Real StoryTrue Crime

Tristan Beaudette – Authorities were aware of a monster but took no action

Tristan Beaudette was recognized as one of Edison High School’s valedictorians by The Fresno Bee. He excelled in the Science Olympiad for Computech Middle School in 1997, securing first place in the Bio-Processing Lab. Tragically, all was lost in an instant—a fatal gunshot in the dark, witnessed by his two young daughters. The senselessness of this crime remains an enduring struggle…

On the morning of Sunday, June 17, 2018, 35-year-old Tristan Beaudette pulled his phone out of his pocket to check the weather forecast for Orange County, California. Orange County is this beautiful suburb located right between Los Angeles and San Diego, and this beautiful suburb is where Tristan and his wife, 36-year-old Erica Wu, and their two young daughters, aged two and four, called home.

Tristan Beaudette, Erica Wu & Their Daughters
Tristan Beaudette, Erica Wu & Their Daughters

On this day, which was Father’s Day, Tristan Beaudette had gotten up early to check the weather to make sure it was going to be clear that day because he really wanted to take his family out for a fun beach day to celebrate his holiday.

He was in luck because when his app loaded, it showed that Orange County was going to be beautiful and clear all day. Although even if the weather had come back as rainy and horrible and cold, Tristan was the kind of person who still would have wanted to go to the beach because, for Tristan, anything outdoors was really awesome.

Tristan Beaudette
Tristan Beaudette

That was his happy place – being out in nature, whether it was going to the beach, hiking, camping, or just throwing a frisbee around outside. He didn’t care. If he was outside, he was good with it.

Even though his daughters were still very young, they both already had totally fallen in love with nature, just like their dad had, which made Tristan Beaudette so happy because now he had these two little sidekicks that would go with him on all of his outdoor adventures.

Tristan Beaudette & His Daughter
Tristan Beaudette & His Daughter

As for Tristan’s wife, Erica, she did love the outdoors but maybe not as much as Tristan Beaudette did. But that was okay with Tristan because all he would do is make little adjustments to his adventures to make it more bearable for Erica. Like whenever they went camping, Tristan would totally rough it in a tent right on the ground, but he would bring along a big full-size blow-up mattress for his wife.

Tristan Beaudette
Tristan Beaudette

And this was something that Erica just adored about Tristan. Not that he literally waited on her hand and foot, but rather that Tristan Beaudette just kind of went with the flow. If his wife wanted a blow-up mattress, that was fine, you know. It didn’t matter to him. That was just who he was. He just didn’t judge people. He was at peace with the world. In fact, it was that character trait that had originally attracted Erica to Tristan. Erica had met Tristan back in high school when some mutual friends had set them up. Tristan didn’t have a date to a dance at school, and so the friends were kind of like, “Erica, go with him.”

Tristan Beaudette & Erica Wu
Tristan Beaudette & Erica Wu

So Erica agreed to go, and on the night she actually met Tristan Beaudette for the first time, she’s laying eyes on him for the first time. He was a sight to behold. The summer prior, he had sprouted up like four inches or so, so he’s super tall, but his body hadn’t quite filled out yet, so he’s super lanky looking. And he was totally overdressed for this dance. He had on this full tuxedo, and he was not remotely self-conscious.

He was only psyched to have a date to this dance, and during this dance, Tristan would just totally rock that tuxedo in all of his gangly glory, as if this tuxedo was made for him. And he would really try hard to make sure that Erica had a good time with him, and she totally did. And so after the dance was over, the pair was inseparable.

Erica would go on to study at Stanford and would become an OB-GYN doctor. As for Tristan, he would become this wildly successful, widely published scientist with a patent related to vaccine delivery. However, in typical Tristan fashion, he didn’t care at all about his resume. It didn’t matter that it was completely stacked. I mean, on paper, this guy was just unbelievable. But Tristan Beaudette never changed his personality.

Tristan Beaudette & Erica Wu
Tristan Beaudette & Erica Wu

He never changed anything about himself. In fact, his scientist colleagues who adored him, they used to think it was hysterical that this brilliant chemist, who was on the cutting edge of various cancer treatments and all this crazy research, that guy was actually this big, melodic person who wandered around the lab and started most of his sentences with “dude.”


By early afternoon on that Father’s Day in 2018, Erica and Tristan and their two little girls had made their way to a local beach, and Erica had found herself sitting in a beach chair, reading a book. And Tristan and the girls had set up a sunshade right down where the water broke, and they were digging in the sand.

And so over the course of that afternoon, Erica, she’s reading her book, and periodically, she would look up, and she would see Tristan and the girls digging in the sand or making sand castles.

