A 1991 murder in Albuquerque was as cold as a cold case can get until earlier this year, when Lawrence Scherer copped to the crime. But investigators let him go -- and by the time they decided they wanted him back, he'd apparently changed his mind about that whole confession-is-good-for-the-soul thing. So how'd he wind up being extradited from Colorado to face charges in the slaying?
The strange tale is told by Albuquerque's KBQE-TV. In its initial report, the station revealed that Scherer, who's 52, had been indicted for murder and jailed on a $1 million bond. But because the case had been sealed, reporters didn't know any of the details beyond court records saying his arrest had something to do with an incident that took place on August 22.
A recent slaying? Not exactly. As the station revealed in a followup, the murder in question took place on an August 22 more than two decades ago. On that date in 1991, the body of a man named Roger Alderman was discovered in his townhouse -- but while an extensive investigation took place, no arrests were made in the case.
Then, in May, Scherer, who the station describes as homeless (before his arrest, anyhow), called 911 in Santa Fe and told dispatchers that he had killed Alderman and wanted to come clean.
Rather than simply taking Scherer's word for this announcement, detectives in Santa Fe got in touch with their colleagues in Albuquerque. The latter looked up the particulars of the Alderman slaying and discovered that Scherer had indeed been a suspect in the homicide; the material on file included DNA evidence, plus written and video statements. However, prosecutors at the time apparently thought the material wasn't strong enough to justify charging him.
This time around, Scherer was more forthcoming. According to the police version, Scherer said Alderman had made unwanted sexual advances, to which he'd responded by stabbing him to death.
Problem is, Scherer's words weren't enough.
Continue to read more about the arrest of Lawrence Scherer and see videos about the case. Investigators needed proof to back up these claims. So they let him go after arranging for him to stop by for another chat later in the month. But Scherer, who is said to have been surprised about being cut loose ("At least I get this off my chest," a court record quotes him as saying), didn't return as promised. And that became an even bigger problem when officers concluded that he had indeed killed Alderman.
In response, New Mexico police put out a national missing persons bulletin in Scherer's name -- and last month, they got a hit. Scherer was picked up in Pueblo on a completely unrelated matter, and when the arresting officer ran his name, guess what popped up.
Problem solved? Not quite. Now, the station reports, Scherer denies that he confessed to killing Alderman, or even that he was in Santa Fe during May.
Sounds like he's got a case of confessor's remorse. Look below to see two KBQE packages -- the first when little was known about the arrest, and its more detailed sequel. That's followed by a larger look at his booking photo.
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More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Photos: Top twenty most wanted fugitives in Larimer County."