That's a Bad Sign

Pt 2 of David Russell Williams and the murder of Sherri Rasmussen

March 25, 2021 Emily Winchurch & Liz Mahoney Season 1 Episode 29
That's a Bad Sign
Pt 2 of David Russell Williams and the murder of Sherri Rasmussen
Chapters
That's a Bad Sign
Pt 2 of David Russell Williams and the murder of Sherri Rasmussen
Mar 25, 2021 Season 1 Episode 29
Emily Winchurch & Liz Mahoney

PART 2 of our two part episode on David Russell Williams. He was a “shining star” in the Canadian Military, a model officer with 23 years of service...unfortunately Williams had a vile secret which would end up ruining the lives of everyone he met. Then we cover the murder of Sherri Rasmussen, who was shot three times in her own home. The case was initially labeled as a botched burglary – it went cold for years before a group of LAPD detectives took interest in it and solved the case in a matter of months.

Sources:
https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/tyler-hadleys-killer-party-54270/
https://abcnews.go.com/US/best-friend-ruined-life-killed-parents/story?id=23189582
https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/russell-williams-case
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261358214_A_case_study_of_D_Russell_Williams
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Williams_(criminal)
The Canadian Podcast
https://filmdaily.co/obsessions/true-crime/sherri-rasmussen-killer/
https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/07/lapd-lazurus-murder-mystery-killer
https://filmdaily.co/news/stephanie-lazarus/

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/badsign)

Show Notes Transcript

PART 2 of our two part episode on David Russell Williams. He was a “shining star” in the Canadian Military, a model officer with 23 years of service...unfortunately Williams had a vile secret which would end up ruining the lives of everyone he met. Then we cover the murder of Sherri Rasmussen, who was shot three times in her own home. The case was initially labeled as a botched burglary – it went cold for years before a group of LAPD detectives took interest in it and solved the case in a matter of months.

Sources:
https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/tyler-hadleys-killer-party-54270/
https://abcnews.go.com/US/best-friend-ruined-life-killed-parents/story?id=23189582
https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/russell-williams-case
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261358214_A_case_study_of_D_Russell_Williams
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Williams_(criminal)
The Canadian Podcast
https://filmdaily.co/obsessions/true-crime/sherri-rasmussen-killer/
https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/07/lapd-lazurus-murder-mystery-killer
https://filmdaily.co/news/stephanie-lazarus/

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/badsign)

Episode 29
Liz: [00:00:00] We're back we're back. And I can't wait to hear the end of your story. 
Emily: [00:00:05] That is true. Part two is coming up 
Liz: [00:00:08] Justin Case, you guys don't know you're listening to, that's a bad sign, Liz and I'm 
Emily: [00:00:12] Emily. And I think our show now is better known as tabs tabs 
Liz: [00:00:16] for all our fans out there. I agree. 
Emily: [00:00:19] So we will start off with recommendation corner 
Liz: [00:00:23] this week, and I just kind of have like a funny story that can kind of tie into.
I recommendation. It's not really a story. It's just funny go. So yesterday was St. Patrick's day. We were recording a little bit early this week and I got a text from my mother who says I'm going for a walk with my Irish friend. And I go, who. And she said Nora that's Emily's mom. So our mothers went for a St Patrick's day walk.
And my mom said, and we might even have a glass after. 
Emily: [00:00:53] Oh my God. When you said your mother's Irish friend, I thought is that my mom? That's exactly. My mom is very Irish. That 
Liz: [00:01:01] is so cute. It's so cute. So funny, everyone go for a walk with your friends, your Irish friends. Yes. Only Irish. 
Emily: [00:01:08] So my recommendation is also just a story.
It's not a recommendation. So for everyone that listened last week, I am covering the crimes of Russel Williams. And last week was part one. And this week is part two. So last night I was listening to a podcast about him and I was lying in bed and my boyfriend wanted to go to sleep. So he turned off the lights.
So I was lying in bed, listening to this podcast about this murderer, with the lights off. And then the podcasts started playing real clips of him talking you. I could only do it for like five to seven minutes. I got really creeped out, especially as I was lying in bed and it's dark out or it's like, the lights are off.
Yeah. So I stopped listening thought I was crazy. Whatever went to bed. I woke up this morning, terrified I had the scariest dream. I had a dream that a serial killer who actually was the bad guy in the show that we recommended last week. Tell me your secrets. Oh yes. He was chasing me and no matter where I would hide, he would find me.