And then at some point, Tristan Beaudette and the girls, they would get up and abandon their dig site, and they would run into the water, and then they would run back to shore right as the waves were breaking, trying to kind of escape the waves.

And the two little girls thought this was so much fun, and they were laughing hysterically and screeching with excitement as the waves crashed at their ankles. These are tiny little waves. And at some point, Erica, she’s looking up watching this, and she sees her two little girls having a blast, and she sees her husband flash her this big grin because he knows this is totally funny.

Tristan Beaudette & Their Daughters
Tristan Beaudette & Their Daughters

And at that moment, Erica suddenly felt herself feel something that she didn’t always feel these days, and that was just contentedness, happiness. Tristan, because he was this totally laid-back guy, he was able to just kind of enjoy life as it came to him.

But Erica, she couldn’t do that. She was a constant warrior, and that was largely because when she was just 8 years old, she lost her father, and it was this totally traumatic experience that really upset her childhood. It was just devastating for the family.

And so ever since then, she had developed this very real paranoia that no matter how good her life was, that at any second, it was going to be ruined by something horrible happening to her. But as she sat in this chair watching her husband smiling at her and seeing her kids playing with him, it was just this perfect moment. And so Erica would put the book down, and she would get up and run into the surf to be with her family. Little did she know something horrible was about to happen.

Tristan Beaudette & His Family
Tristan Beaudette & His Family

Four days later, on June 21st, Erica was home studying for this big medical exam she was scheduled to take the next day. But at the house with her was her husband and her two little girls, and so the house was totally chaotic and loud, and it was obvious to Tristan Beaudette as he looked over at his wife that she was really struggling to focus.

And Tristan also knew that they were a week away from moving. They were moving to San Francisco. They had just put a deposit down on a house. They had some family up there, so it was a smart move to make. But they still had a lot to do for this move, and so Tristan’s looking at his wife, knowing that the stress levels have got to be through the roof for her.

And so Tristan Beaudette decided he would just take the girls and head out for the weekend to make sure Erica had the time and space she needed to prepare for this test and also just maybe to be alone and have some peace and quiet. And so Tristan made a couple of phone calls, and then after he was done, he talked to Erica, and he told her that he had just made reservations at this campsite up in Malibu, California.

Malibu is another beautiful Southern California town located about an hour and a half north of Orange County. It’s where a lot of celebrities live. It’s a very rich part of California. And he tells Erica that he had made reservations in this campground that’s out there, and that he had called his brother-in-law named Scott, who had two young kids himself, ages three and five, and they were all going to go there together and spend the weekend at this campsite.

Now, Erica was very thankful for her husband for being willing to do this because she did need the time and space to study. But she immediately was just concerned about it because Tristan, he would take the girls and go out on all sorts of adventures all the time, but he had never gone camping overnight without her there.

Tristan Beaudette & One of His Daughters
Tristan Beaudette & One of His Daughters

And so her reaction was to worry about it. But Tristan, who knew his wife very well, told her, “Don’t worry. I will take great care of the kids. It’s a place that’s totally public. It’s an amazing campground. There’s loads of people around. It’s totally safe.” And so eventually, Erica was convinced.

And so Tristan Beaudette began packing the car with all the camping supplies and the kids’ toys and the kids’ bikes. And as he’s doing that and the girls are really excited about this camping trip, Erica still found herself thinking, you know, “I hope they cancel this trip” because she just couldn’t help feeling like something bad was about to happen. But Tristan did not cancel the trip.

And after the car was all packed and the girls had been tucked into their car seats in the back seat, Tristan kissed Erica goodbye and said he would see her in a couple of days and “Good luck on your test tomorrow.” And with that, Tristan hopped into the car, he backed out of the driveway, and Erica watched as he pulled up the road and headed north towards Malibu.

After studying well into the night, Erica finally went to sleep. And then the next morning, she got up early because she was nervous about the test. She was anxious about her husband and her kids. And so she’s up early, and she’s getting ready.

And as she’s getting ready, she hears a loud knock on the front door. She looks at her clock, and she sees it’s 6:45 in the morning. And there was no reason for anybody to be knocking on her door that early in the morning, maybe unless it was Tristan, but he wouldn’t be knocking on the door. He’d just be coming inside. And so apprehensively, she walked out of her room and went to the front of the house.

And then she opened the front door, and as soon as she saw who was standing there, she knew something was wrong…

Erica would later reflect on this moment when she opened the door, and even though it didn’t make sense and it was irrational, she would sometimes think to herself, “What if I had just never opened the door? Would this nightmare have really happened?”

But Erica did open the door, and standing out there was her sister-in-law Priscilla, who was there unannounced. She lived an hour and a half away, and she looked very frazzled and upset. And she would give Erica absolutely heartbreaking news – news that was so earth-shattering that Erica literally couldn’t comprehend it, like, “This cannot be true. There literally has to be a mistake.”

