Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Fifth Stage - Senior Film Project by Mollie Goldberg

Jayne Goldberg (left), Sherri Rae Rasmussen
at Club Med, early 1980's.

Sherri Rae Rasmussen was murdered on February 24, 1986. Her murder was finally solved 23 years later with the arrest of LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus. Lazarus was convicted of first degree murder in March 2012 and sentenced to 27 years to life.

Sherri was Jayne Goldberg's best friend. They met at UCLA Medical Center, when they were both working as nurses there. They were roommates in Sherri's condo for three years. Jayne met her future husband, Michael Goldberg at the hospital.

Jayne and Michael's daughter is Mollie Goldberg. At the oral arguments for Lazarus' criminal appeal, Jayne told me that her daughter Mollie was graduating that weekend with a degree in Film & Digital Media. For her senior project, Mollie produced a short film titled The Fifth Stage. Jayne indicated to me the film was about the myth of closure.

The Fifth Stage
The Fifth Stage is in reference to the five stages of normal grief that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlined in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. The five stages are:

1. Denial and Isolation
2. Anger
3. Barganing
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

You can read a short synopsis about the five stages at

In the film, Mollie interviews her mother and Nels and Loretta Rasmussen.

Here is Mollie's introduction to her film:
 This is my senior thesis film. For those of you who don't know already, my mom's best friend, Sherri, was murdered in 1986. The case went cold until I was 16 and my mom got a call from an LAPD detective saying they were reopening the case. As I learned more about Sherri, I noticed we shared a middle name, and as the years progressed and her murderer (an LAPD cop) was tried, convicted, and sentenced, I learned more fully what it means to grieve, to feel pain, and to lose someone. And how a person can have such an irreplaceable position in the history of your existence, without you ever knowing them. This film was a way for me to understand the grief my mom and Sherri's parents have felt every day for the last 30 years. Through meditations on certain imagery and reenactments of their memories of grief, I try to place myself within the scope of their loss.
The Fifth Stage from Mollie Goldberg on Vimeo.