Where is Verna Jo Roehler’s husband Fred Roehler Now? – Frederick George II ROEHLER (born 1943) was convicted in 1985 of murdering his second wife, Verna Jo (1944-1981)[SS# 571-58-3209], and his stepson, Douglas Brian Johnson (1972-1981), on January 2, 1981. At the time, Roehler was 38 years old. Roehler was condemned to life in prison without the possibility of release after pleading not guilty. His goal was to receive $700,000 in life insurance proceeds.
Fred Roehler was on a dory with his wife and stepson just after New Year’s Day in 1981 when disaster struck, leaving only Fred alive. The authorities, on the other hand, did not trust his version of events, believing he was involved in their killings.
Season 2 of Dana Goodyear’s Pushkin Industries podcast ‘Lost Hills‘ delves into this complex case and the subsequent trial. So, if you’re curious about Fred’s fate, we’ve got you covered.
Fred Roehler: Who is He?
Fred lived in Malibu, California, in 1981 as a consultant for the US Marine Corps. Fred, his wife Verna Jo, and her son Douglas Johnson were sailing to Santa Cruz Island, California, in a dory on January 2, 1981. People aboard another sailboat later that day observed an overturned dory with Fred nearby. He was holding Verna, 36, under one arm and Douglas, 8, under the other.
The authorities interrogated Fred after Verna and Douglas died. He said that their pet dog had suddenly jumped overboard, forcing the dory to capsize at the time. Fred claimed he was only trapped beneath the boat for a brief time before discovering his wife and stepson had drowned.
While an initial autopsy found that both died as a result of accidental drowning, a second autopsy revealed that Douglas had suffered head trauma. The 8-year-old was smacked in the head while still alive, causing brain damage, according to a pathologist.
The authorities then received an anonymous phone call urging them to investigate Fred’s first wife’s death. Jean Roehler died of pneumonia after being discovered face-down in a hot tub in October 1976.
Fred claimed to the cops that he had only stepped out of the tub for a few moments to buy some wine and returned to find her face down. Verna had a large life insurance policy with Fred as the beneficiary, according to the police.
Fred was accused of murdering Verna and Jean for financial gain, according to the prosecution. Experts testified at the trial that due to their physical construction, dories are difficult to capsize. Furthermore, given Fred’s account of the events, medical experts testified that the injuries sustained by Verna and Douglas were unlikely to have occurred. But there was no tangible proof linking him to the deaths.
What Happened to Fred Roehler and Where Is He Now?
Fred was found guilty of two charges of first-degree murder in May 1982 and condemned to a life without the possibility of parole. While his conviction was upheld in 1985, one of the panel’s judges demanded that it be overturned.
He cited circumstantial evidence and claimed that the court permitted the jury to hear irrelevant information, claiming that the trial was not conducted on “a sound, scientific basis.”
Kirsten Roehler, Fred’s daughter, has always maintained his father’s innocence and advocated for his release. She indicated that the family did not believe Fred was guilty and that the conviction was based on false evidence. Even Verna’s family felt Fred had nothing to do with the two deaths, according to Kirsten.
He is still detained at the California State Prison in Lancaster, Los Angeles County, at the age of 79. Fred has heart and lung issues, according to Kirsten, making him sensitive to COVID-19. While he has sought for clemency, the fate of his case has yet to be established, according to a 2020 report.