But there was no mistake. Erica would not take her medical exam that day. Instead, she would hop into the car with Priscilla, and they would drive to Malibu. The day before, Tristan Beaudette and his two little girls, after driving for about an hour and a half, arrived in Malibu at the entrance to the Malibu Creek State Park.

Now, when most people think of Malibu, they just think of the beautiful properties lining the beach. They think of celebrities and rich people and exclusivity, and that’s all true. But what a lot of people don’t know about Malibu is that just outside of the main Malibu area is this totally wild area, this very rugged terrain, all these canyons, all these heavily forested areas.

It all kind of butts up against the outside of Malibu, and in this totally rugged area is where the Malibu Creek State Park is. So Tristan Beaudette and Scott, they arrive at the gates of this park that leads into this wilderness, and they check in with the park rangers up front. They are directed to their respective campsites that they had reserved.

Entrance to Malibu Creek State Park
Entrance to Malibu Creek State Park

They had reserved two sites right next to each other, and all a campsite is usually is just a square little plot of land with nothing in it. It’s a place where you put your tent on, and sometimes there’s a fire pit inside of it. It’s really sparse.

A Typical Campsite
A Typical Campsite

So Tristan Beaudette and Scott, they thank the park ranger. They drive all the way across the campgrounds. They get to their designated spots, and right away, Tristan’s like, these are just not very good campsites. They were located right near the porta-potties, so kind of smelled bad, and there was lots of foot traffic right in front of their sites. And their site was kind of at a tilt too, so just overall it was not ideal. And so Tristan said this to Scott, and Scott decided he would just go talk to the park rangers again and see if they could change their campsites.

The Bathrooms Right Near Tristan's Site At Malibu Creek State Park
The Bathrooms Right Near Tristan’s Site At Malibu Creek State Park

So he went to the front, talks to the park ranger, and they say no problem. There are actually two open campsites on the other side of the park. We’ll just swap your reservation. And so Tristan and Scott and the kids, they make their way to these other two campsites, and these are perfect.

They’re kind of tucked up at the base of this huge canyon. There are no porta-potties nearby, so no foot traffic. It’s very private, and the land was totally flat. So the men are totally happy with this, and they start getting their stuff out of their vehicles and setting up their tents. And the kids are running around playing and riding their little bikes around.

And then after their campsites were mostly set up, Scott and Tristan Beaudette made a fire in the fire pit that was located roughly between where the two tents had been set up. And so Scott was sleeping with his two sons in his tent, and Tristan would be sleeping with his two girls in his tent.

And so they get this big fire going, and then all the kids and the adults, they sit around the fire, and they start roasting hot dogs and making s’mores, which is marshmallow, chocolate, and graham cracker. And the dads are telling funny jokes and spooky stories too. And before long, the kids are just totally exhausted.

So Scott and Tristan Beaudette both take their kids and put them to bed inside of their tents. And then after the kids are tucked in, the two men come back to the fire. And Tristan, who had packed pre-made cocktails, he pulls those out and he shares one with Scott.

And then the two men just enjoyed each other’s company, you know, sat around the campfire, chatted for a while. It was mostly Tristan talking about his upcoming move to San Francisco, but Scott was happy to just listen. And then at some point, the two men were just totally exhausted, and they decided it was time for them to go to bed.

And so they put out the fire. Scott would hug Tristan Beaudette and tell him that he loved him. And then the two men would leave the campfire and go to their respective tents.

As Scott climbed into his tent with his two sons, he turned and looked out the open flap of his tent across the fire pit towards Tristan’s tent. And he saw Tristan climb into the tent with his girls. And so after he sees Tristan get into his tent, Scott zips up his own tent, and he lies down.

And within 10 or 15 minutes, Scott is fast asleep. Just before sunrise the next day, so around 4:45 a.m., Scott suddenly woke up. He thought he heard a loud sound, but he couldn’t place the sound. And so he’s just laying there. It’s still dark outside. And as he’s kind of getting his bearings, he realizes one of Tristan’s daughters is crying in her tent.

Now, this was not cause for alarm necessarily because Scott just thought, you know, whatever she was upset about, Tristan Beaudette would certainly calm her down any minute and she’d be okay.

But as Scott was laying there with his two sons sleeping right next to him, Tristan’s daughter just continued to cry. Now, Tristan was a famously heavy sleeper, and so Scott was thinking, okay, you know, he just must not be awake, and so that’s why he’s not able to comfort his daughter.

