Lost Hills: Dead in the Water


Lost Hills investigates the dark side of Malibu, California. Beneath a seductive facade, this city of billionaires, celebrities, and surf bums is hiding something menacing.
Season 2 takes place in the late 70s and early ‘80s, as Malibu was changing from a low-profile beach town into a celebrity haven, full of new money and hard drugs. When a Malibu woman and her son mysteriously drowned, her husband was arrested for their murders—and ultimately convicted. But to this day, many people—including the victim's family—claim he’s innocent.
And listen back to season 1, which chronicled the horrifying story of a man killed in a Malibu campground while sleeping beside his young daughters—and exposed a law-enforcement coverup. 

Hosted by Dana Goodyear (The New Yorker) and produced by Western Sound and Pushkin Industries. Show artwork: For a Kid, 2021, copyright Francesca Gabbiani.

Follow us @losthillspod on Twitter and Instagram for a deeper dive into the stories.

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Recent Reviews
  • heidbeuabflqyv3/-7&
    Season 2 is 5 stars, Season 1 is 1 Star
    I listened to Season 2 first and found it excellent except for the last episode. Well written and well narrated, great storytelling about a fascinating case. In the last episode she switches from a journalist investigating a crime to being the self proclaimed last word on what really happened, and it doesn’t work. She does find one fascinating clue in the episode, but should have prefaced her conclusions with “I think” rather than stating them as fact. But the rest of the season was absolutely gripping; strongly recommended. Alas, couldn’t get past Episode 2 of Season 1 — too much opinionizing from the narrator and the people she interviews, some of whom are as tedious as they are wacky. The narrator is always telling us how things “seem.” Not enough factual reporting. Also, overhypes or hypes clumsily, repeatedly calling Malibu the “Killing Zone.” This makes it sound like a massacre happened when in fact there was just one murder (albeit an absolutely tragic one), one wounding, a bunch of potshots, and a bunch of burglaries. The pacing is slow and the reporting is all over the place. Too much about the Malibu fire; it’s not pertinent to the crime and she has nothing new to say about it. Props to her though— reviews complained about all these problems and she took note and vastly improved in Season 2. Quick learner. Skip Season 1 and listen to Season 2 up until the point where she makes a discovery. Then stop; everything after that is opinion pretending to be fact and detracts from otherwise great storytelling.
  • Marimartrece
    Angry family members in the reviews
    Good podcast. Liked the twist ending. It’s pretty clear the host did manipulate the family for information. Also clear that there are family and friends in the review section here. For those folks, allow me to clarify: talking to a journalist is a “buyer beware” situation…You tell them stuff and then they do what they want.
  • 123mailreader
    Just fantastic
    Lost Hiss is where it’s at! She has a gift for painting the vibe of Malibu. Season 3 has been my favorite thus far. Excellent work, well worth the listen!
  • Grandesid
    Stories good but audio makes it unlistenable
    Interest story. Well told and paced. However, the use of archival audio renders this show virtually unlistenable (in a care any way). It’s a shame they went with it in this format. I’m only half way through it buts it’s doubtful I’ll finish
  • hazelbnr
    Well done, until…
    I was on board until the last episode, and I now I feel manipulated . It seems like an act of true betray by the writer narrator to get the trust and openness of the Roehler family, and the listener, and then declare Fred guilty. Let the listener decide. These days the press is unabashedly navigating their audience to their desired outcome, rather than encouraging critical thought.
  • Nice Personnn
    Unique content, great host, superb storytelling
    Great host with an articulate, pleasant voice. She is appropriately emotional when it’s relevant and appropriately non-emotional when reporting facts and objective details. The content of both seasons is genuinely fascinating and entertaining. Draws you in and keeps you craving more.
  • castpod1202
    Beautifully Reported
    I can’t wait to see what Dana brings us next. Riveting stories that are both devastating and heartfelt. True Crime can sometimes lean very anti-law enforcement, and Dana does not do that. She calls out mistakes, but also acknowledges good investigating, and how difficult these circumstances are for everyone involved. Great show!
