NBC Dateline: Who is Sherri Rasmussen's killer and where is she now?

Stephanie Lazarus convicted in the 1986 murder case of Sherri Rasmussen (Image via @SLMpodcast/Twitter, IMDb)
Stephanie Lazarus convicted in the 1986 murder case of Sherri Rasmussen (Image via @SLMpodcast/Twitter, IMDb)

NBC's Dateline will explore the story of Stephanie Lazarus, who was found guilty of murdering Sherri Rasmussen. In 1986, she allegedly bit and shot 29-year-old Rasmussen.

The victim's husband and Lazarus' ex-boyfriend John Ruetten came home to the dead body of his wife lying on the living room floor of the newly wedded couple's Los Angeles home in Van Nuys.

The LAPD detective was sentenced for 27 years to life in 2012 for killing her ex-boyfriend's wife in an outburst of jealousy more than two decades ago. The jury convicted her of first-degree murder.

The 1986 murder case of Sherri Rasmussen remained unsolved for years, with the authorities thinking that the murder was the result of a burglary gone wrong. After DNA from a bite mark on the victim's arm matched LAPD officer Lazarus, the case was opened again.

Authorities had long suspected Lazarus to be the murderer in the case, especially after the victim's family revealed that she had threatened Rasmussen. However, they only gathered solid evidence for the same in 2009 and then called her in for an interrogation under pretence.

Who is Sherri Rasmussen's killer, Stephanie Lazarus?


Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten both graduated from UCLA. They lived in the same dorm during their college years and dated seriously, but the relationship did not pan out. Stephanie eventually joined the LAPD, but could not get over her ex-boyfriend. She wa sdevastated to learn that was in a serious relationship with Sherri Rasmussen, a 29-year-old nursing director.

Several incidents place place even before the murder, that sparked concern in Sherri in regard to the jealous and intimidating Stephanie. The detective harassed her at her workplace and showed up uninvited to their house.

Stephanie was a strong suspect as per Sherri's family, so her DNA sample was acquired secretly during her working hours, and a match was established. Stephanie's pistol, which she had reported stolen only thirteen days after the incident, matched the weapon used at the crime site.

Surprisingly, she reported her stolen pistol to a police station other than her own. Stephanie was finally arrested for the crime she committed twenty-three years ago on June 5, 2009.

Where is Stephanie Lazarus now after being convicted for Sherri Rasmussen's murder?


Stephanie Lazarus retired from the LAPD, with her bail hearing resulting in a cash settlement of $10 million. It was taken as a precaution to prevent her from escaping the country or getting firearms via her detective spouse. The trial started in 2012 and drew a lot of media interest because of the story's nature — a love triangle with a police officer as the suspect.

Lazarus was also charged with breaking the confidence of the LAPD by utilizing her expertise as a police officer to carry out her homicidal plans. Stephani Lazarus was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to 27 years to life in prison in March 2012, based on all of the evidence presented in court.


She later filed an appeal, arguing that the evidence supporting the burglar theory was not provided at the trial. Her petition was refused in 2015, and the California Court of Appeal affirmed the guilty conviction. Stephanie is presently incarcerated in the California Institution for Women in Corona, where she is serving a term of 27 years to life. She might be eligible for parole in 2034.

NBC's Dateline will explore the 1986 murder case of Sherri Rasmussen and discuss how Stephanie Lazarus was convicted in 2012 for first-degree murder. Do not forget to check it out!

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Edited by Mohini Banerjee