June 10th, 2009
10:15 PM ET

Interview with a murder suspect

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear Dan Simon's full report on Detective Lazarus on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/11/art.crime.lazarus.jpg caption="Stephanie Lazarus in a 2007 interview. Lazarus was arrested last week on suspicion of killing a former lover's wife in 1986"]

David de Sola
CNN Washington

Two years ago, I was working on a package about art theft that I had pitched for a graduate broadcast reporting class at the University of Southern California. I knew the Los Angeles Police Department had the only law enforcement unit in the United States dedicated specifically to art theft crimes. Detective Stephanie Lazarus was one of the two members of this unit. She had done many interviews on the subject and so I requested one with her for this project.

We agreed to do the interview at Parker Center – LAPD headquarters – where she worked. I arrived late due to traffic delays. Detective Lazarus seemed a bit annoyed about my tardiness at first, and as I recall she teased me about my choice of school, noting that if I had gone to UCLA – USC's crosstown rival and her alma mater – I might have made it on time. Obviously, I had no idea about the murder allegations at the time. Despite my logistical troubles, she was a good interview – very patient, well-informed, comfortable in front of the camera, good-humored and extremely thorough in answering my questions.

We finished the interview, I went on my way and filed the project about a week later. As far as I was concerned, this interview would never see the light of day beyond the bite I used for the finished project when I presented it in class, and forgot all about it until this morning when I heard about Detective Lazarus's arrest for murder for the first time. I was shocked. She was very nice, I never got any impressions from her hinting that she might be capable of anger to the point of possibly committing an act of violence. I dug up the tape, watched and transcribed it, and passed it on to CNN correspondent Dan Simon and his colleagues who were filing a package on this story for tonight's show.

As for the assignment, I got an A -. I also discussed Detective Lazarus's arrest with David Dow, my former professor for whom I submitted this project. His response: "Wow. You never know when you're standing next to history - albeit crime history."

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Orwell

    I had a similar experience with Det. Lazarus a few days before her arrest.

    At the time, I was a fraud investigator for an internet company and was pursuing someone in her area who had committed several high dollar online crimes. I called and spoke with Stephanie several times for almost an hour about my suspect, case details, and my need for the LAPD's assistance. She was sharp, attentive, dedicated, and direct. She was exactly the type of detective that you dream of working with and a breath of fresh air when compared to the majority of those with "more important things to do." I prepared a CD with all my case details and mailed it to her the next morning with high hopes of actually finding justice. It would have been a win/win for both.

    Although I wish my suspect had been arrested (no one else would take the case) I am glad justice may be coming to a family who lost a daughter. Their's has been a long time coming.

    As for Det. Lazerus, if she's innocent, I wish for her the best legal defense. If she is guilty, I wish for the best legal prosecution and longest sentence.

    June 21, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  2. karen

    If she's guilty, prosecute her as you would any other murderer.
    what a shame..The cops that went bad could really help other or rookies not make the same mistakes...Then again, there is good verses evil in all walks of life....

    June 12, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  3. Jane LeMond-Alvarez

    "they protect their own"....I retired from California Oxnard Police Department and I can tell you without a doubt, that my department shunned the cop that went bad. The investigations were thorough and the cop turned bad went to jail/prison. As their Crime Analyst, I tried to bring some cops that went bad (after they did their time in jail) to our briefings so that they could tell why they went bad....bad move on my part. The cops would not even attend the briefings.

    June 11, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  4. ur granny

    she commited this crime "under color of authority," what was she thinking? what a waste! she has no credibility! it's difficult to become a police officer....then she throws it all away.....oh! well! lock her up! if she did it.

    June 11, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  5. Suzanne

    Law enforcement do not protect their own, otherwise Lazarus and other corrupted cops would never have been arrested and prosecuted. Funny how there are so many cop haters but yet when in time of need, those are dialing 911 for help.

    June 11, 2009 at 5:38 pm |
  6. Naida

    America's finest ...yeah right !!! They are criminals too !!! Lock THEM UP and throw away the key

    June 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  7. Joni

    Above the law???

    June 11, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  8. Terry, TX

    "They protect their own"....please. If she did it....punishment to the full extent of the law....end of subject.....enough with the left bashing law enforcement.

    June 11, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  9. Christina *L.A. California*

    In a jealous rage women/men are capeable of anything!

    June 11, 2009 at 3:27 pm |
  10. Lisa

    Hmm, I wonder what else Detective Lazarus has done. Does anyone else?

    June 11, 2009 at 7:40 am |
  11. JRQ

    They protect their own.

    June 10, 2009 at 11:18 pm |

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