  • PBS_1979
    A Biased Garbled Mess!
    Dana Goodyear is a hack! Worst Podcast I have ever heard. This wasn’t storytelling, or journalism, this was a garbled mess of opinion, gossip and obvious misdirected lies. How much of the “evidence” she referred to was actually allowed in court? How much was deemed junk science? Would Fred and his family have agreed to supply this hack with all documents they had and opened their house to this train wreck of a human if they weren’t promised a different result from her script?
  • Mom Doin her best
    Be a journalist, not the judge
    Journalists are supposed to be impartial. This was an entertaining listen (season 2) but near the end she assumes the roll of judge, jury and executioner. Allow the listener to come to their own decisions.
  • mlharris729
    Great podcast
    I really enjoyed this podcast. I like the writer’s style and her voice is…..calming!
  • npr_87
    Lost Hill: A disappointing portrayal of a family’s tragic accident
    As a close friend of the Roehler/Johnson Family, I was anticipating listening to fact based reporting including interviews with actual family friends. It is disappointing to realize one can say anything on a podcast regardless of whether it is true. Dana included tiny clips of actual friends, However, she gave a bigger voice to the gossipy outsiders. I grew up with the Roehlers and I know for a fact Doug did not consider John a best friend, that relationship was overly exaggerated. There are endless erroneous statements in this podcast, it is truly mind boggling. I will no longer listen to a podcast blindly thinking everything is true. Dana clearly decided Fred was guilty at the beginning and weirdly tried to insert herself into the story. It is appalling she is a writer for New Yorker. Dana did an excellent job of sensationalizing Fred’s tragic story for her benefit. Shame on you Dana and team!
  • CottageChic
    Captivating story, biased reporting
    I’ll give it 2 stars because it was a very entertaining listen, but you lost me at the end when the reporter became judge, jury and executioner. Listening to every episode, I’m not still convinced of Fred’s guilt or innocence, and, unless the narrator knows something else she didn’t tell us, I have no idea how she could draw the conclusion she did.
  • klk6355
    I never write reviews and typically I am easy to please and give 5-stars often. But this podcast is a joke. Another reviewer said it felt like a parody of a real podcast and I concur. Dull. “Cliff hangers” were laughable. The point of season 1 was obvious from the beginning…No big reveal. No reason to listen to the monotone delivery and absolutely boring story. Rest in Peace, Tristan.
  • cdoc
    Season 2 is top notch
    Greta stuff
  • SaKnPe
    Good story, but didn’t like the ending
    I agree with a lot of comments, there was too much weight on feelings, giving the feelings of specific people more weight than evidence, would have like it more if they had left it up to the listener to make up their mind if he is or isn’t guilty.
  • Kadence404
    It was fine until the end
    I don’t understand how you can spend so much time highlighting very serious issues with the evidence used to convict, then at the very end make a hard turn and say “it doesn’t matter, because I think he’s guilty anyway”. This went from journalism to opinion so quickly I got whiplash. No additional reflection on the evidence and where the trial went wrong or how she thinks the evidence supports her opinion, just “the evidence was probably garbage, but I think this guy is a liar”. This was exceptionally off putting. I feel bad for his daughters and the way the host talks about them at the end after they opened up to her and made themselves so vulnerable. It feels very exploitative of them and not in good taste. I will never listen to a podcast by this host again. Not only do I have a problem with her ethical choices, her pacing is terrible and she includes so much irrelevant information that makes the story drag on endlessly. There was no reason for this story to need 10 episodes. I actually found it painful to listen to at times because it got really boring. I wish I gave up and didn’t finish it, but I’m almost glad I did so I could write this review and let the host know what I think.
  • jopomama
    Spoiler Alert: Bad Journalism
    The host’s lack of regard for being objective is unsettling and in truth dangerous. What happened to cold hard facts. She herself states that the use of certain forensic evidence has been debated over the last few years as admissible in court. The way she did his daughter’s dirty is atrocious. Unfollowing.
