Retired Detective Found Guilty in Cold Case Murder of Rival

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By Stan Wilson and Michael Martinez, CNN

A Los Angeles County jury found a retired police detective guilty of first-degree murder Thursday in the 1986 death of an alleged romantic rival who married the detective’s college sweetheart.

Stephanie Ilene Lazarus, now 51 and retired after rising through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department, was accused of beating, biting and shooting to death Sherri Rasmussen, 29, in her townhouse in the suburban San Fernando Valley.

Lazarus was charged with staging the crime scene to look like a burglary gone bad. Rasmussen, a hospital nursing supervisor, was the new bride of John Ruetten, who had been Lazarus’ college sweetheart.

In their investigation of an officer within their own ranks, Los Angeles detectives solved the 23-year-old cold case after DNA testing revealed a bite mark on the murder victim’s left forearm came from Lazarus, authorities said.