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The Lazarus Files: A Cold Case Investigation

The Los Angeles Visionaries Association, Esotouric and Dr. Jay Vargas invite you to the Cal State Los Angeles teaching crime lab for an afternoon’s inquiry into the history and practice of forensic science in Southern California, in support of new research coming out of the Criminalistics Department.

For “The Lazarus Files: A Cold Case Investigation” based on the acclaimed book of the same name (Henry Holt and Co., 2019), we’ll take a deep dive into one of the most shocking crimes in recent Los Angeles history, revealed through DNA evidence to have been perpetrated by one of the LAPD‘s own detectives more than 25 years ago.

In this never-before-presented program focusing on the forensic science that resulted in Stephanie Lazarus’ conviction for a cold case homicide, author Matthew McGough and cold case Criminalist Doreen Hudson reveal the delicate web of lies that was finally broken through cutting edge forensic tools.

“The Lazarus Files: A Cold Case Investigation” is 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?

With illuminating demonstrations in the teaching crime lab and the opportunities for lively Q&A that these seminars are known for, you’ll end the afternoon with a deeper understanding of cold case investigations, DNA science and the hidden culture of the LAPD.

To learn more, and hear interviews with Matthew McGough about the book, visit


ABOUT MATTHEW MCGOUGH: Matthew McGough’s nonfiction writing has been published in 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. His new book, “The Lazarus Files: A Cold Case Investigation,” was released in April. Formerly a legal consultant and writer for NBC’s “Law & Order,” he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and children.

ABOUT DOREEN HUDSON: In 1986, when she worked on the Rasmussen case, Doreen Hudson was a Criminalist II in the Trace and Field Unit of the Criminalistics Laboratory, SID. In 2017, when she retired from the LAPD, she was the Commanding Officer of the Forensic Science Division (formerly SID).