That's so creepy. Also, you are my dream and you wouldn't help me. 
Liz: [00:02:17] Oh my God. I'm such a bad friend. You are like, I'm like get out of my house. I would never do that to you in real life. And then I 
Emily: [00:02:25] woke up and I couldn't believe how scary my dream was. Cause I haven't had a dream like that in a really long time.
And then I realized it's probably because I was listening to a killer speak right 
Liz: [00:02:34] before I went to sleep. It might be because of that. Yeah. That's that's that, that happened to me. When I was binge watching Homeland, I was having the craziest dreams. So maybe watch something lighthearted before bed.
That's another recommendation. That's the recommendation. That's good. All right, let's get into part two of your story. 
Emily: [00:02:53] We have wine this time, so cheers. 
Liz: [00:02:55] Cheers.
Emily: [00:03:07] All right, everybody. This is part two of the two part series of David Russell Williams. So I covered the first half of his life in crimes in last week's episode. So if you haven't listened to it yet, make sure to go back in the meantime, I will give you a very quick SparkNotes version of last week's episode.
So David Russell Williams was very high up in the Canadian Royal forces. So Canada's army and he seemed to have such a normal life. He had a beautiful wife, he owned two homes and he was an air force pilot that quickly Rose in the ranks of the Canadian army. And he was very well-respected. People did not realize though that he actually had a very dark side where he would break into people's homes, often people who are out of town, but had young children and he would take their clothing and photograph himself 
Liz: [00:04:04] specifically underwear, specifically 
Emily: [00:04:06] underwear.
That was a really hard sentence to say. He then escalated to raping two different woman. In September of 2009, the first woman was on September 17th and we don't know her name as it wasn't released to the public, but the second her name was Lori mascot and she was raped on September 30th, 2009. Add the last thing I'll say from last week's episode was there were no leads that the police had, but they did have the general area where these attacks were taking place and the burglaries.
I can't say burglary, it's a tough one moving on. So they went door to door, asking people if they had seen anything suspicious, they could had any clues. And also the place we're looking for a suspect possibly. So going door to door, they did come across Williams' home. However he wasn't around. But once they looked at the mailbox and realized whose house they were at, they were overheard saying to each other, well, I guess we don't have to talk to this guy.
And they 
Liz: [00:05:09] left. Because he was such a well-known high ranking officer. Right? Exactly. 
Emily: [00:05:15] So now I will begin the second part of his crimes. On the night of November 3rd, 2009 in Brighton, a town just West of Trenton Williams broke into the home of corporal Marie France, comi. She was a military flight attendant at the Trenton base.
So many of her family members were in the military. So it was kind of a dream of hers to follow in her family's footsteps. But at the same time, she loved to travel. So it only made sense that she would be a flight attendant in the military. I did not know that was a thing. 
Liz: [00:05:50] I also didn't know that was a thing, but that makes sense.
It definitely does. I just have never thought about it. 
Emily: [00:05:55] She met Williams on a flight and they had a brief conversation where she revealed that she lived alone after the flight. He simply looked her up in the military system and got her address and her work schedule. He then later that day went to her house because he knew that she was working and he started assessing the home of his next target.
When he was there, he filed through her personal possessions, taking photos of himself, wearing her underwear. He even took photos of himself holding her sex toys, and one right next to our air force uniform. I 
Liz: [00:06:29] cannot get over how creepy. This is 
Emily: [00:06:31] a word a week later, November 22nd, 2009. He broke into our home again, but this time she was there.
He was hiding, but overheard her on a call and knew that she was just about to go to bed. Sue is hiding downstairs, waiting for her to fall asleep, but then he heard her calling for her cat. She wanted to have her cat come upstairs before she went to sleep. When Williams looked down, he saw the cat staring at him.
So he knew that she was going to come down and enter into the room where he was hiding. So the moment she walked in and bent down to get the cat. He lunged to attack her. He did miss. So she was able to run away. However, just like you'd seen a movie, she tripped over a duffel bag and he caught her. 
Liz: [00:07:20] Oh no.
Emily: [00:07:21] He beat her over the head with a flashlight, then tied her up and began taking pictures of the struggling woman. After a bit, he did untie her and he did say that she could go upstairs and the two are going to make their way to the bedroom. As they were going up the stairs, she began to run. He caught up to her and slammed her head against the wall, rendering her unconscious.
