A Bite, a Bullet, and a Broken Heart: Former LA Cop stands trial for murder of nurse.

  1. ... Sherrie Rasmussen, a Critical Care nurse, and nurse manager at Glendale Adventist Hospital in LA, was brutally murdered by her husband's ex girlfriend. She was brutally murdered by her husband's ex girlfriend, who was a cop with LAPD. The police, at the time, thought that the crime scene pointed to a home invasion burglary gone bad.

    "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," ...
    Last edit by sirI on Feb 14, '12 : Reason: edited for copyright purposes
  2. Visit lindarn profile page

    About lindarn

    Sherri Rasmussen was my Nurse Manger at UCLA in the early 1980's. She was the epitome of what a nurse manger should be. She was brutally murdered by her husband's ex girlfriend, who was a cop with LAPD. The police, at the time, thought that the crime scene pointed to a home invasion burgarly gone bad. Her husband, her parents, told the police to look at Stephanie Lazarus as a suspect, because she had threatened, and stalked Sherrie, but they would not listen to them. A break in the cold case came in 2006, when the case was re-opended, the DNA was retested with better techniques than were available in 1986, and the results came back, that it was DNA from a female. The police of 2006 were now ready to look at Stephanie Lazarus as a suspect. As the article states, an undercover detective tailed her, and was able to obtain a DNA sample from her. She was confronted a few days later, and arrested. Myself, and Sherrie's other friends and former co-workers from Glendale Adventist, have followed this case since it broke in 2006. I hope that you will all pray for Sherrie, and her family, who have been put through hell, over this case. Sherry and John, had only been married three months when she was murdered. She was a newlywed, who thought that her and John would have many happy years together. He came home from work that night, and found his new wife dead, brutally murdered. RIP, Sherrie, it is almost over. Lindarn, Someplace in the PACNW

    Joined: Jun '02; Posts: 2,031; Likes: 5,934


  3. by   Not_A_Hat_Person
    The ex-girlfriend will get off. Cops always do.
  4. by   lindarn
    Here is more on this sad story:



    When John Ruetten & Sherri Rasmussen married, they could not have imagined that they would share only a few brief months before their lives would be shattered, and Sherri would be murdered.

    "Cheryl" "Sherri Rasmussen was one of the nicest people you could have met. She was smart, gentle and kind."

    Photo: Sherri Rae Rasmussen

    1973 - Sherri Rasmussen (age 16) enters college, UCLA. Later she will teach a period at UCLA.

    Sherri Rasmussen is 6 foot tall, athletic, extremely intelligent, and full of empathy for
    others, so it's no surprise that she decided to choose Nursing as her profession.
    1982 - Stephanie Ilene Lazarus graduates from UCLA with a degree in Sociology.

    1983 - Stephanie Lazarus joins the LAPD and is assigned duty as a Patrol Officer.

    Photo: Stephanie Ilene Lazarus (LAPD Patrol Officer)

    1984 - Sherri Rae Rasmussen becomes Director of Critical Care at the Nursing at Glendale
    Adventist Medical Center

    John Ruetten dates Stephanie Lazarus for several years.
    1985 -Fall - John Ruetten meets Sherri Rasmussen. He breaks off his relationship with
    Lazarus, who doesn't handle it well.
    John Ruetten becomes engaged to Sherri Rasmussen.
    Stephanie Lazarus Diary - "I'm shattered by John's engagement."
    "This is very bad. My concentration is negative-10."
    Entry - "I've asked for time off work because I'm too stressed
    out about John."

    Lazarus, crying, wakes up her roommate, LAPD Sgt. Mike Hargreaves to tell him
    John Ruetten has broken up with her, that he's told her he's getting married to
    someone else. Lazarus has previously told her roommate "John is my idea of a
    perfect guy."

    1985 - November - John Ruetten and Sherri Rasmussen are married.

    Sherri (Rasmussen) Ruetten (29) is Director of Critical-Care Nursing at Glendale Adventist
    Medical Center. She is well liked and her colleagues consider her a vital part of the nursing staff.

