Complete Series on Fact Checking Mark Bowden's Article HERE.
UPDATE: 10/17: spelling of Murrow
UPDATE: October 17th, 2012: VANITY FAIR CORRECTS MORE ERRORS IN MARK BOWDEN'S ARTICLE
Vanity Fair quietly added numerous corrections to the online version of Mark Bowden's article.
UPDATE 10/2/2012 Correct VF November 2007, to September 2007
A few developments to tell T&T readers. Last Friday, Craig Silverman of Poynter.org, a journalism watchdog site published a story about this five part series. Today, someone at Advance Publications, the parent company of Vanity Fair, visited T&T again from a link on Silverman's story. They also hit the Stephanie Lazarus Quick Links page and searched T&T for the words "Vanity Fair."
T&T's StatCounter® Page
Here's a little known fact that my long-time readers might remember. If you search Vanity Fair's website for the words "Betsy Ross," you will find that the late writer Dominck Dunne mentioned me in his story Cheating on Phil With Paris that appeared in Vanity Fair's September 2007 issue.
Today, Advance Publications, the parent company of Vanity Fair revisited T&T several times via a link on Mark Bowden's Wikipedia page.
Screen shot of T&T Stat Counter Page
Originally Published September 20th, 2012
Back in June, when I first wrote about Mark Bowden’s article on the Stephanie Lazarus case in the July issue of Vanity Fair, I never thought I’d still be writing about it. But three months and many posts later, here we are. As legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow once said: "The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer."
Late last week, I noticed that Vanity Fair quietly posted some corrections to the online version of Bowden’s article. To find the corrections, you must click through to the seventh page and scroll down to the very bottom. Here is what they corrected:
An earlier version of this story misidentified Sherri Rasmussen's alma mater. It is Loma Linda University, not U.C.L.A. The date on which Stephanie Lazarus was mentioned in the case file is November 19, 1987, not November 19, 1986. A cup and straw introduced into evidence were used outside Costco, and not inside, and the DNA from the sample was identified two days later, not three days later.I applaud Vanity Fair for correcting a few of the factual errors that I pointed out back in June. But what about the other ones?
Oddly, Vanity Fair did not to correct what might be Bowden’s most egregious misstatement of fact, that John Ruetten and Stephanie’s relationship ended in Hawaii in 1989. (Page 146: “Their relationship did not outlast the vacation.”)
Actually, as John testified over two days in February 2012, he and Stephanie reconnected in Los Angeles in the early 1990s and were sexually intimate at least twice. It’s hard to imagine how Bowden and Vanity Fair’s fact checkers missed this. John’s testimony was extensively covered by the media. The Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, The Criminal Report Daily, and other news outlets reported it. It was heart wrenching to watch John admit, in front of Sherri Rasmussen’s family and dozens of strangers, that he had sex with Stephanie during his engagement and after the Hawaii trip. Given that Bowden's article was published in the July issue of Vanity Fair, more than three months after Ruetten testified, how did Bowden get this wrong? How can his editors defend not correcting it?
There are at least four other significant errors that Vanity Fair has not corrected:
Page 124: "Before they entered the holding area, as a matter of routine, they checked their weapons." Stephanie Lazarus left her weapon at her desk and was unarmed when she entered the jail (which by the way was on the second floor of Parker Center, and not in the "building's basement jail facility," as Bowden described it).
Page 126: "The saliva swab showed that whoever had bitten Sherri's left forearm had a different blood type from hers." The bite mark swab, which was the crucial evidence in the case, was never tested for blood type in 1986. It wasn’t tested at all until 2004, when it was tested for DNA, not blood type.
Page 148: "What did 'PO' mean? When they guessed 'police officer,' they ran the name through the department directory and came up with their esteemed colleague in the art-theft division." Van Nuys Homicide detectives never "guessed" Stephanie Lazarus was an LAPD officer. They were told that fact by John Ruetten.
Page 148: Mark Bowden asserts in his article:
Whoever had come looking for Sherri had come to kill her. Sherri had apparently run downstairs, trying to reach the panic button on the security panel. The killer pursued, and stopped her before she got there. They fought savagely. Sherri apparently managed to briefly wrest her assailant’s gun away and place her in a headlock. The killer then bit Sherri’s forearm to break free, and picked up the heavy gray ceramic vase from the living-room shelf and crashed it hard into her forehead. The blow was enough to daze Sherri, if not knock her to the floor. The killer then retrieved the gun and fired the first shot that hit Sherri. It went clean through Sherri’s chest. She began bleeding internally and would have had only minutes to live. She was down now for good. Using the blanket to muffle the sound, the killer then fired two more rounds into her chest, finishing the job.There was no evidence presented at trial about Stephanie Lazarus's state of mind the morning she killed Sherri Rasmussen, or that she went to Sherri's home with the specific intent to kill her. Former FBI profiler and crime scene analyst Mark Safarik testified during the trial that it is impossible to know for certain the exact sequence of events that transpired when Sherri Rasmussen was killed.
How does Mark Bowden know Stephanie Lazarus's state of mind the morning of the murder? How did he reach his conclusions?
Continued in Part VI.........