Friday, February 24, 2023

Sherri Rae Rassmussen 2/7/1957 - 2/24/1986

Note: I'm late getting this up. I had my cancer treatment today. I've received three doses of PADCEV so far.  2/24/23 9:00pm

This entry was first published on February 24, 2016. Republished on the anniversary of Sherri's death. Sherri was murdered 37 years ago today. Sprocket.

Sherri Rae Rasmussen, date unknown
Photo copyright: Jane Goldberg; all rights reserved.

Matthew McGough is writing a book about Sherri's life and murder.
(Sprocket Note: Matthew's book was published in 2019)

Sherri Rasmussen was an exceptional person.

Over the last several years I have interviewed many of Sherri’s family members, friends, and colleagues. Thirty years after Sherri’s tragic death, her absence continues to reverberate in their lives.

Sherri’s life was remarkable for how much she accomplished in her twenty-nine years, and for how humble she was. Sherri was a high achiever from the time she was a little girl. Sherri graduated from high school at age sixteen, college at twenty, and became a nurse the same year. At twenty-three, she earned her master’s degree in nursing from UCLA.

Despite being younger than many of her nursing colleagues, first at UCLA Medical Center and later at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Sherri’s personal nature commanded trust and respect. Those who worked with Sherri remember her as an extremely competent nurse, always calm under pressure, and a natural leader. Sherri cared deeply about her patients and about the profession of nursing, to which she dedicated her adult life.

Sherri loved her family and friends and was beloved by them. Many people have told me about the profound impact Sherri had on their lives, how she encouraged them to do their best, and how her example continues to inspire them, even all these years later.

Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives.” By this measure, it makes perfect sense that Sherri is remembered so fondly by so many.


jdv111062 said...

I've been aware of this case for years and decided to try and do a deep dive recently, after re-viewing one of the many true crime show episodes covering it. I was very happy to come across your blog and read all of the posts and comments over the course of a few days. I agree wholeheartedly with those who commented that your writing brought them right into the court room.

I was very interested to know what happened with the civil case filed by the Rasmussens against Lazarus. This was mentioned in a few of your posts, but I didn't see anything about the outcome. I was pleased to be able to find out that the Rasmussens obtained a $10 million judgment against Lazarus and that this was upheld on appeal. Perhaps you could add a post on this.

I was sorry to read about your recent health struggles. I hope and pray that you recover fully. Thanks for all of your good work.

M. Stein said...

Sherri has now been dead for almost 8 years longer than she lived. By this time, she may have even had grandchildren. Her parents are both gone as well. What a lovely person she seemed to have been.

A few weeks ago I came across the recent Dateline episode, which appeared in 2020. Keeping in mind that programmes such as these go through heavy editing, it seems to me that the Rasmussen family has not forgiven John Ruetten for his behaviour and that there lingers a sense of betrayal still. This somewhat surprised me, but it's impossible to know what may have ended up on the cutting room floor.
I really feel for John - along with the grief he has dealt with unending guilt and I do believe the Rasmussens were quite harsh with him in their public comments. Jayne Goldberg was also well aware of Stephanie's hospital visit - why did she not contact the police with her concerns and instead wait for them to show up 23 years down the line.

To this day, the intriguing question for me has to do with Stephanie's intent on that morning and if she even realized Sherri was at home. Had she been in the habit of entering their empty condo to snoop and was caught in the act on this occasion? Why would she take the chance of an alarm going off? It's all just so bizarre to me.

Peace to all.

Sprocket said...

M Stein: This is complicated.
Have you read Matthew McGough's book on the case, The Lazarus Files? If not, I highly recommend it. Matthew is the expert on the case, not me. He did EXTENSIVE research and interviewed dozens and dozens of people for the book. His dive into the dynamics of the Rutten-Rasmussen families inner-relationships will help explain this. I personally think John was intimidated by Nels, all through his courtship and marriage to Sherri.

I was in the courtroom when John Ruetten testified. His testimony on the stand and his victim impact statement brought me to tears. I truly felt for John. He sat behind me in the courtroom and I could hear him weep through some testimony. I believe he was truly devastated by Sherri's death and the memories of it were still painful to him 23 years later.

Understand, that it is my understanding that according to Sherri's parents, they asked John to sit down and talk to them about what happened. He promised to do so, but never did. Immediately after the murder, John did not call Sherri's parents about her death. It was *John's father* who called them and notified them almost **six hours** after John discovered Sherri dead. That's documented in Matthew's book. Sherri's father Nels demanded to speak to John on the phone at that time. John's father said John was too distraught to speak. Soon after, John was wisked away to San Diego to deal with the trauma. Basically John's parents shielded him from any questions the Rasmussen family had about the death of their daughter. It took John almost a year to recover. There were other opportunities, after Lazarus was arrested, but John never did sit down with Nels and Loretta to answer their questions.

Jayne Goldberg. I know Jayne personally. I would refer you to Matthew's book on this issue.

I don't think Stephanie knew Sherri was home that day. Matthew's book documents an earlier time event that Sherri caught Stephanie in her living room snooping and (*IF* I remember correctly) she told John about it. The book documents when the alarm was installed and why it might have been off.

Hope this helps.

jdv: The case was settled in January 2018. At that time, I was going through a very difficult journey with my ex-husband who was breaking down mentally and I was asking for a divorce. I only posted 19 stories in all of 2018. Unfortunately, the civil case was not a priority for me at the time. I was concentrating on covering other murder trials. I believed after I got divorced, I would not be able to cover cases because I had to find work to support myself.