  • Steve-O-2-0
    Another angry white leftist Karen....
    Trying desperately to make facts fit her narrative. It's bias to the bone and poisoned by politics, like everything these days. It is to the point where I pass on any true crime podcast if I see a white woman is hosting it. You already know what you're in for.
  • b3nic3
    Shame on you
    Dana and team: what you did with season 2 is despicable. You tell an entirely biased story, heavy with voices and theories against Fred that have been entirely discredited. In addition, you appear to intentionally leave out key information again and again, providing listeners with a skewed version of the few actual facts that exist in this case. Case in point: when was Jeanne’s blood alcohol level actually tested? This detail would provide factual information, allowing the listener to understand a much more complete story. There are countless more examples of Dana’s bias in telling this story. It almost feels as if Dana and team were rushed to get this story out before the new year, and at some point merely threw the towel in, so to speak. It appears that the gossip and rumor mills in Malibu were and continue to be alive and well, and this podcast is only serving to reinforce this. An innocent man has whittled his life away in prison, because of people like Dana who choose to take here-say and conjecture and define them as truth. It’s the worst kind of reporting there is. Even more hurtful is how Dana has twisted and turned the daughters’ voices to add further pain to their life experiences. How about doing some actual investigative journalism and interview Justin Brooks of The Innocence Project, or the countless family members of Fred, Jeanne and Verna who all believe in his innocence? How about doing a deep dive into the extensive history in our country of people who are unjustly convicted of crimes based on entirely bogus evidence? That might actually be compelling and worth listening to. How Dana can call herself a journalist is beyond me. For shame.
  • ChristinaRenee918
    Binge worthy
    It’s rare I find a podcast I can do more than 2 episodes at once. I couldn’t turn this off.
  • Konnor J.
    Miscarriage of justice
    I love “true crime” podcasts and listen to them all the time. There are good and bad ones out there and this is bottom of the barrel! The ones I feel most connected to are those that show a true connection to the survivors and their story and where they are now in their journey of healing. I didn’t get the sense that they were heard and cared for in this.
  • Justice Nichols
    Very biased
    This podcast was very biased. At the end of the podcast this should have been up for interpretation. However, I felt as though it made everyone have a “verdict”. This made it seem as though he was the criminal the court sentenced him as. His family clearly agreed to this as though he would be represented as the person he really his. It is very disappointing seeing a “reporter” not show both sides. I see this podcast as as an embarrassment. This did not represent the case well. And the person who released this should be embarrassed of her lack of respect and inflect.
  • Paka!
    The uptick in listeners to the “true crime” genre has made desperate writers in need of sponsorship and airtime stoop to the lowest of levels. How in the world do you sleep at night knowing you “used” this family’s story for your own gain. Dana, you clearly rushed the ended and didn’t do your due diligence. Shame on you and I hope you have reached out to them with your apologies.
  • 1981KKS
    Top of the game
    Journalism at it’s finest. The research and delivery really make you feel like you’re there investigating with them. Everything from the production to the artwork of the podcast is complete professionalism.
  • sothenisaid
    Season 2 drags on
    The first few episodes were good and hooked me but then the second half drags on and goes over the same facts about his wealth, the marriages, his personality, and Malibu over and and over again.
  • Wapo Laguti
    How we so often convict.
    A good true crime story, but, frankly, disturbing in that (it seems to me, any way) undue weight was given to people’s “feelings” of someone being guilty. Some weight is fine, yes, but the vast majority should be on evidence, hard or circumstantial. There are countless cases of people being found guilty in a court of law, wherein the juries “felt in their bones” that they got the conviction right, in which the convicted are later proven innocent by evidence. That’s the opposite of justice, in my book, especially in cases where evidence proves that someone was definetely murdered or raped, as that means the purpetrator was still out there the whole time, in many cases re-offending. Call me crazy, but I happen to believe the absolute worst thing that can happen in a capital crime is to wrongly convict an innocent person. It’s almost a crime itself, and sometimes it definetly is. However, as people continue to be convicted of heinous crimes based largely on some type of prejudice or other, lacking either evidence or conscientious investigators, our society seems to disagree with me, thinking its not so bad putting potentially innocent people in jail or on death row. And this podcast disagrees with me too, apparently. Better to put “somebody” in jail than “letting a killer go free”, even though putting away the wrong person also lets killers go free, while destroying yet another innocent life on top of it! Crazy, infuriating, and unbelievably disheartening, that part. Just my opinion. Even so, you get three stars for telling a great story and doing great investigative work.
