Searchers were scouring Malibu Creek State Park on foot and horseback Wednesday looking for evidence in the case of a 42-year-old parolee arrested in a series of food heists in the Malibu and Calabasas areas, and possibly linked to the June killing of a man camping with his young daughters in the park.

Anthony Rauda was arrested around 3:20 p.m. Oct. 10 in a ravine about a mile-and-a-half north of Mulholland Highway and west of Las Virgenes Road in the Malibu Canyon area.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said deputies combing the area that day spotted fresh bootprints, followed them for about 50 yards and arrested the rifle-carrying suspect following a short standoff.

Searchers went back to the park Wednesday morning to look for “anything related to the burglary investigation,” said Deputy Kimberly Alexander. “We are doing due diligence.”

When asked by a KCAL9 reporter at the scene about what may have been found, sheriff’s Lt. Charles Calderaro said: “I can’t comment on any of the evidence. There’s two separate investigations going on … and we can’t release any information regarding the evidence, because that could jeopardize the investigation.”

Rauda’s arrest came amid a renewed search effort prompted by an early morning burglary Oct. 9 at a Calabasas community center, where someone smashed a vending machine and stole food.

Investigators quickly linked the break-in to eight other burglaries over the past two years. The culprit was captured on surveillance video in one of the recent crimes, showing him carrying a rifle and sparking speculation that he could be linked to reported shootings in the Malibu Creek area — including the June killing of 35-year-old scientist Tristan Beaudette of Irvine.

McDonnell said on Oct. 10 that Rauda was booked only on a suspected parole violation while deputies continue to investigate the burglaries.

The sheriff said then that investigators had not linked Rauda to the Beaudette killing, but a rifle he was carrying at the time of his arrest would undergo forensic analysis.

Rauda, who was dressed in black clothes when arrested, has a criminal history that includes burglaries and weapons violations, McDonnell said.

The Oct. 9 burglary occurred about 3 a.m. at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center at 27040 Malibu Hills Road. Another break-in occurred Oct. 4 in the 700 block of Malibu Canyon Road, and there was also a Sept. 30 burglary at a commercial structure in the 26800 block of Mulholland Highway. In that break-in, surveillance video showed the burglar wearing what deputies called “tactical gear” and carrying a rifle.

The suspect in all of the heists stole food, deputies said, suggesting the man was living off the grid in the wilderness, carrying out the burglaries when he needed food.

On Oct. 2, sheriff’s officials conducted a large-scale manhunt in the area, but failed to turn up a suspect. Some residents reported hearing gunfire that night.

On Oct. 6, a maintenance worker in the Tapia Park area about a mile south of the Malibu Creek State Park campground “encountered a person who matched the description of the armed commercial burglar,” Sgt. Matthew Dunn of the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s station said. Dunn said the man asked the park worker for a ride out of the canyon, “because he said there were so many police in the area.”

The maintenance worker left and called deputies, prompting another massive search of the area that day. Deputies combed Malibu Canyon for hours with the aid of three helicopters. The search was called off when darkness fell over the area.

Sheriff’s officials said they believe the suspect may also be linked to a Sept. 24 burglary in the 700 block of Malibu Canyon Road and a July 27 break-in at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center. Other burglaries of which the same person is suspected occurred on March 8, 2017, in the 26800 block of Mulholland Highway; on Oct. 28, 2016, a few miles north of Malibu Creek State Park in Calabasas; and on Oct. 10, 2016, in the 26800 block of Dorothy Drive in an unincorporated area near Calabasas, the sheriff’s department reported.

In all of the break-ins, food was stolen, McDonnell said.

The break-ins and searches have heightened trepidation among residents who have been on edge since the June 22 shooting death of Beaudette, who was killed in his tent at Malibu Creek State Park, where he was camping with his two daughters, ages 2 and 4.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.