Detective charged: A veteran Los Angeles police detective has been charged with murdering her rival in a love triangle—23 years after the killing. Police arrested Stephanie Lazarus, 49, after her DNA was determined to match DNA found on the body of Sherri Rae Rasmussen, who was beaten and shot to death in her Van Nuys, Calif., home in 1986. Lazarus was an early suspect in the murder, but police dismissed pleas by Rasmussen’s family to investigate her further. Before the killing, Lazarus had confronted Rasmussen several times over her involvement with John Ruetten, whom Rasmussen had married three months before her death. The case had lain dormant until last year, when Los Angeles police retested physical evidence from thousands of unsolved murder cases.
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Slain doctor’s clinic closed: The clinic where murdered abortion doctor George Tiller performed late-term procedures will close for good, his family said this week. Women’s Health Care Services, which was a regular target of protests by anti-abortion activists, was one of only a handful of U.S. clinics that offered abortions to women in their third trimester. Tiller’s accused killer, Scott Roeder, said in a jailhouse interview this week that the clinic’s closing was “a victory for all the unborn children,” though he declined to discuss the case. Federal authorities joined the investigation and said they were looking to determine if Roeder, who was associated with militant anti-abortion and anti-government groups, had any accomplices. Tiller was shot to death last week while serving as an usher in his Wichita church.
Palin is hailed: After first declining an invitation to attend, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin stole the show at a fundraising dinner for Republican congressional candidates this week. The former vice presidential candidate received a prolonged ovation and was mobbed by party faithful when she entered the hall. The scene climaxed tortuous negotiations between Palin’s camp and Republican Party officials over her attendance. Palin had asked to give a speech, a suggestion nixed by officials concerned that she would upstage the keynote speaker, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. In a last-minute deal brokered by Texas Sen. John Cornyn, Palin and Gingrich entered the hall together, but Palin did not speak. Both Palin and Gingrich are considered early front-runners for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Holocaust museum horror: An elderly white supremacist this week opened fire in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., killing a security guard and sending tourists scrambling. The alleged gunman, James von Brunn, 88, was shot by a security guard and rushed to a Washington hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. In 1981, von Brunn entered the Federal Reserve Building carrying a sawed-off shotgun and threatened to take members of the Fed hostage. He was convicted of attempted kidnapping and served six years of an 11-year sentence. A regular on right-wing websites, von Brunn expressed admiration for Hitler and hatred of Jews. Before November’s election, his Internet post that cast doubt on President Obama’s U.S. citizenship was circulated widely on conservative and extremist websites.
Deadly factory explosion: Three people were killed and at least 20 injured this week in an explosion at a meat-processing plant. The explosion ripped through a 50,000-square-foot ConAgra factory outside Raleigh where Slim Jim products are made, causing sections of the roof to collapse, touching off fires, and rupturing tanks of ammonia, whose deadly fumes slowed firefighters. More than 300 people were in the plant when the explosion occurred. “The ceiling started coming down, and we all started running,” said plant worker Gail Ruffin. “Everyone was trying to get to the exit.” The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.
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Terrorist on U.S. soil: The first Guantánamo Bay prisoner to face trial in the U.S. arrived in New York this week, escorted by federal marshals to a cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Ahmed Ghailani, a Tanzanian, was arrested in Pakistan in 2004 and transferred to the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo two years later. He faces 286 counts of conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other al Qaida members to kill Americans, and 224 counts of murder for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. He has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors say Ghailani began his terrorist career delivering bomb parts, eventually rising to become bin Laden’s bodyguard. U.S. prisons currently hold 216 inmates with some connection to international terrorism.
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