Catching Rasmussen’s killer: a time line of the investigation

Time line from investigation to People v. Stephanie Lazarus Staff
March 2, 2012 | 1:19 a.m. PST
updated: March 8, 2012 | 2:41 p.m.

1978 – Stephanie Lazarus (b. 1960 – ) begins her studies at UCLA where she meets John Ruetten (b. 1959 – ) and begins a romantic relationship.
1981John Ruetten graduates from UCLA and moves into an apartment on Roscoe Blvd in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles
1982– Lazarus graduates from UCLA, and Ruetten attends.
1983 – Lazarus becomes an LAPD officer
February 1984 – Lazarus has a surprise birthday party for Ruetten’s 25th birthday.
February 29, 1984 – Lazarus purchases a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver.
June 1984 – Ruetten meets Sherri Rasmussen (b. 1957 – 1986) at a party and they immediately begin dating. At this time, Ruetten slowly stops seeing Lazarus
May 1985 – Ruetten moves out of his apartment on Rosco and into Rasmussen’s condo on Balboa.

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June 4, 1985 – Lazarus finds out that Ruetten is engaged to Rasmussen according to a journal entry and she is distraught about the news.
July 25, 1985 – Quit claim deed transfers condo from Nels Rasmussen to his daughter and Ruetten
August 6, 1985 – A letter from Lazarus was sent to Ruetten’s mother where she writes, ”I’m truly in love with John and the past year has really torn me up. I wish it didn’t end the way it did, and I don’t think I’ll ever understand his decision.”
November 24, 1985 – Sherri Rasmussen and John Ruetten are married in Pasadena, California
February 24, 1986 – Sherri Rasmussen is murdered at her town house at 7100 Balboa Blvd in Van Nuys, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. She called in sick from her job as a nurse and stay home. She is bitten, beat and shot three times in the chest with a .38 caliber gun that was using Federal +P 125 grain semi jacketed cartridges.
March 9, 1986 – Lazarus reports to the Santa Monica Police Department that her .38 caliber revolver was stolen. This gun in never recovered.
April 11, 1986 – A burglary occurs near Rasmussen’s home where two suspects entered a dwelling, brandished weapon and attempted to steal stereo equipment. LAPD detective Lyle Mayor concludes that the two suspects killed Rasmussen during an interrupted burglary.
September 25, 1986 – Ruetten sells the condo that his wife was murdered in. He makes San Diego home where his parents live.
1989 – Ruetten meets Lazarus in Hawaii and they start a sexual relationship again.
April 1992 – Lazarus meets future husband Scott Young, an LAPD officer.
1996 – Lazarus gets married to Young.
May 1997 – Finger print analysis of the Rasmussen crime scene is conducted. There is a print that is never identified and none of them match Lazarus as they will find out later.
September 19, 2003 – blood evidence from Rasmussen crime scene first requested for analysis.
October 21, 2004 – an email between Jennifer Francis, LAPD Criminalist and cold case Det. Cliff Shepard mentioned that bite mark swab should be searched from the coroner’s office for analysis.
November 1, 2004 – Francis sends email to Det. Shepard inquiring the whereabouts of bite swab evidence.
December 20, 2004 – Dan Anderson of the LA County Coroner’s office received request for bite mark evidence which he could not locate.
December 22, 2004 – The bite swab evidence was found at the LA County Coroner.
December 30, 2004Bite mark evidence was picked up from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office by LAPD criminalist Milena Srbova and delivered to LAPD’s crime lab for analysis.
February 8, 2005 – Francis completes her first report of DNA analysis from evidence from the Rasmussen crime scene including that of a bite that revealed a female assailant for the first time. A complete DNA profile was extracted from the saliva in that bit. At this time the LAPD were unaware of the identity of that DNA profile.
January 2006 – Lazarus joins the Art Theft Detail of LAPD’s Commercial Crimes division. Only two detectives work this detail.
May 28, 2009 – LAPD detectives Roberto Morales and Dante Palacio secretly acquired a saliva sample from a Lazarus’ discarded drink cup at a Costco trash can
June 2009 – Francis informs LAPD detectives that Lazarus’ DNA is a match to saliva taken from the bite on Rasmussen’s arm.
June 5, 2009 – Lazarus is first questioned by LAPD Detectives Daniel Jaramillo and Greg Stearns for over an hour and then arrested for the 1986 murder of Rasmussen.
June 6, 2009 – Francis completes report that included an analysis of Lazarus DNA which was a match to the bite mark on Rasmussen’s left arm.
August 21, 2009 – Dr. Cathy Law obtained a dental cast of Lazarus which was not able to be matched to the 23 year-old bite mark on Rasmussen’s left arm.
September 20, 2009 – Private lab, SIRE, replicates DNA tests of the LAPD for confirmation. They confirm the same results, that Lazarus’ DNA profile is a match to that of the bite mark swab gathered in 1986
November 2009 – Ruetten interviews with LAPD investigators.
December 2009 – Preliminary hearing of People v. Lazarus
February 6, 2012 – Trial in People v. Lazarus begins in downtown Los Angeles in Judge Robert Perry’s court.
February 24, 2012 – The prosecution presents their last witness against Lazarus, on the 13th day of trial.
February 28, 2012 – The defense closes their case after two days.
March 5, 2012 – The defense and prosecution will argue their case in front if the jury. This is expected to last the entire day.

