‘Lost Hills’ pulls back Malibu’s facade, exposing murder, corruption, and cover-ups

True Crime December 13, 2021
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Listen to ‘Lost Hills’

Beneath the glamorous, luxurious facade of Malibu, California, the city of millionaires and billionaires hides a dark underbelly of cover-ups, mysteries, and murder. “Lost Hills” is telling the stories of those who have been lost to the dark side of the hills. Its newly released second season will be looking at the mysterious drowning of a Malibu woman and her son and the husband who was arrested for their murders. But many say, including the victim’s family, that he is innocent.

This brand new second season of “Lost Hills” has already dropped its first two episodes, each around 40-minutes long. As a serialized podcast, it is necessary to listen to episodes in order, but you don’t need to listen to the seasons in order.

From the ’70s to the ’80s, Malibu was transforming from a conspicuous beach town an hour north of Hollywood to a celebrity haven, riddled with new money and hard drugs. The start of the second season introduces us to the Johnson-Roehler family: Fred, Verna, and their four children, a Brady Bunch blended family who lived on the idyllic, yet low-profile, beach town of Malibu in the 1970s.

But this is no sitcom. Tragedy strikes while Fred, Velma, and their young son Doug make their way to the Channel Islands on their 50-foot sailboat. Velma and Doug drown 30-miles off the coast, Fred being the only survivor and only witness. Initially, people were skeptical that this was no accident, but the Ventura County Medical Examiner determines the deaths to be accidental drownings. But their cremations were suspended when the Sheriff’s Office receives a tip from a family friend, and they want to know what happened to Fred’s first wife.

The first season of “Lost Hills” is a story about the Malibu we know, and the rich, glitzy facade it puts up now. In 2018, Tristan Beaudette was shot in the head while at a Malibu campground with his young children. And he wasn’t the only one. For many months prior, people had been shot in the dead of night at the same campground. Beaudette’s horrifying murder reveals more than just a serial killer, though, but an entire police cover-up.

Dana Goodyear narrates us through first and second seasons of “Lost Hills,” shining a new light on the sunny city of Malibu. Be sure to catch up and prepare for new episodes, released Wednesdays.

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