A killer in plain sight.



This crime is about a murder that was almost considered a perfect kill, this a murder about an innocent woman gun down in her own home and this crime goes unsolved for decades until the DNA evidence identifies the killer and it shocks the entire police force.

Van Nuys, California Friday 24,1986 at 7am.

A young 29 year old nursing administrator Sherri Rasmussen and her husband 27 year old John Rutten, were preparing for just an average work day in there home. These two had been married for only 4 months, many people said they very much were still in there honeymoon phase. On a normal day she would normally would be the first to leave but on this day she wasn’t. Sherri wasn’t feeling to well so she decided she was going to stay home for a while.

Sometime around mid morning John calls home to check on Sherri, but there was no answer. Unfortunaly for John he couldn’t simply check up on her due to the fact his job was 7 miles away from there home. He then assumes that she was feeling better so being the loving caring husband he was he decided to call her work, only to find out she wasn’t there and that they hadn’t seen her.

He then continues to call throughout the day wanting to make sure his new wife was okay. So he called about another 4 to 5 times all these called are then left unanswered. At this point in time he begins to become alarmed and worried. John then returns home around 6pm to find glass from a near by patio door shattered across the driveway, the garage was left open but Sherri’s BMW wasn’t there, and the door leading from the garage to the condo was ajar. John then steps into the condo but he wasn’t ready for what was left in the home.

What he finds is his new wife Sherri laying on the floor beaten and battered and still dressed in her bathrobe from this morning. Sherri had no shoes on and there was blood everywhere. There was also a gunshot rune directly in the centre of her chest. John the proceeds to call 911 and within minutes the police are on the scene. It was very obvious to the police that Sherri was involved in a violent struggle. The police notice that she had bruises on her face, neck and body. Some broken pieces of a shattered vase was found around Sherri body, which means this vase was most likely used to strike her over the head.

Upstairs one of two balcony doors were shattered, they also look down the stairwell and see objects such as VCR’s and other electronic equipment. As the investigation was going on they find a bloody smudge on top of one of the VCR’s the whole scene look like there was a burglary in progress and she had simply just surprised them. There was also a bloody handprint found near the panic button next to the alarm system. They seemed like to be no sign of of forced entry into the home. This then asks the question did this personal allow them in or did this person have a key.

Later on it was discovered that there wasn’t one bullet wound to Sherri’s chest but there was three. Any of these shots she received would’ve killed her instantly. But who could’ve killed this woman as far as anyone was concerned she no known enemies, the biggest clue comes from Sherri herself. Located on her upper arm there was a human bite mark, the bite mark was quickly swabbed for salvia and a bite mark impression was taken for later analysis, beside the bite mark the killer left very little evidence at the crime scene for detective to go on.

They have 38 calibre bullets found at the scene but there was no gun, there was also blood smudge, however there was no way they could not get a transferable print from the smudge. They had no witness statements and no surveillance footage. The one they do know is that Sherri’s BMW which was a gift from her husband was now missing. The only other missing item which was in the home was the couples wedding certificate which seemed awfully unusual.

However with all this the police still stick by there point that this attacker was a random intruder. On the other hand, Sherri’s father thinks that this killing may have something to do with Sherri’s husband John Redden. The day after the murder, Sherri’s father gets a phone call but not from John, but in fact John’s father to notify him about his daughter murder. He was fast to question why wasn’t it John who was telling him about the murder. This is where Sherri’s father phones John and demands and answer and John just simply hangs up.

In this case the husband was never the main suspect but Sherri’s father though otherwise he told and explained to the police about the many conversation he had with his daughter about John and a pass lover. The police ignored this and focus more on the theory of finding a suspect that fit there burglary gone wrong theory. The reason this seemed m0re likely was for the fact that at the time there was a string of robberies in the area close to Sherri’s home.

A few days after the murder of Sherri, there was a woman who was robbed at gun point. Then several months after that there was two men who later robbed another woman.

