Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

VIDEO: The Cop-on-Cop Interrogation of Stephanie Lazarus

Stephanie Lazarus during the interrogation, starting to crack a bit.

If you’ve got an hour to watch (or even just listen to) someone’s life fall apart, this video is for you. In 1986, Stephanie Lazarus, a rookie LAPD patrol officer, brutally murdered her ex-boyfriend’s new wife, Sherri Rae Rasmussen. Lazarus, by virtue of being Rasmussen’s romantic rival, was initially a suspect but was quickly cleared. She continued working for the LAPD and was promoted to detective.

In 2009, two detectives questioned her about her relationship with Rasmussen. Over the course of an hour, the conversation turns from friendly chat to interrogation and Lazarus becomes increasingly nervous and agitated as she realizes what’s going on. The detectives conducting the interview were careful to maintain a modicum of police solidarity while questioning Lazarus, allowing her to feel comfortable and open up about her relationship with ex John Ruetten, Rasmussen’s widower. She initially appears confident that she’s only being consulted about the case because of her social connection to the victim–after all, it had been two decades and she’d been questioned and cleared once before. But as the detectives zone in on the conflict between the two women, Lazarus claims that a confrontation between her and Rasmussen “may have happened” but she cannot recall for sure. She continues to feign incredulity at their line of questioning, and to claim that she does not remember any altercation, until one of the detectives tells her that he’d remember getting into a physical fight with someone, even after 20 years.

In 2012, Lazarus was convicted of murder and sentenced to 27 years to life.

Stephanie Lazarus and the Murder of Sherri Rae Rasmussen

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