Authorities are working to either confirm or refute a possible link between Anthony Rauda and the shooting of Tristan Beaudette in Malibu Creek State Park

By Christine Pelisek
October 11, 2018 03:51 PM
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Authorities say it’s “too early to tell” whether a California man arrested in the Malibu area this week could be linked to the still-unsolved slaying of a scientist who was camping with his kids in June, PEOPLE confirms.

But Anthony Rauda’s criminal history — including weapons violations and burglaries — as well as the location of his arrest and his possible role in local burglaries dating back to 2016 have raised suspicions that he’s connected to the death of 35-year-old Tristan Beaudette and a series of similar shootings around Malibu Creek State Park, where Beaudette was killed.

“We aren’t going to say ‘yes he is’ or ‘no he is not,’ ” Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell told reporters on Wednesday night. “We don’t have the information yet. There will be a lot of work done.”

Rauda, 42, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of violating his parole, and authorities believe he “could be responsible” for eight burglaries in the Malibu and Calabasas area beginning in October 2016.

He has not yet been formally charged and it was unclear if he has retained an attorney who could comment on his behalf. He remains in custody without bail.

McDonnell said a rifle was found with Rauda when he was arrested and authorities plan to perform ballistic tests to determine if it was used to shoot Beaudette.

Other testing will also be conducted “to try to tie the individual to crimes or eliminate him from potentially from other crimes,” McDonnell said.

He said Rauda’s face is being obscured from the public to avoid contaminating possible identification by witnesses in the various crimes to which he may be linked.

Tristan Beaudette (right) and his family
courtesy Beaudette Family
Malibu Creek State Park
John Antczak/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Beaudette, who had worked as a researcher at a pharmaceutical company, was camping with his two young daughters when he was found fatally shot in the head inside his tent on June 22.

His death, which prompted a $5,000 reward from the Malibu City Council, rattled campground regulars who have enjoyed the park’s relative safety, close proximity to L.A. and tranquil hiking trails.

Rauda was arrested this week on a remote hillside in Malibu Creek State Park one day after the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center was broken into and multiple items were stolen from a vending machine.

He was spotted Wednesday after search crews observed fresh boot prints in the ground leading up to a steep ravine approximately a mile from Mulholland Highway and Las Virgenes Road.

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After following the boot prints about 50 yards, officers heard movement in the brush and saw a man dressed in black clothing walking quickly “who resembled the suspect in the burglaries,” Sheriff McDonnell said. Authorities also realized that Rauda was armed.

They ordered him to drop his weapon and after “a few tense moments” he surrendered and was taken into custody at 3:20 p.m.

Tristan Beaudette (center) and his daughters
Courtesy Beaudette Family

While no arrests have been made in Beaudette’s killing, police have been investigating seven unsolved reports of gunfire in the area outside of the park over the previous two years.

One of the shootings involved a man whose car was allegedly hit by gunfire as he was driving four days before Beaudette was killed, Cece Woods, the editor and owner of The Local Malibu, a local news website, previously told PEOPLE.

The L.A. Times reported that in November 2016 James Rogers was sleeping overnight in a hammock in Tapia Park, just south of Malibu Creek, when he was struck in the right arm by birdshot from a shotgun.

“I really want to catch this person,” Beaudette’s uncle told PEOPLE this summer. “Probably 10 times a day I think about it and those little girls. It tears me up. That is why I feel like I owe him and try to find out who did this.”