    Photo: Sherri Rae (Rasmussen) Ruetten

    December 1985 - January 1986

    Sherri (Rasmussen) Ruetten confides to her father that she fears a jealous ex-girlfriend
    of her husband is out to harm her. She tells him that the woman, in LAPD Officer uniform
    has shown up at the hospital and told her "If I can't have John, nobody can!"

    Another incident she relates to her father Nels, is that she came home
    to find the female
    LAPD Officer, in uniform, inside her home, confronting and threatening her. Sherri relates
    that she told the woman to "GET OUT!" Although concerned, Sherri does not telphone
    police to make out a complaint.

    1986 - February - Sherri telephones her father and tells him she believes the LAPD Officer
    has been following her around the city. Sherri hopes she can defuse the
    situation and put an end to the harassment. "I've got a problem I'm
    I'm dealing with and if I can't resolve it in two weeks I'll come back."

    Sherri receives a phone call, (allegedly) from Stephanie Lazarus in which
    Lazarus threatens her.

    A few days later.... MURDER

    1986- February - 24 - Sherri has strained her back during an aerobics workout and decides
    to stay home. John Ruetten kisses his wife and goes off to work, never
    imagining it would be the last time he'll see her alive.
    12:00 Noon - A maid at work in a nearby condo hears loud noises and screams coming
    from the Ruetten's unit, but does not notify police.

    It is during this time that (ALLEGEDLY) Officer Stephanie Lazarus attacks Sherri
    Ruetten inside Sherri & John's home, and the encounter turns deadly.
    Sherri fights for her life and that struggle takes place throughout the condo.
    During the struggle Sherri is bitten on the forearm. She is badly beaten
    and then shot three times with a .38 caliber gun into her heart and spine.
    6:00 P.M - John Ruetten returns home from work. Upon entering their condo he finds
    a bloody scene, and his wife Sherri, beaten and shot, lying deceased upon
    the floor. John immediately notifies police.
    Lead Detective Lyle Mayer & Det. Roger Pida arrive. Criminalist Lloyd Mahanay
    (L.A. Coroner's Office) & others collect evidence from the scene.
    Lloyd Mahanay swabs saliva from the bite wound on Sherri's forearm. The swab is
    logged into the agency's evidence room with other forensic evidence. Photos of
    Sherri's body and the bloody crime scene are logged into evidence.
    A stack of stereo equipment has been stacked next to Sherri's body.
    AUTOPSY (pdf format)


    The only items missing from the condo - John & Sherri's marriage license, and
    Sherri's silver BMW.


    Det. Mayer & Det. Pida's botched burglary, hinges on the stereo equipment
    stacked by Sherri's body, and her BMW being stolen. Their theory is further
    buttressed days later when a woman in the same area is robbed at gunpoint
    by two men.
    John Ruetten has mentioned his former girlfriend, calling her an acquaintance,
    in the report.

    Nels & Loretta Rasmussen meet with Detectives Mayer & Pida. Nels informs
    the detectives about Sherri's encounters with John's former girlfriend and voice
    their concerns that she may have been the perpetrator. As a result of their
    meeting, Nels & Loretta offer a $10,000 reward for the "men's capture"....
    the two "burglars" Mayer and Pida feel murdered Sherri.
    Sherri (Rasmussen) Ruetten's silver 1985, two door BMW is found with the keys in it,
    two miles from John & Sherri's condo.

    Several weeks after the murder, an LAPD Officer, Stephanie Lazarus files a report with
    the Santa Monica Police Department. According to Lazarus her vehicle has been broken
    into on 2nd street. Stolen from the vehicle are a gym bag with clothing; some cassettes;
    a few dollars......and....her personal .38 caliber snub nosed revolver.

    Photo of similar gun


    The two burglars Det.'s Mayer & Pida believe murdered Sherri (Rasmussen) Ruetten
    are never traced. Months go by and there are no leads in the case.
    Nels Rasmussen continues to speak with the detectives and insists they take a look
    at the LAPD Officer, Reutten's ex-girlfriend. "You've been watching too much tv" is
    all the response he gets.
    1988 - Two years later - Nels & Loretta Rasmussen are dismayed and frustrated.
    The investigation is stalled and there's been nothing done
    regarding their concerns that a police officer may have been
    Nels Rasmussen writes a letter to Chief Daryl F. Gates and
    asks him to intervene in the case. His concerns and request
    receive ..... nothing. No action. No response.