He carried her body up into our bed and while she was passed out, he raped her repeatedly. And this time he filmed it. At one point, he left the room to look out the window to see if anybody was outside. And she started to regain her consciousness. So she tried to escape by running to the bathroom. He again, caught up with her and in the bathroom, he slammed her head against a picture frame on the wall.
And again, she passed out. He continued to rape her and videotape it and take more pictures while she was passed out. When she did come to again, she started to beg this time. So she's passed out three different times from him hitting her. When she was begging, he filmed it on his camera, Williams then assured her that she would not die.
And he was going to let her live. Once he was finished, he continued to rape her. And then he told her he was done. But instead of letting her live, he duct taped her mouth and nose shut so she could not breathe. Within minutes. She died of asphyxiation. 
Liz: [00:08:52] I don't even have any comments during those because it's so graphic.
And so horrifying 
Emily: [00:08:59] left her house, leaving her body in her bed, wrapped in her sheets. It wasn't until 30 hours later where her boyfriend finally went to her home because he knew that she wasn't responding to his phone calls and he broke into her house and found his girlfriend's lifeless body in bed. He called the police instantly and they searched her house for clues while they made this announcement and continued their investigation.
Williams wrote a personal letter and sent his condolences to her father. 
Liz: [00:09:30] Oh my God. Oh, I hate him. 
Emily: [00:09:35] Can you imagine that you ma you raped her and murdered her and then you're reaching out to her father. It's a way to, I guess, insert yourself. It's horrific. 
Liz: [00:09:44] Yeah. It's honest. It's disgusting. 
Emily: [00:09:47] Two months later, 27 year old, Jessica Lloyd was attacked on January 28th, 2010 Williams didn't know Jessica.
He just noticed her one day when he drove by her house, after picking her out a few days later, he hit in her backyard waiting for her to get home. Once she did. He watched her through her windows to make sure that she lived alone. Once he saw that she went to bed and turn off her light, he broke in through the basement through a broken window.
He went to our bedroom and while she was sleeping, he took photos of her. The moment she woke up, he attacked her and tied her up with rope. He forced Jessica to put on underwear and pose for photos, then raped her repeatedly. He then ordered her to put a coat on and escorted her out to his car. Williams was now doing something very new.
He was bringing home a victim to his house for the first time his house. 
Liz: [00:10:44] Oh, but his, his wife lives in a different town, right? 
Emily: [00:10:48] Yeah. So his wife is not home. When they arrived at his cottage. He made her take a shower again, filming her. He then got in the shower. But at this point her arms were restrained so tightly that they were purple.
She begged for mercy, but he continued to rape her for hours. She then told him that she didn't feel well and she needed medical assistance. He ignored her, but then she started to have a seizure. He watched and filmed it for 15 minutes. Oh my 
Liz: [00:11:17] God, this just keeps getting worse. 
Emily: [00:11:20] After the seizure, he said he wants to rape her one more time, then he'd let her go.
But instead he continued this for hours and actually emailed his office saying that he had the flu and couldn't come in for work. So mind you, he first attacked her when she was falling asleep. Let's say it's 10 or 11. So now it's morning time and it's still going on. The torture lasted an entire day.
And then at 8:00 PM, he gave her her clothes back and told her to get dressed and he would give her food. He recorded the whole incidence of her eating. Again, so weird. He finally said it was time to go and he began to walk her to the door saying he was going to drive her home. Now, when they finally got to the door, he hit her over the head with a flashlight and strangled her to death.

Liz: [00:12:07] hate that. He's like giving these women false hope. Oh, it's almost like another way of torturing them. 
Emily: [00:12:13] And it sounds like she was complying because he kept saying, you will be, let go, you will live. And he was lying. Now that she was dead. He took more photos of her lifeless body and then moved her into his garage.
He had worked the following day because he had a big meeting. So he left for the office, leaving her body in his garage after work. He then went to his wife's home and spent a lovely weekend with his wife. 
You 
Emily: [00:12:42] eventually did have to go back to the cottage where he disposed of her body, but by this time it was a whole weekend and Jessica was reported missing.
Whoever at the police for the first time had not one clue, but two William's using his car to leave her house left tire tracks near her home in the mud. Also some witnesses reported seeing a silver truck in a field near her house. 
Liz: [00:13:10] Finally some clues. 
Emily: [00:13:11] So now a week after her disappearance, the cops in town want to conduct an extensive canvassing of all motorists using the highway near her.
