Husband John Ruetten of Sherri Rasmussen was unaware of the challenges that 1986 would bring. When Ruetten got home from work on February 24, 1986, he expected to find his wife at home since she had phoned in sick. Instead, he discovered his wife’s corpse on the living room floor, much to his horror. The terrible killing is still being discussed today. Evidence at the scene pointed to a burglary gone wrong, but some who knew the couple well-suspected something was wrong.
After being closed for lack of evidence, the investigation was reopened by cold case investigators over twenty years later when they discovered fresh information about the victim. John’s ex-girlfriend and on-and-off sexual partner, LAPD detective Stephanie Lazarus, became the prime suspect. The savage murder of Rasmussen and why Lazarus was found guilty and given a sentence of 27 years to life will be the subject of NBC’s Dateline on Saturday, May 28.
What happened with Sherri Rasmussen?
John Ruetten, a graduate of UCLA, began dating Sherri Rasmussen, director of Adventist Medical Center, in 1984. The couple wed the following year. The next year, Sherri was viciously killed in her own home. And John’s ex-girlfriend, the famous LAPD officer Stephanie Lazarus, became resentful of his new relationship. At first, she harassed and intimidated Sherri at her home and her place of employment. After much tension, Lazarus decided to take his anger out by killing Sherri.
After 23 years, in 2009, evidence emerged proving Lazarus had killed Sherri out of fury. In the years after Sherri’s murder was solved, Stephanie advanced in her career as a police officer. In 2009, however, when her name was discovered in the case files, she was questioned since there was more than enough evidence to arrest her. Rutten’s testimony also included details on his on-and-off sexual relationship with the LAPD detective, which provided more evidence of jealousy between the two parties. In 2012, a jury convicted Stephanie guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Sherri Rasmussen.
What happened to John Ruetten, Sherri Rasmussen’s husband?
The jury convicted Stephanie guilty of first-degree murder, and was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison at the California Institution for Women in Corona. John Ruetten reportedly stayed in contact with Stephanie following his wife’s death, even though he never suspected Stephanie of being the killer. So devastated by Sherri’s death, John quit his job and fled Los Angeles.
Upon his return, though, he ran into Stephanie and, once again, found himself in her bed. Images from John and Sherri’s wedding were shown at trial so that he could verify their identities. To my knowledge, Stephanie never once glanced upward throughout that period. John cried on the witness stand as he described his relationship with Sherri and Stephanie.
What’s more, he was concerned by the knowledge that a person he knew had killed Sherri. He expressed his deepest sympathies to the Rasmussens. After his first wife’s unfortunate and premature death, John Ruetten reportedly remarried. On May 28, 2022, at 9:00 PM ET, NBC’s Dateline will include more on the cold case murder that was solved after 23 years.