    The Rasmussens continue to try to appeal to the Van Nuys Police station to at least
    look into the situation. They are put on hold or hung up on. To add to their grief over
    their daughter's murder, a detective tells them "You should do yourselves a favor and
    move on with your lives."
    1991- FIVE YEARS - The Rasmussens know the LAPD will do nothing to solve their
    daughter Sherri's murder.
    Det. Mayer retires.

    Patrol Officer Stephanie Lazarus continues her career with the LAPD.
    She involves herself with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program ”D.A.R.E.
    as a Training Officer; makes homemade soaps and chocolate covered cherries as
    gifts; becomes Treasurer for L.A. Women Police Officer's Assocation for 5 years;
    starts up a Private Investigation Company - Unique Investigations.
    Lazarus gets married and the couple adopt a child.
    Stephanie Lazarus is nicknamed "Spaz" or "Spazarous" by others in the dept.
    for her "erratic behaviour when flustered, or angry."
    A Veteran LAPD Officer "We drank beers. She was always quick to give you a hug
    or tell a joke."

    Lazarus obtains promotion, to Detective.
    2000 - Ventura County Star profiles Lazarus's "Unique Investigations" business.
    2006 - Detective Stephanie Lazarus is promoted to a position tracking stolen artwork
    & forgeries. Lazarus is publicly commended for her work in dept. publications.

    Photo: Detective Stephanie Lazarus
    2007 - 2008 - Lazarus continues in her high profile position.

    2009 - February - Cold Case Detectives are reviewing older cases, Sherri (Rasmussen)
    Ruetten's case is among them.
    Investigators send blood and saliva samples from the crime scene
    to be tested. Once the results are back investigators rework the
    The DNA tests show that the samples are from a woman.

    Detectives re-interview John Ruetten, Nels and Loretta Rasmussen and the former
    investigators who conducted the original crime scene investigation. The Rasmussens
    inform investigators of their daughter's harassment by Lazarus and their concerns
    that she was responsible for Sherri's murder.
    The Cold Case Dept. is located across the hall from the Stolen Art Dept.where Lazarus
    works. Investigators restrict information to a very few, those investigating the case and
    higher ranking officials.
    Det. Lazarus has no idea she's under investigation, nor that she's being trailed by an
    undercover officer. As Lazarus goes about doing her errands, she discards an object
    with her saliva on it. The officer retrieves the object, which is sent for DNA testing.

    Det. Stephanie Ilene Lazarus's DNA matches conclusively the DNA genetic code
    taken from the saliva swab from the 1986 murder of Sherri (Rasmussen) Reutten.

    2009 - Stephanie Lazarus has been an employee of the LAPD for 25 years.
    23 years after Sherri Rae (Rasmussen) Ruetten's murder
    2009 - June - 5 - Parker Center - Det. Stephanie Lazarus (49) enters her office
    at LAPD Headquarters. Shortly afterwards she is informed that200
    a suspect located in the basement jail has information on one
    of her cases.
    Det. Lazarus removes her firearm prior to passing through the jail's
    Once through security and into the jail, Lazarus is confronted by
    Homicide Detectives and arrested.



    2009 - June 9 - Stephanie Lazarus (Former LAPD Detective) enters a plea of
    Not Guilty.
    Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry sets bail at $10 Million - in cash.
    "I believe it is a certainty that Lazarus would flee if the bail were set lower."