  • Beachlover2010
    I liked the show but not the final opinion of the writer
    She serves as Judge and Jury. Not great for a reporter. Impressed with everything but the surprising “end”. Disappointed.
  • z.,,,
    Lost Hills
    I really liked it until Dana stabbed the girls in the back for her story. They trusted her to get the word out and she used the situation against them. I will no longer listen to Pushkin podcasts if this is the crap you put out. And we all know listeners are very important.
  • 19572020
    What a waste of time. The last episode was so jarring when the host just announces she thinks the subject is guilty. If she is so certain, why doesn’t she confront him with that belief and also tell his children, whom she has blatantly used and manipulated. Seemed like a rather shallow show of bravado on her part.
  • kellybelly1115
    Great show
    I binged season 2 in about a week. Great reporting and storytelling. I couldn’t stop listening!
  • citylawyer
    Desperately needs an editor
    This series could have accomplished the same lukewarm analysis of the facts in five episodes. Perhaps it was the lack of relevant facts that caused the narrator’s point of view to appear to wander all over the map. Who knows what really happened and what was set forth at trial but if the paltry case laid out in the podcast was the basis for a conviction it would have been a miscarriage.
  • jenlawyer
    Stop putting spoilers in the reviews
    I enjoy the podcast. Really wish the people posting reviews wouldn’t post spoilers. I mean, come on.
  • KatLeoni
    Good storyteller. Poor journalism
    Spoiler: the narrator is convinced of his guilt and listens to gossip over facts. Very disappointed the ending was so biased and unfounded. Doug’s friend, and their trip to the island, did not help literally any part of their argument, and yet they present it as a smoking gun…. Really troubling story. Episodes 1-8 were objective and did a solid job laying out the story. I wish episode 9 and 10 followed the same logic. Bad journalism. Focus on the questionable DA and maybe attempt to make a difference.
  • tomnottom
    Don’t participate
    Let this be a lesson to anyone that gets approached by “media” about a topic relative to them. They will 100% twist your words to fit their narrative. They will promise you unbiased journalism but absolutely turn their backs on you for a “story”. Shame on Dana Goodyear and the people at Pushkin media for dragging this man’s family thru the mud, reliving horrific memories so they can sell ads and make blood money revenue.
  • ESPitel
    Host is bias - taints the podcast
    Dana Goodyear is obviously biased in this podcast and believes Fred is guilty from the beginning and it shows in the way the story is written And told. Disappointing to hear such obvious by us on a crime podcast.
  • mixedbits
    Monotone voice has me falling asleep
    Couldn't even get through the first episode because the host is so monotone and boring.
  • Chris Raider
    Makes me want to subscribe!
  • Cobwebbywings
    Unfollowed after Season 2 conclusion
    I was having a few problems with the lack of any real evidence in this story, but it was keeping me engaged, right up until the last episode. I thought the intention was to let the family have their say, but apparently the real intention was to exploit them for subscribers. What’s the point of telling the story if you thought the man was guilty the whole time? I have listened to some many true crime podcasts that do nothing but speculate on circumstantial evidence and it turns out this is just another one. Boring.
  • Lost Hills
    In-depth and thought-provoking
    Upon listening to the first episode of season 1, I was enthralled by Dana Goodyear’s thorough and creative approach to her amateur investigating. She notices details that many people would have overlooked and she thoughtfully interviews relevant characters. I love the combination of the niche history of Malibu alongside complex true-crime cases that remain relatively unresolved. I was shocked that she included her opinion at the end of season 2. Although I think it is important for reporters to remain objective, there was something very satisfying to me knowing what she thought about it. Great listen, I highly recommend.