So they created a fake DUI checkpoint to observe the tires of trucks that passed. William was driving on this highway and he was driving his silver Nissan Pathfinder. So when he was pulled over, an officer noticed the resemblance of his tires. However William's interaction with the officer was cut short because he told the officer that he had to get home quickly as he had a sick child at home.
Liz: [00:13:46] I just feel like that's such an excuse. Like that's the oldest trick in the book. 
Emily: [00:13:50] Oh yeah. My wife's in labor, my child sick, the color of his car matching the silver truck spotted on the night of Lloyd's murder and the same tire tracks. The police became suspicious of Williams. They ran a check on him.
And since he was the commander at the Canadian forces base, there was a file on him. And although it was very impressive and it showed that he was married, it proved that he had no your children. Ah, 
Liz: [00:14:15] see, you're always going to get caught in 
Emily: [00:14:17] your lie. So the investigators had asked themselves, why would he lie?
Unfairly seventh, 2010 Williams was called by the Ottawa police and asked to come in for routine questioning. When he arrived, they asked him to remove his shoes. Then the interrogation began and it lasted 10 hours. Although all the information and all the evidence was circumstantial. The evidence against him was beginning to look suspicious.
His car was the same color as what the witnesses saw and his tracks matched what they found at the scene. When they took his shoes, they found that it matched a shoe print of a random break-in. Also all the victims either live near his home or his wife's home, the one victim that didn't fit this pattern he had worked with.
Liz: [00:15:10] Yeah. I'm just like sitting here waiting for them to drop the hammer. When he realize 
Emily: [00:15:15] how guilty he looked and was told that the police had a warrant to search his home. He confessed, he admitted to dozens of crimes and even told the police where they could find evidence inside his home, including his films.
He said that he wants to save his wife, the pain of a large investigation. So he instantly pled 
Liz: [00:15:33] guilty. I mean, if he had any shred of humanity in him, that was it. I don't think 
Emily: [00:15:38] it's humanity. I think he cares about perception. He cares about what his wife thinks about him and what the Canadian army thinks about 
Liz: [00:15:44] him.
True. He's a narcissist 
Emily: [00:15:46] exactly. From what I can tell his wife, wasn't aware of these activities, she's come forward, apologizing for his behavior. And also they lived apart a majority of their lives. 
Liz: [00:15:57] Yeah, 
Emily: [00:15:57] totally. Along with the murder charges, Williams was charged with breaking and entering forceful confinement and sexual assault and sentence to two concurrent terms of life imprisonment with no consideration of parole for 25 years.
However, I believe this is in Canada. Everyone gets parole. 
Liz: [00:16:16] Yes. We learned that in. I can't remember which other case that we covered because it was also, I think twenty-five years on a murder charge and we were both confused as to why they would ever get paroled. But one of our listeners messaged us and said, I think the Canadian justice system is like mostly about reform.
So everyone gets the chance for parole, but in such a heinous crime, there's pretty much no chance. They'll actually get it. Actually 
Emily: [00:16:39] two people messaged us and they were sisters. And they're the reason I'm doing this case. Yes. Yes, you're right. Williams was taken into custody on Monday, February 8th, 2010, then just two months later.
He was forced to go into suicide watch after he tried to kill himself by wedging a stuffed cardboard toilet paper, roll down his throat. That is 
Liz: [00:17:02] an interesting method. 
Emily: [00:17:04] Always pisses me off. If you're going to take the lives of other people, you need to pay the consequences. You can't pussy out by trying to kill yourself.

Liz: [00:17:11] know drives me crazy. And also like at Jeffrey Epstein, 
Emily: [00:17:16] uh, I'm pretty sure he was murdered. 
Liz: [00:17:17] Yeah, let's talk about that in an episode. 
Emily: [00:17:21] After his conviction, he was stripped of rank of Colonel and his uniform was burned and his decorations were destroyed. Now. I think people can be stripped of their rank, however, burning someone's uniform.
Liz: [00:17:33] Never. Yeah. I can't say I've ever heard of that 
Emily: [00:17:35] before. No, this was a first because he did something so grotesque people truly didn't know and he was so high up. I think the Canadian Royal army was so 
Liz: [00:17:46] mortified. I was just going to say, yeah, that's an embarrassment for them. Of course. 
Emily: [00:17:51] Now in the wake of the criminal conviction, two multimillion dollar civil lawsuits were filed against him and his wife.
