Jun 10, 2009

Stephanie Lazarus' DNA

The label "cop killer" usually denotes people who kill police officers. In a strange twist, the label may also fit LA police detective Stephanie Lazarus. Lazarus is charged with murdering Sherri Rasmussen in 1986.  Lazarus was a cop in uniform at the time she allegedly killed Sherri in a jealous rage because Sherri married Lazarus' ex-boyfriend.

The detectives assigned to investigate Sherri's murder ignored all the evidence suggesting that Lazarus was the killer.  Lazarus was not arrested until 2009, after new "cold case" detectives used DNA to link Lazarus to the murder.

To obtain a sample of Lazarus' saliva, an LAPD cop secretly followed Lazarus to a convenience store and took a plastic utensil that Lazarus had just used from a trash bin.  (Police work can be so glamorous!)  But here's my question: Shouldn't it be standard procedure for police agencies to have DNA profiles for all police officers in their files?  Once the cold case detectives realized that Lazarus was a suspect in Sherri's killing, they should have been able to search their files rather than a convenience store's trash to obtain Lazarus' DNA.

A secondary question concerns the retirement benefits currently being collected by the inept detectives who ignored the clues pointing to Lazarus as the killer.  Can these detectives be demoted retroactively?  They decided that Sherri's killer was a burglar, even though all that was missing from Sherri's home was her marriage license and her car.  How awful for Sherri's relatives to know that Sherri's killer remained free only because LAPD detectives didn't care enough to look for her.