March 6, 2012 – Jury is expected to start deliberating on the case against Lazarus. The jury received the case and deliberate for less than 2-hours.

March 7, 2012 – The jury requests to have trial transcripts read back to them in open court. The reading is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. the following morning.

March 8, 2012
In the 11:00 a.m. hour, shortly before noon, the jury informs the court that they reached a verdict.

At 1:47 p.m. The clerk in Judge Robert Perry’s court reads a GUILTY verdict in the murder of Sherri Rasmussen. Lazarus is also found to have used a firearm during the commision of a crime. Lazarus will be sentenced on May 4, 2012 and she is expected to receive a 27 year sentence.

– immediately after the verdict is read, Lazarus family members are escorted out the court by Sheriff’s Deputies, including her mother.

– Lazarus remained emotionless during the verdict and thereafter.

– 2:20 p.m Defense attorney Mark Overland addresses the media and states that “this is the first round” suggesting that there will be an appeal filed.

– 2:35 p.m. Attorney John Taylor gives a press conference on behalf of Rasmussen’s family. He confirms a civil lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the LAPD. The family did not speak and Taylor would not answer questions regarding the 1986 investigation.

Posted by on Mar 2 2012. Filed under Features, People of CA v. Stephanie Lazarus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

6 Comments for “Catching Rasmussen’s killer: a time line of the investigation”

  1. stef

    ****Today’s the verdict!**** What’s it gonna be???
    I’ve been watching this case closely, and it’s hard to say what’s gonna happen.

  2. Lazarus was found GUILTY of murder and the gun allegation was also found to be true.

  3. Beast

    this time line was very informative. Did the jury speak to anyone after?

  4. […] Lazarus, 52, has been incarcerated in the Los Angeles County jail since her 2009 arrest for the 1986 murder of Sherri Rasmussen, but she is on her way to Chowchilla, California where California’s two prisons for women are […]

  5. Alanna

    I am so glad Stephanie was found guilty. If you look at all of her pictures,. she looks insane in over half of them. Her eyes are so weird. She is a very sick woman. Not only did she ki*l this woman. she went and looked up Sherry’s husband to have sex with him in Hawaii. She was very persuasive and probably told him how sorry she was that it happened. Women like Stephanie Lazarus are what is wrong with our society. They can seem so normal, yet are completely insane and get away with the most horrific crimes that hurt us all. The Rasmussen family went through hell, and still are, without their sweet daughter. Stephanie Lazarus had a job that require the public trust. She deserved to be executed immediately. And for her mother to deny that her daughter did it, is the most outrageous denial that she can make. Why is it the rest of the world knows she did it, but her family doesn’t. I know there is supposed to be good in all humans, but Stephanie Lazarus is evil incarnate. I am so glad I got to tell my opinion because this case has bothered me since I first read about it.

  6. Ken Reid

    It’s cases like this that shows how Police Departments protect their own. If only Sherri didn’t call in sick. Maybe Stephanie would of found another way to get Sherri. People forget if it wasn’t for the love of her father maybe it would still be a Cold Case. I’m sure Stephanie thought every day is this the day it’s over. She not up for Parole until 2026. John sounds like a real jerk his wife was just ki*led and he has sex with another woman. WTF

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