One was by the Jane DOE and the other by the family of Jessica Lloyd. They were settled with undisclosed financial payments in 2014, a third lawsuit was filed by Laurie mascot. And it targeted not only Williams and his wife, but also the Ontario police. And we highlight this earlier, but she accused them a failing to warn Tweed residents about the predator in their own town.
Right. Russell Williams has refused to do interviews to discuss his motivation for these disgusting crimes. However, he did tell police that he wasn't sure what triggered this behavior. But he said it began with an interest in stealing women's underwear in his twenties and thirties, but he never acted on it until the initial incident in 2007, which again is mind blowing to me that we usually cover these crimes and these people.
And there's usually an incident in their childhood that triggers it, or they're born with it for him to start feeling this way in his twenties and thirties. It just seems so crazy. 
Liz: [00:19:00] Yeah. With no. Trauma. It seems that has triggered it. 
Emily: [00:19:05] And the fact they didn't act on it for so long, but then he quickly escalated.
Liz: [00:19:10] It's so scary. So 
Emily: [00:19:13] scary also. I'm sorry. There's one thing that I forgot that I really need to bring up because it made me cry. So Jessica Lloyd, who has tortured for 19 hours, apparently her last words were, I want my mom to know. I love her. 
Liz: [00:19:30] Oh, my God. That is so heartbreaking. 
Emily: [00:19:33] That's why, I mean, obviously he's committed these horrendous acts.
He has no compassion, but to hear that and not care is 
Liz: [00:19:41] so sad. Also the irony that we started this episode with a story about both of our moms. That's true. We 
Emily: [00:19:49] were mommy girls, and I'll just end on this. It's not important, but I looked up the pictures of him wearing children's undergarments and. If, if you want look them up, they're really disturbing.
I send them to Lisbon. 
Liz: [00:20:05] So I don't mean to laugh, but it is so creepy and bizarre. 
Emily: [00:20:10] It is so weird. I mean, if you made it this far into the episode, then go look them up. You can handle it, but it's, it's going to give you nightmares. 
Liz: [00:20:18] It really is because when you Google him, it's like a picture of him in his uniform.
And then the next photo is like him and like lingerie. 
Emily: [00:20:26] And the worst part is he does the same exact pose and every single one. And 
they're 
Liz: [00:20:31] like a mirror selfies. It's so strange. Anyway, I go look at it yourself. We're not posting it on our Instagram. I 
Emily: [00:20:39] feel like we shouldn't cheers to that, but I do need to drink a little bit so quick.
Cheers. 
Liz: [00:20:45] Cheers.
Okay, we're back. So I'm going to tell you the story of the murder of Sherri Rasmussen, RAs mucin RAs mucin. I don't know. I believe it. Okay. My references include two different film, daily.co articles and one vanity fair article love vanity fair. It's 1986 and Sherry Rasmussen mucin was a 29 year old nurse living in a condo with her new husband, John Ruetten.
They were the perfect couple. John was charming and handsome. Sherry was tall and beautiful. She had a really successful nursing career and the two were just smitten with each other. 
Emily: [00:21:39] Okay. I'm worried where 
Liz: [00:21:41] this is going on. February 24th, John came home from work and he immediately noticed that something was wrong.
Sherri's BMW was missing and there were shards of glass on the ground, outside of their condo. When he entered into the home, John found his wife's brutally beaten body in their living room, which looked like it had been ransacked. Sherri had three gunshot wounds to her chest and several lacerations on her body.
Most notably a bite Mark on her left arm. Oh my God. John was understandably devastated. I mean, they've been married for three months. This is still the honeymoon period. Yeah. When LAPD arrived on the scene, they saw a bunch of electronics that were knocked over in the living room. Wires were hanging unplugged from the wall, not to mention the missing BMW.
So they were pretty quick to label this a robbery gone wrong. However, the only thing that was definitively stolen from the house was the couple's marriage license. What I know Sherry's jewelry box was completely out in the open and nothing had been stolen from it. Which is weird. I'll 
Emily: [00:22:48] repeat myself.
What 
Liz: [00:22:51] also the BMW was found abandoned a week later with the keys in the car. This doesn't make any sense. Now it's very confusing. So over the next few weeks, police interviewed John as well as other family members and friends, but they came up with no suspects. John was ruled out as he had no motive.