    Former LAPD Det. Stephanie Lazarus
    Photo Credit: Mark Boster - LA TIMES

    Photo Credit: Mark Boster - LA TIMES

    2009 - July 29 -

    Former LAPD Officer - Stephanie Lazarus
    Photo Credit - Nick Ut

    2009 - December 7 - Los Angeles County Superior Court -
    Lloyd Mahanay (Retired Criminalist, L.A. Coroner's Office) testifies that he
    had responded to the Reutten residence and in the course of collecting evidence
    swabbed saliva from a bite mark on Sherri (Rasmussen) Ruetten, related how the
    sample was logged into evidence.
    Mike Hargreaves, (Former LAPD Sgt.) a former roommate of Stephanie Lazarus
    testifies regarding Lazarus's upset at her former boyfriend's engagement to some
    one else. "Stephanie Lazarus woke him up (fall of 1985) crying because John
    Reutten had just broken up with her and that he'd told her he was getting married
    to someone else. Lazarus had earlier told him that "John was her idea of a perfect

    Stephanie Lazarus's diary entries are entered into evidence:
    "I'm shattered by John's engagement."
    "This is very bad. My concentration is negative-10."
    Entry - "I've asked for time off work because I'm too stressed out about John."

    Many within the department are stunned by Lazarus's arrest.
    Mary Grady (LAPD Spokeswoman) "The department has begun the process of
    figuring out why the original detectives failed to consider Lazarus a suspect.
    We will be working not only on the current case, but will also investigate the
    original homicide investigation. We're going to look at everything we can to
    bring to some justice to the family."

    Lyle Mayer (Retired LAPD Detective) has publicy contradicted Nels Rasmussen's
    statements, stating "I never discussed Lazarus with the Rasmussens. He also never
    interviewed Lazarus.

    Chief William Bratton (LAPD) "This individual was investigated and arrested by L.A.
    police officers who were going where the truth took them. Sometimes it's painful,
    but murder is also very painful."

    John Ruetten "It's safe to say we have some closure. It's been a horrible thing to go
    through it all again."

    Nels Rasmussen "I am extremely pleased and relieved."

    Loretta & Nels Rasmussen
    Photo Credit: Washington Post Newsweek
  5. by   qcc2011grad
    Sadly but true our society 99.99% let's cops get away with murder, rape, beating.
  6. by   lindarn
    Yesterday, Stephanis Lazarus was found guilty of First Degree Murder, by a jury in LA. She faces life in prison. I am overjoyed that she was finally caught and convicted. It is in the LA Times, and also on CNN. Her sentencing will be in May. It took the jury only one day to reach a verdict.

    I hope that Sherry can finally rest in peace. I hope that her family can finally have some closure. Sherry will never come back, but at least her family knows that this woman will pay for what she did. What a waste this whole thing was. She killed Sherry becaus she wanted John back, but after she kills Sherry, he still did not want her, and had no contact with her after Sherry died.

    It should have been obvious to her that their relationship was over, and she should have moved on. Her life is now over. She will be in jail for the rest of her life, and she has a young daughter, who will grow up without a mother. Was it worth it?

    JMHO and my NY $0.02.
    LIndarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Somewhere in the PACNW
  7. by   caliotter3
    Surprised that this was ever brought up again, seeing as how it involved a law enforcement officer, known for taking care of their own.
  8. by   lindarn
    The reason that this was brought up, was because there had been a downturn in crime in LA, at the time, and with time on their hands, the detectives decided to open up cold cases.

    The Police Chief, at the time it happened, ignored the family's request to question Stephanis Lazarus, and did not pursue the complaint against her. He was convinced that it was a home invasion for burglary gone bad. The family does believe that the fact that a police officer was the prime subject, was the reason he swept it under the rug. They are now pursuing a law suit against the LAPD because of it.

    With the availablity of DNA testing (which was not available at the time), the sample was retested, and it came back female, the new LA police department contacted the family. They once again brought up John's old, jealous girlfriend, and how she had stalked and threatened Sherry, but was never considered a suspect.

    They had undercover officers tail her, and they were able to obtain a soda can with a straw, from the trash, and tested it. It was, of course, a match.

    The entire thing was kept very hush hush, with only a few individuals who knew that she was a suspect. They confronted her, arrested her, and she has been in jail ever since.

    It was a very sad end to the entire thing. Once again, I hope that she can now rest in peace, and her family can get some comfort and closure, with the conviction.

    John moved back to San Diego, with his parents, after it happened, eventually remarreid, and had a family.

    What else can you say?

    Lindarn, RN, BSN,CCRN
    Somewhere in the PACNW
    Last edit by lindarn on Mar 10, '12