Just after New Year’s Day1981 Fred RoehlerHis wife and stepson were in a dory when tragedy struck. The only thing that saved them was their lives. Fred surviving. However, the authorities didn’t believe his version of the events, feeling he had something to do with their deaths. Season2 Pushkin Industries’ podcast ‘Lost Hills,’ hosted by Dana GoodyearThis article explains the case and the trial that followed. So, if you’re wondering what happened to Fred, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Fred Roehler?
In 1981, FredConsult for the US MarinesAnd lived in Malibu, California. On January 2, 1981, FredHis wife Verna Jo, and her baby boy Douglas JohnsonThey were cruising along their sailboat taking a look at the world from their boat. Santa Cruz IslandIn California. LaterPeople on another sailboat witnessed the same thing, an overturned dory. Fred nearby. HeA 36-year old woman VernaUnder one arm and 8-years-old DouglasUnder the other.
VernaAnd Douglaswere found dead and authorities interrogated Fred. AtHe claimed that their dog suddenly jumped on top of the boat, causing it to capsize. FredHe claimed that he was only temporarily trapped under the boat when he realized that his wife had drowned and that his stepson had also drowned. WhileAn initial autopsy concluded that both had drowned. A second autopsy revealed that they had suffered head injuries. Douglas. AccordingAccording to a pathologist he sustained brain damage after being hit in the head as he was still conscious.
ThenThe authorities were contacted anonymously by a caller who asked them to investigate the death of Fred’s first wife. In October 1976, Jean RoehlerAfter being discovered face down in a hot bathtub, he succumbed to pneumonia. Back then, FredThe police told him that he only left the tub for a moment to get some wine, but returned to find her face down. ThePolice also learned that VernaA large life insurance policy was purchased for which FredThe beneficiary was
TheProsecution believed Fred killed VernaAnd JeanFor financial gain, and he was charged with murder. AtExperts testified at the trial that dories are difficult to capsize because of their physical construction. FurthermoreMedical experts have testified that the injuries suffered by VernaAnd DouglasThey were unlikely to have occurred, given the circumstances. Fred’s description of the events that unfolded. HoweverHe was not physically connected to the deaths.
Where is Fred Roehler Now?
In May 1982, FredHe was convicted of two counts of first-degree killing and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. WhileAlthough his conviction was upheld by the court in 1985, one judge on the panel demanded that it be overturned. He pointed to the circumstantial evidence and believed that the court allowed the jury to hear evidence that was not relevant, adding that it was not conducted on “a sound, scientific basis.”
Fred’s daughter, Kirsten Roehler, has always believed in his father’s innocence and campaigned for his release. She stated that the family didn’t think FredHe was found guilty of the crime and was sentenced for junk science. KirstenFurther, it was mentioned that even Verna’s family believed FredThe deaths had nothing to with it.
NowHe is approximately 79 years old and remains in prison at the California State PrisonIn Lancaster, Los Angeles County. AccordingTo Kirsten, Fredhe has heart and lung disease, making him vulnerable for COVID-19. WhileHe has filed for clemency. However, it was reported that his status has not been determined.
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