Her father, Nels Rasmussen, occasionally choked back sobs, and one of the victim's sisters teared up at the sight of the bloodied face with one eye blackened and swollen shut.

Sherri Rasmussen "wore the white dress that the defendant felt was hers," Presby said. "Four months after that marriage, Sherri Rasmussen was dead, her beauty disfigured, obliterated, blotted from existence."

Lazarus, dressed in black for court, appeared pale and waxy as she jotted notes and whispered with her attorneys. During breaks, she waved at her husband, mother and brother, who were seated behind her.

Presby reminded jurors what life was like in 1986. Ronald Reagan was president. Bill Cosby had the top-rated television show. People played Pong and Asteroids and hardly anybody had a home computer.

And few, except for scientists, had heard of DNA. The genetic testing that is now the "gold standard of evidence," was yet to come, Presby reminded the jury.

"A tiny Stephanie Lazarus was hiding in the bite on Sherri Rasmussen's arm," he said.

[..]
http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/07/justice/lazarus-trial-cold-case/index.html?hpt=ju_c1

Sherri Rasmussen, 29, was found brutally beaten and shot to death in her Southern California townhouse in February 1986.​
 

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Dakota

FORUM BITCH / Beloved Cunt
Bold Member!
Prosecution rests

Prosecutors in the murder trial of retired Los Angeles Police Department Det. Stephanie Lazarus rested their case Friday after three weeks of testimony, including that of a former FBI criminal profiler who said the killer staged part of the crime scene in an effort to throw off investigators.
[...]

After grinding through weeks of detailed testimony that focused largely on DNA and other forensic evidence, prosecutors called their final witnesses on what happened to be the 26th anniversary of the killing.

One of the last to take the witness stand was Mark Safarik, who spent years profiling criminals for the FBI. Prosecutors hired Safarik, who now operates a consulting firm, to analyze evidence from the crime scene.
[...]

With Rasmussen's BMW missing and electronic equipment stacked on the floor of her home, the lead detective in the case theorized at the time that she had been killed when she came upon a burglar.

Safarik refuted that idea, saying he believed the killer had attempted to make the crime scene look like an interrupted burglary in order to confuse investigators.

Safarik said Rasmussen's town house, with its alarm company sign on the door and position in clear view of other homes, was not a likely target for a burglar.

Also, he said, the intruder or intruders had not ransacked any part of the town house in search of valuables and had moved only two pieces of stereo equipment from a console that included several other pieces.

The decision to take the BMW, but not to fill it first with things from the house or to strip it down afterward of its valuable parts, also pointed to a faked burglary, Safarik said.

"What I saw was an attempt to create an illusion," he said.

Lazarus' attorney, Mark Overland, sparred strenuously with Safarik, trying to get him to admit his theory was based on unprovable assumptions of what had occurred.

Overland has indicated that when he begins his defense of Lazarus on Monday, he will try in part to convince jurors that the original burglary theory is a credible alternative to the story prosecutors want the jury to believe.

The prosecution's case hinges heavily on saliva extracted from a bite mark on Sherri Rasmussen's arm. Experts have testified that DNA tests on the saliva prove it came from Lazarus.
[...]
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lapd-detective-trial-20120224,0,4539264.story
 

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Dakota

FORUM BITCH / Beloved Cunt
Bold Member!
After deliberating less than eight hours, a jury on Thursday found former LAPD detective Stephanie Lazarus guilty of first degree murder for killing her ex-boyfriend's wife in 1986.

Lazarus faces 27 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the murder plus a gun enhancement imposed by the L.A. Superior Court jury, with sentencing scheduled for May 4.
[...]

"This 26-year nightmare has concluded with a positive identification of the person who killed (Nels and Loretta Rasmussen's) daughter and the intent with which she did it," said attorney John Taylor, who represents the victim's family.

Lazarus sat expressionless in the courtroom and did not react as the verdict was read. Her family quickly exited the courtroom without speaking.

Her defense attorney, Mark Overland, said he felt the quick decision by the jury indicated they did not fully examine all the evidence.

"We never had a chance," Overland said.

He promised to appeal, saying he had not been allowed to present an alternative theory of the crime - that robbers had committed the murder. He described his client as "definitely disappointed."

During trial he had also raised questions about the DNA evidence, saying it was poorly packaged and stored for decades.

Those questions, however, did not convince the eight-woman, four-man jury.
[...]

Police Chief Charlie Beck called the case "a tragedy on every level."

"Not only did the family of Sherri Rasmussen lose a wife and a daughter, a life that can never be returned, but also the LAPD family felt a sense of betrayal to have an officer commit such a terrible crime," Beck said in a written statement.
[...]

The detectives who arrested her said after the verdict they never had doubts about her guilt.

"We were very confident in everything we gathered up to that point (of the arrest)," said Detective Dan Jaramillo.

The Rasmussen family's attorney was asked if they felt the LAPD botched the case in 1986. He deflected the question, instead just saying: "The family thinks that the LAPD did a fantastic job in 2009 in resurrecting and bringing light to this case."

Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said he hoped Lazarus' crimes would not reflect poorly on the reputation of the other officers in the department.

"We appreciate the jury's service and hope that Sherri Rasmussen's family can find closure in knowing that Stephanie Lazarus will face justice for Ms. Rasmussen's murder," Izen said.

"Lazarus' crimes are deeply disturbing, but it is important to remind the public that the actions of one individual should not tarnish its trust and respect for the more than 9,900 dedicated police officers who serve and protect the community every day."
http://www.dailynews.com/ci_20130872/jury-reaches-verdict-murder-trial-former-lapd-detective?source=most_viewed
 

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TheMorningStar

is a catcus
Stephanie Lazarus, 52, was found guilty in March of killing Sherri Rasmussen, who was bludgeoned and shot to death in the condo she shared with her husband of three months, John Ruetten.
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry gave Lazarus a term of 25 years to life for first-degree murder and an additional two years for personal use of a firearm. He said Lazarus would be credited with 1,000 days for good behavior and time already served.

Her defense team said they will appeal the conviction.
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57432733-504083/stephanie-lazarus-former-lapd-detective-sentenced-to-27-years-to-life-in-prison-for-1986-murder/
 

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LadyCygnet

Fucking Awesome Baronet
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry gave Lazarus a term of 25 years to life for first-degree murder and an additional two years for personal use of a firearm. He said Lazarus would be credited with 1,000 days for good behavior and time already served.
Well, that's something. Preferably she'll get the "to life" bit. She got away with murder for 23 years--that's either incredibly lucky for her or incredibly cold-blooded.

Oh, and she's got crazy eyes. If I called police and she showed up at my door, I'd be terrified.
 

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