There were no life insurance policies. There were no financial problems. They seemed. To still be in a blissful newlywed state. Now, as I mentioned earlier, Sherry had three gunshot wounds and two out of the three of them were contact wounds, which means that after the first shot hit her, the next two were fired point blank directly against her body.
Like you held 
Emily: [00:23:31] the gun right next to someone's skin. Exactly. 
Liz: [00:23:36] One detective also took note of the bite Mark because usually women inflict those kinds of injuries. But most burglars are men, but they brushed us off because there are some instances of men budding their victims. Hello, Ted Bundy, detective Mayer, who was the lead investigator, told John that he believed burglars had entered their house sometime before 10:00 AM attempting to steal electronics.
But they didn't realize that Sherry was home. John questioned why they would hurt her. Why wouldn't they just run out of the house? Exactly. Maira said to him, quote. John things happen. Okay. Here's what I think happened. I think Sherry came down the stairs and I think she surprised them and she was hurt.
Okay. She was shot. Who said this? The lead investigator. What? A piece of shit. Isn't that like? So harsh things happen. All right. Yeah. And also, I don't know, do some more investigating that's your job. Sherry's parents pleaded with the police. To investigate someone else. John's ex-girlfriend a woman by the name of Stephanie Lazarus.
Oh my God. The parents didn't know too much about this woman, except that she was a lady cop. And just days before Sherri's murder, she had told her parents that she believed a female cop was stalking her. 
Emily: [00:24:52] Ooh, this is interesting because the detectives, this is one 
Liz: [00:24:55] of their own. Exactly. So Stephanie Lazarus was a decorated LAPD officer in the art theft department.
So naturally the police would not want to think that one of their own would be involved in such a crime. 
Emily: [00:25:09] I didn't know. There was an art theft department. Sorry, 
Liz: [00:25:11] moving on. I know, right? It's like how many, like I'm thinking of like major art, like heists. I like thought that was something in movies. Like someone's telling the modeling stuff.
Anyway, the lead investigator mayor basically ignored the rest nuisance request for Steffi's investigation. Also, John, the husband was like, yes, Stephanie is my ex-girlfriend. But no, I don't think she had any involvement in this. 
Emily: [00:25:38] I mean, murder is a big 
Liz: [00:25:40] accusation. Yeah. If you dated someone, you're probably like how?
No, there's no way. Yeah. So the police stuck with the burglary theory and the case went cold. In the following years, widow John remarried and started a family with his second wife. Also, Stephanie Lazarus went on to move up the ranks at the LAPD and she married a fellow police officer and adopted a child.
But despite Sherry's case being placed in a cold case file, her father Nells never let up. Yeah, dad, he put up a $10,000 reward for any information, and he kept calling the LAPD to ask if they had finally checked out this lady cop and they never did. So in 2001, LA police, chief Bernard parks created the cold case homicide unit to help comb through, um, all of the unsolved murder files.
And see if there was any DNA evidence that they might be able to test, because obviously there had been advancements in technology and DNA since the mid eighties. So three years after that unit is found, found it found it, found it criminalist, Jennifer Francis pulled out Sherry's case and began to sort through it.
Jennifer immediately thought something was off about Sherry's case file. It said that a swab had been taken of the bite Mark on Sherri's arm. But it wasn't listed as evidence. Apparently it had been misplaced bullshit. And, but where would it have gone? 
Emily: [00:27:12] Oh my God, the lady cop 
Liz: [00:27:13] took it. So knowing all of the steps in the chain of evidence, Jennifer made a bunch of phone calls, one to the coroner's office and she even searched the evidence freezer by hand and she found it.
Someone had, it seems just been lazy and didn't put the case file number on. Like, I dunno the bag or whatever it's in, it had Stephanie's name on it, but they filed the evidenced by numbers. So they need to put the number on it in order for it to like go down the chain of evidence. Yeah. So it had been sitting in this freezer for 18 years.
Oh, it's not wild. 
Emily: [00:27:51] I'd even realize 18 years had passed. That's crazy. That's been sitting there. You can't be lazy with evidence of murder crime. 
Liz: [00:27:59] Um, yeah. Of all the crimes, like be lazy with the art thieves. So Jennifer ran the DNA and she got no hits back. However, there was something interesting because she learned that the bite Mark had in fact been made by a woman.
Jennifer took this information back to the cold case unit, because if the attacker was a woman that sort of appended the entire theory and she thought the whole case should be reinvestigated. I love her. The detectives unfortunately disagreed. They said there were no female suspects in the file. So the evidence went back into storage where it stayed until February of 2009.