  • Iluser
    Great podcast. It is so interesting and well told.
  • Callihj987654321
    Host is not acting as a journalist
    FYI I mention plot points. Not a spoiler, but still. Like others I found it very odd that the host is certain re Fred’s guilt. There are unsatisfying loose ends… did host ever confront accused re Jeanne’s blood alcohol level? If she comes to a certain conclusion why did she not share that w accused for comment? Very odd choice for Dana Goodyear to posit her opinion for the finale and lay it down as fact. I think this may just be a cheap ploy to generate controversy/publicity. Good story, though. To be clear, that is not Dana Goodyear’s doing.
  • carlos de la costa vasca
    Engaging and elegantly told but I wasn’t convinced of the hosts conclusions by the evidence presented.
  • cultural genocide indeed
    Out of this world
    Beyond riveting. Absolute passion for detail. Outstanding narration. Bravo! Thank you🙏🏽
  • Brent L. White
    Season 2: Strange reporting for a true crime podcast
    What did I just listen to? I must have liked it well enough to stick with it, but still… this was a letdown. For the first eight episodes, Goodyear does little to dispel the notion that Fred Roehlers, the man convicted of the crime, was guilty. Abruptly, however, in episode 9, she injects a lot of doubt: the interpretation of the second autopsy was all wrong! But then, in episode 10, she’s like, “Nope, he did it.” Why not tell us that Jean, Fred’s first wife, had no alcohol in her blood when she drowned, rather than saving that bombshell for episode 10? Goodyear already devoted an episode to Jean and the drowning. Didn’t that episode lead us to believe that Jean’s intoxication was an established fact? Also, Jean’s alleged drowning is a linchpin: somehow, if Fred can cause her drowning without leaving any visible signs of trauma, then he can do the same with Doug and Verna. Yes, but how? I didn’t follow that. I found myself backing up 15, 30, or 45 seconds much more frequently during this podcast than most others I listen to. Maybe the problem is my attention span, or maybe it’s just not well reported. And what was the meaning of the illustration in episode 10 involving the skeleton and the baby pool? No one arranged these objects, right? Goodyear inferred meaning and connections where none existed. Yet this inference was wrong. But hold on… doesn’t that illustration work against the very thing Goodyear does in episode 10? She suddenly sees connections and draws inferences everywhere! Finally, the archival audio quality was generally awful and distracting throughout the podcast. Next time, either clean up the audio or read a transcript of what was said.
  • ekyles
    This seems like a parody of other podcasts. No real point. Just a long time spent to state the host thinks the convicted guys did it. Okay.
  • la hermanas
    Fantastic presentation
    Yes journalists should be object but this was her story to tell.
  • Alan_M_Z
    Not objective
    Loved this season until the host randomly decided to take a side in the last episode without real evidence… I would suggest listening up to episode nine, but episode ten isn’t objective, it’s just the host speculating. Skip that one.
  • Bed 623
    Seriously the best podcast
    I have so far binged season 2 and am now currently listening to season 1 of Lost Hills and I’m obsessed with this podcast. Not only is the hosts voice just soothing to listen to there is also an incredible amount of depth to each season. So much research and talking to people involved or close with the individuals, it’s so informative. And I read the other reviews and I personally enjoy the fact that the host voices her own opinion. I still have my own room to decide for myself who I think did it while hearing out the host. Great great job. I can’t wait for season 3.
  • crodgy101
    Great podcast, but…
    Love the podcast, but the quality of the audio for all of the recorded phone calls could be improved significantly. The host sounds great, but the recorded phone calls sound muffled and really quiet.
  • parsleyaddams
    Extremely well done
    Fascinating story-narration excellent. And disagree with any issue with conclusion. The journalistic detail very good and objective and I highly approve of how this journalist came to a her conclusion based on facts and what she actually and investigators saw in person at that rock. This is a pod cast-not a current report in the news.
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