LOS ANGELES (AP) – A veteran police detective was arrested Friday on suspicion of murdering her ex-boyfriend’s wife nearly a quarter-century ago – a killing police originally blamed on robbers.

Stephanie Lazarus, 49, was placed in custody at police headquarters after a recent sample of her saliva was found to match the killer’s DNA, police said.

Lazarus, who joined the force in 1983, is accused of killing Sherri Rae Rasmussen, director of critical care nursing at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. Her husband found her beaten and shot to death on Feb. 24, 1986, in the living room of their Van Nuys condominium.

“It’s very bittersweet,” police Deputy Chief Charlie Beck, who oversees the detective bureau, told the Los Angeles Times. “Our goal is to always bring people to justice, but this is somebody we know.”

Lazarus was being held without bail at the Los Angeles County jail.

She was mentioned in the original case file because she had a relationship with Rasmussen’s husband, John Ruetten, Beck said. However, she was not pursued as a suspect because investigators believed Rasmussen was a victim of armed robbers.

No suspects were found and the case went cold for years, until last week when undercover officers followed Lazarus and obtained a sample of her saliva to compare with DNA left at the scene, Beck said.

Since 2006, Lazarus has worked in a unit that tracks stolen art, according to police records.


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