Now I just want to point out that all of the interviews were. Sherry's father asked them to investigate Stephanie, Stephanie Lazarus. Those were all conveniently missing. Oh 
Emily: [00:28:53] my God. I I'm so angry right now. 
Liz: [00:28:56] Okay. So fast forward to February, 2009, apparently murder cases in LA had fallen off in the last couple of years.
So homicide detectives were often given cold cases to look into detective Jim Nuttall was given the case of Sherri Rasmussen. And he saw the same thing that Jennifer Francis had seen. He looked at logic, right? The lead detective mayor had theorized that two burglars, both men committed the crime, but the DNA evidence showed that the killer was actually a woman.
And he was so intrigued by those that he brought it up to his supervisor and his supervisor assigned two more detectives to look into the case. Yes. They discovered that Sherry hadn't surprised the burglars downstairs as the theory had been. Sherry herself had been surprised upstairs. Two shots were fired at her upstairs and they both missed, but they shattered the glass door up there.
And this changed the narrative because now they know that whoever had come to the house on that day was intending on killing Sherry  
Emily: [00:29:59] was targeting her. 
Liz: [00:30:01] So Sherry had run down the stairs and she tried to reach some sort of security panel, but the killer got to her first. And a serious fight ensued.
Sherri was actually able to get ahold of her attacker at one point. And that's when the attacker bit her to get herself free. So the killer got free and hit Sherry in the head with a vase, which was enough to disorient her. And then the killer shot her three times. Oh my God. The detectives also looked at how the electronics had been stacked as if someone was about to take them, but didn't take them.
They decided this was a murder scene that had been staged to look like a burglary gone wrong, but what female would have wanted Sherry dead. Like they're looking through her file. They don't see anything. The only mention of any female person in the whole file really is one note that detective Mayer had written saying, quote, John Ruetten called verified.
Stephanie Lazarus PO was former girlfriend PO meaning police officer. So these detectives then ran her name and found out that she was an esteemed member of the LAPD art theft department. Then they went to visit John and confronted him with this information. And he said, look, you have all the information.
I don't think she had anything to do with it. Nobody believed that that Siri had any, you know, worth to it. The only person who thought that was Sherry's father. They also contact Shari's father and ask him about this theory. And he's understandably pissed off because he's been asking them for that two decades now to please look into this woman as a suspect.
And they never did 
Emily: [00:31:36] agreed, but don't be pissed off at these people because they're just coming across it and they want to 
Liz: [00:31:42] exactly, you know, he's pissed off at the LAPD in general. Yeah. Yeah. So now the detectives had to think, how would a cop go about committing a murder? 
Emily: [00:31:51] I don't know, just ask the officers that murdered Briana Taylor.
Liz: [00:31:54] Good one. So they think they wouldn't do it on duty and they look into it. And Stephanie had been off duty. The day that Sherry was murdered, they would also wait until the victim was alone. What she was murder weapon. They wouldn't use their duty gun because you'd want to ditch it after. But most cops have at least two guns, their work gun.
And then they're like a personal gun that they have. So they found out that Stephanie had purchased a 38 caliber Smith and Wesson right after she graduated from the Academy and they traced the serial number of that weapon. And it turns out that Stephanie had reported it missing in March of 1986. Just weeks after Sherri's murder.
No. So, I mean, this is all coming, you know, the pieces are falling into place here for these detectives. And they're really confused because all of this evidence was there from the get go. Why, why hadn't the first detective seen this and it, why did it seem like someone from inside the police department was trying to protect Stephanie Lazarus?
Now they had to run this theory up the chain of command because there's obviously lots of red tape that goes along with investigating a police officer as. We would know from watching so much law and order, of course, we know you got to get internal affairs involved. 
Emily: [00:33:14] We pretty much know everything when it 
Liz: [00:33:16] comes to this sort of stuff, but now they need a DNA.
So a special ops team followed Stephanie on a trip that she took with her adopted daughter. And they retrieved a cup that she drank from. Yes, two days later, lab results confirmed that Stephanie Lazarus was the person who bid Sherri Rasmussen. I'm silently dancing. Yeah, I'm just doing like a victory dance over there.
The detectives now constructed a plan to corner. Stephanie. They tricked her into thinking that they needed her help with a consultation in one of their investigations and she's super eager to help out. So they bring her down to this room where officers had to check their weapons before entering. And they did this on purpose just in case anything went ARIDE during the investigation.
