A Los Angeles-based street gang is responsible for the two bodies discovered recently in Malibu Canyon, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
Detective Karen Shonka of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is investigating the most recent incident: the death of 19-year-old Roger Eli Chavez-Barahona, whose body was discovered on an embankment next to Piuma Canyon Road on July 27. He died from multiple gunshot wounds, the L.A. County coroner said.
Michelle Mota, Chavez- Barahona’s sister-in-law, said the young man went missing on July 21.
“Roger was a good person. He came from Honduras two years ago and had hopes of becoming a diesel mechanic engineer just like his big brother. He had no known feuds with anybody,” Mota said.
“He was last seen with friends before they left to the Santa Monica Mountains,” she said.
Chavez-Barahona’s body was the second one discovered in recent months in the Malibu Canyon area. The body of 52-year-old Francisco Reynaldo Cruz was found May 16 in a drainage ditch along the 1600 block of Las Virgenes Canyon Road south of Calabasas. Cruz was killed by sharp force injuries to the neck and chest, and a blunt force injury to the head, a report said.
“It appears as though that’s a new location for body dumps. It happens quite a bit in the Angeles National Forest, but for some reason it appears as though (this gang) has changed locations as far as a dumping ground (is concerned),” Shonka said. “We don’t know if (their deaths) are related.”
Shonka rejected the notion that the dumping of the two bodies might be connected to the killing of Tristan Beaudette while he slept with his two young daughters in a tent at Malibu Creek State Park in June.
“Absolutely not,” the detective said.
Reward for information
The Calabasas City Council is adding $5,000 to the reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for murdering Beaudette, a 35-year-old Irvine man.
The total reward is now $35,000. The city of Malibu has offered $5,000, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is giving $10,000 and the Allergan pharmaceutical company, Beaudette’s Orange County employer, has offered $15,000.
Beaudette was camping with his daughters, ages 2 and 4, at Malibu Creek State Park when he was shot in the head in the early morning hours of June 22. The children were unharmed. One report said four gunshots were heard.
“We need the public’s assistance to solve this horrible crime and bring this murderer to justice,” Calabasas Mayor Fred Gaines said. “If you have any information whatsoever regarding this matter please contact our Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station.”
The California Department of Parks and Recreation announced the campground would remain closed until further notice. Since Beaudette was killed, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has published a list of gunfire reports from in and around the park in the last two years.
Some were reports of the sound of gunfire, while other people said they had been shot at. One man was hospitalized with birdshot in his arm, and a woman sleeping in her car said she was the target of gunfire.
Additional patrols were added in the vicinity of the park, the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station said.
In light of the recent Malibu Canyon murders, state Sen. Henry Stern (D-Calabasas) will join members of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Parks and Recreation at King Gillette Ranch Aug. 19 to address the issue of safety in the local Santa Monica Mountains. The session will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at King Gillette, 26800 Mulholland Highway, just south of Calabasas.