Sherri’s father tried to get the police to take a serious look at John ex girlfriend, Sherri’s father then becomes very engaged in the case he hold’s press conferences. He then offers a $10,000 reward for any clues for the arrest of the person who murdered his daughter. This then leads her father for the next 5 years to beg the police to look much deeper into his daughter’s case.

When there was no new leads in the case and no new suspects, the case grows cold it then get’s pushed to the side and forgotten.

December 2004, Los Angeles California.

The cold case unit goes though a bunch of cold case files only to then reopen the case for the Sherri Rasmussen murder. The new investigator takes a look though the new file and the one thing that caught her eye was the DNA samples taken at the crime scene, but somehow the DNA evidence was taken from the list. It took a while for her to locate the DNA samples the most likely place was that they were kept in the freezer. However that was not where she found them after hours and hours of searching she eventually found a brown envelope with Rasmussen, Sheri on it, to her relief she find the swabbed DNA samples, which have been left untouched for over 18 years.

When they sent the samples off for analyst they then got the results a month later. These results turn the case on it’s head. They then get the profile and then it was confirmed later that the bite mark on Sherri’s arm was actually female. After this once again the evidence was placed on the side.

Los Angeles, California February 2009.

The crime rate around the city falls so this give the police time to focus on the case once they return to the cold case murder.

With the need evidence the police then concluded that the crime scene was actually staged which means the person who committed these crimes had key knowledge, this lead the police to think possibly this crime was committed by one of there own.

23 years after Sherri’s murder the police were finally able to limit the murder down to 5 female suspects however they were very fast to eliminate 4 of them out of the picture. This left only one and the police officers called her suspect number 5. A name of a woman innocently appears on a log screen, it was a message from November 19th 1987 it state to confirm the name of John Rutten ex partner name which was Stephanie Lazarus a police officer. But she wasn’t just any officer she was known as one of there best and brightest so now they had to watch one of there own.

The police set a special team to track her movements following wherever she went they eventually see her going into a Costco and she has a slice of pizza and a coke. When she leaves they recover the cup she was using and bag it straight away to take down for evidence. They swab the straw for DNA and then they then compare it to the DNA at the crime scene 23 years earlier. The DNA was a 100% match.

Van Nuys, California June 5th, 2009.

Stephine Lazarus heads to work as normal the special task force meanwhile set the ball in motion to disarm and bring Lazarus into custody. They tell her once she arrives there a suspect in custody that needs to be interviewed and is asked to accompany another officer downstairs.

She is then asked about John and she goes back and forth between I know him and I don’t know him but eventually she goes along the lines of I met him at a party. They asked if she ever gotten into a fight with Sherri and she denied it all. They then reveal about the DNA match in the Sherri’s murder. They then ask for testing to so she could eliminate herself as a suspect in the murder case.

At this point she then realises that she is becoming the primary suspect in the investigation. Once outside the room she is met by another group of police officers, who then proceed to take her into custody while doing so a police officer simply states to her ‘ salvia works wonders’

At this point 49 year old CPD detective Stephine Lazarus is then arrest and then charge with murder in the 1st degree for Sherri Rasmussen. During the trial the prosecution were straight to the point saying how Lazarus was the one responsible for Sherri Rasmussen bite mark. They stay there was a great struggle between the two women and at some point Sherri had Lazarus in a head lock, so she was forced to bite her arm in order to escape this headlock,  the bullets that were taken from the body match those of the gun that Lazarus used on the force, but two days after the murder the gun was ironically stolen from a workout bag which was in her car.

To identify the motive for this murder they highlight the key of obsession that Stephine had with John the man she dated before she was dumped and the same man who married Sherri. The man who married Sherri had been quiet throughout the many years of his wife murder but he was called to the witness stands and drops a bombshell.

John admits that he was doing a lot of sexual activities with Lazarus prior to the marrying Sherri. He admits that he receives multiple phone calls from Stephine begging him to stay with her and how she used sex as a means to keep him in the relationship. After the murder John Rutten ends up having sex with her two more times and he was obviously oblivious that she was the one who murdered his wife out of jealousy.

Her defence was simply using her character and about all her excellent performances while working in the force to put doubt in the juries mind that she was capable of such a crime.


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