So they told her. Once you got down to the room that they were reinvestigating Sherri's death. And they asked her, did you know her? Did you know anything about this, blah, blah, blah. She denied knowing her or anything about the case, except that she knew that she had been murdered. They eventually get her to admit that she, yes, I sort of knew her.
Maybe I met her a few times. They then bring up some instances where Stephanie had actually showed up to Sherri and John's house. And one instance where she showed up at Sherry's hospital, where she worked. This bitch is crazy. She eventually admits that they had fought once or twice, but says quote. I mean, I'm shocked.
I'm really shocked that someone would be saying that I did this. We had a fight. So I went and killed her. I mean, come on. Oh, my 
Emily: [00:34:46] God, dig yourself in a deeper hole. 
Liz: [00:34:48] So then she stood up and left the room because she was like, this is bullshit. I'm free to go. She left the room and then she was immediately arrested.
Yes. And on March 12th, 2012, Stephanie Lazarus was convicted of murder and sentenced to 27 years. Now I personally feel like 27 is not long enough. No, but whatever the rest mucins sued, Stephanie. As well as the LAPD for the mishandling of the investigation, I don't think they ended up winning that because no, I think they did look into it and there was no solid evidence that, that there was any sort of cover up.
But I just think coverups on coverups and the 
Emily: [00:35:29] said, this is the woman who killed my daughter exactly. 20 years prior. Nobody 
Liz: [00:35:35] looked into it the day it happened. He was asking them to look into her and they didn't and took 20. Plus years went by. 
Emily: [00:35:44] Do you have any quote or anything about the husband, how he felt when he 
Liz: [00:35:48] realized no, there's like nothing about that.
Emily: [00:35:50] Wow. So what is her motive? She was just 
Liz: [00:35:53] jealous. Love triangle. Oh, I do have one interesting bit. Yes. So at some point between the murder and the arrest, Stephanie and John actually kind of rekindle things for a minute. Holy shit. They go on a trip to Hawaii together. 
Emily: [00:36:11] That's not a rekindle. That's like full blown.
You guys are dating. 
Liz: [00:36:14] I know. And I guess what I read at least was that John called the LAPD to just double check that they had looked into Stephanie and that she had nothing to do with the murder. But I mean, dude, if you have to ask, if this woman was involved in your dead wife's murder, like don't go on vacation with her.
Emily: [00:36:34] You have to call to make sure someone's cleared of murder, don't be alone 
Liz: [00:36:38] with them. And so they went on this trip to Hawaii. I mean, obviously they both ended up with separate people, but something weird was going on there, 
Emily: [00:36:46] but I still don't understand. They broke up and she just continued to be jealous.
I think so 
Liz: [00:36:51] some sort of weird. Lover's triangle, honey. Never kill someone over a man. I'm sure there's probably conspiracy theories out there. I just didn't look into them, but by all means, if you're that interested, go for it. Wow. Anyway, I'm just so happy that the fi that the family finally got closure.
Yeah. Oh, those 
Emily: [00:37:13] poor parents. I 
Liz: [00:37:15] also want to punch detective Mary in the face. He's 
Emily: [00:37:18] going to still have his job and keep 
Liz: [00:37:20] working and retired. No, he retired. He's got his pension and everything. So 
Emily: [00:37:24] yeah, I'm not saying all cops are dirty. I'm saying I hate when you protect a dirty cop. Exactly. 
Liz: [00:37:30] I agree. Anyway, that is my story.
Emily: [00:37:33] Wow. And I always ask, but how did you find this? 
Liz: [00:37:37] Um, I was looking up online, like lesser known, true crime stories. And I found some blog and there were a lot of interesting ones. And this one I found to be had the most information. Well, you 
Emily: [00:37:48] did an 
Liz: [00:37:49] awesome job. I love it. Thank you. Well, but you guys, sometimes I struggled to come up with stories.
So please send us recommendations. If you have anything you want us to look into, we 
Emily: [00:37:58] do them. 
Liz: [00:37:58] We listen to you guys. We do 
Emily: [00:38:01] now we'll end it with saying, follow us on Instagram. We're really funny on social media. 
Liz: [00:38:06] We beg you every week, but I don't know if maybe you stop listening and you don't hear us, but please, please give us a rating on Apple podcasts.
It would mean so much to us. All right. 
Emily: [00:38:19] We love you guys. We love you. .