The Lazarus Files: A Cold Case Investigation

The Lazarus Files: A Cold Case Investigation

by Matthew McGough
The Lazarus Files: A Cold Case Investigation

The Lazarus Files: A Cold Case Investigation

by Matthew McGough


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A deeply-reported, riveting account of a cold case murder in Los Angeles, unsolved until DNA evidence implicated a shocking suspect – a female detective within the LAPD’s own ranks.

On February 24, 1986, 29-year-old newlywed Sherri Rasmussen was murdered in the home she shared with her husband, John. The crime scene suggested a ferocious struggle, and police initially assumed it was a burglary gone awry. Before her death, Sherri had confided to her parents that an ex-girlfriend of John’s, a Los Angeles police officer, had threatened her. The Rasmussens urged the LAPD to investigate the ex-girlfriend, but the original detectives only pursued burglary suspects, and the case went cold.

DNA analysis did not exist when Sherri was murdered. Decades later, a swab from a bite mark on Sherri’s arm revealed her killer was in fact female, not male. A DNA match led to the arrest and conviction of veteran LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus, John’s onetime girlfriend.

The Lazarus Files delivers the visceral experience of being inside a real-life murder mystery. McGough reconstructs the lives of Sherri, John and Stephanie; the love triangle that led to Sherri’s murder; and the homicide investigation that followed. Was Stephanie protected by her fellow officers? What did the LAPD know, and when did they know it? Are there other LAPD cold cases with a police connection that remain unsolved?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805095593
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/30/2019
Pages: 608
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Matthew McGough has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and more. His acclaimed memoir Bat Boy: Coming of Age with the New York Yankees was the basis of “Clubhouse,” a primetime TV series on CBS, and his story about his first day with the Yankees was selected to lead the pilot episode of The Moth Radio Hour. Formerly a legal consultant and writer for NBC’s Law & Order, he lives in LA with his wife and children.

Table of Contents

Part 1 Sheri, John, and Stephanie

1 The Aftermath (February 24, 1986) 3

2 Sherri Rasmussen (1957 to 1884) 10

3 John Ruetten (February 1984 to May 1985) 35

4 Stephanie Lazarus (1960 to March 1984) 53

5 "Admit Nothing. Deny Everything. Demand Proof." (March 4, 1984, to March 30, 1985) 74

6 Stephanie at Club Dev (March 31 to June 16, 1985) 102

7 The Hospital Confrontation (June to August 1985) 113

8 Night Stalkers (August 12 to October 12, 1985) 130

9 Tying the Knot (November to December 1985) 158

10 Warning Signs (December 1985 to January 1986) 169

11 The Month Before the Murder (Mid-January to February 23, 1986) 183

Part 2 The Murder of Sherri Rasmussen

12 Sherri's Final Day (February 24, 1986) 199

13 The Chrono and Crime Scene (February 24, 1986, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.) 204

14 John's Interview (February 24, 1986, 9:00 p.m.) 225

15 The Bite Mark Swab (Early Morning of Ftbruary 25, 1988) 250

16 "The Day Was Boring and Nothing Happened That Was Worth Remembering" (February 25, 1986) 278

17 The First 48 Hours Ends (February 26 and 27, 1986) 324

18 "God Holds the Key" (February 28 to March 2, 1986) 362

19 "A Well-Reasoned, Carefully-Documented and Insightful Investigation" (March 3 to April 8, 1986) 383

20 The Burglary Suspects (April 10 to May 21, 1986) 423

21 "There Is No Power on Earth More Formidable Than the Truth" (May 1986 to November 1987) 440

Part 3 The Murder of Catherine Braley

22 Catherine Braley (Januarys 1988) 493

Part 4 Epilogue

23 "We Do Not Condone Murder" (2008-2012) 539

Author's Note on Sources 591

Acknowledgments 594

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