Malibu Canyon bodies are gang-related, sheriff says

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 death of 19-year-old Roger Eli Chavez-Barahona, whose body was discovered on an embankment next to Piuma Canyon Road July 27. Chavez-Barahona died from multiple gunshot wounds, the L.A. County coroner said.

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 a dumping ground,” 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 announced it 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.

Deputies from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station have increased patrols in the vicinity of the park to make sure visitors and residents feel safe.