And so Scott would carefully get up, he’d unzip his tent, you know, he’d be careful not to step on his sons. He went outside, and outside it’s cold, it’s dark. He cannot see inside of Tristan’s tent. There’s no windows on it. And so he just walks over, and by the time he gets to the tent, he can hear clear as day, Tristan’s daughter is still crying.

And so Scott, kind of loudly but still whispering, says, “Hey, Tristan, Tristan, wake up.” But Tristan doesn’t wake up. And so with Tristan’s daughter still crying right on the other side of the nylon of this tent, Scott decides to just open the tent up and look inside.

And so he walks around to the front of the tent, he unzips the tent, and he looks inside. Now, it’s too dark. He can’t really tell what he’s looking at. But even with the minimal light, he could tell that Tristan Beaudette was clearly still sleeping right in the middle of the tent, and positioned on either side of him was his two-year-old daughter and his four-year-old daughter.

And from the looks of it, the two-year-old was crying, and the four-year-old, who was also whimpering, was doing her best to comfort the two-year-old. And so Scott’s looking in, wondering what’s going on, when the two little girls, they turn and look up at Scott, and when they see him, they just start saying, “Wet, wet, wet.” Now, Scott doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

He’s starting to get a little bit flustered because he thinks something’s wrong. And so he reaches in and just starts shaking Tristan, saying, “Hey, wake up.” But as soon as he did that, he could tell Tristan’s not sleeping. Tristan is dead, and his two little girls are sitting in a pool of his blood.

Right before Scott had woken up, someone who was standing near the campsite had fired a gun several times, and one of their bullets went into Tristan’s tent and struck him right in the head as he slept next to his daughters. Roughly two hours after Tristan Beaudette was killed, Priscilla showed up on Tristan’s doorstep to tell his wife Erica what happened, that her little girls were about to grow up without a father, just like she did. This news absolutely destroyed Erica.

Anthony Rauda Being Arrested
Anthony Rauda Being Arrested

A 42-year-old man named Anthony Rauda would be arrested and charged with Tristan’s murder. Rauda had a long criminal history, and at the time of Tristan’s murder, he was living illegally in this park up in the canyon nearby. And when he was arrested, he was in possession of a gun that was ballistically linked to the bullet that killed Tristan.

His trial is still ongoing because Rauda keeps firing his defense attorneys, which delays the trial. While Rauda has said he’s innocent, he didn’t do this, his behavior in court so far has not made him look any more innocent. He has been so violent and erratic during the initial court proceedings that when he goes into court, they have to strap his wrists and his legs into a chair and put what’s called a spit hood over his head, which prevents him from spitting on people and biting people.

Anthony Rauda
Anthony Rauda

Assuming he was the shooter, that he was responsible for shooting Tristan, which most people believe he was, and there really is an enormous amount of evidence that supports this, but again, his trial is still ongoing. But if we assume he was the shooter, the theory is it was completely random.

He did not know Tristan. He basically just fired his gun either intentionally into the tent or recklessly, and he just happened to fire into the tent. But either way, one of his bullets struck Tristan in the head and killed him, meaning Tristan Beaudette was literally just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Tristan Beaudette's Tent & Campsite as Police Process The Scene
Tristan Beaudette’s Tent & Campsite as Police Process The Scene

And if this case wasn’t heartbreaking enough, one more distressing detail is that this shooting was not the first shooting in or around this campground. In the year leading up to Tristan’s death, there were an astounding six other shootings, two of which happened literally in the campground right where Tristan was killed.

Previous Shooting Victim's Car
Previous Shooting Victim’s Car

Now, none of these other shootings were fatal, but in all six cases, the shooter or shooters were never caught. And the Malibu police just kind of didn’t investigate. It wasn’t until Tristan Beaudette got shot and killed in this campground that the stories of all these other shootings that never got solved came out.

People are looking on a map saying, “Wait a minute, there’s all these shootings unsolved with a rogue shooter or shooters out and about right here, right over this campground, and we haven’t shut down the campground, and we haven’t told the public that there’s potentially an uncaught shooter roaming around this campground. Why is that?” Now, the answers to those questions, we don’t know.

Real Map of The 6 Shootings At Or Near Malibu Creek State Park
Real Map of The 6 Shootings At Or Near Malibu Creek State Park

But they will likely come out during Anthony Rauda’s trial, where he’s being charged not only with killing Tristan but also for all of those other shootings. In the meantime, Erica has filed a 90 million lawsuit against several agencies, saying that her husband had no idea there was this threat of an uncaught shooter at that campground, and had authorities put any sort of warning up, Tristan Beaudette never would have taken his kids inside of that park, and he would be alive today. Her lawsuit is still ongoing.

Anthony Rauda
Anthony Rauda

Update: Man convicted of 2018 Malibu Creek murder sentenced

Anthony Rauda was sentenced to 119 years to life in prison after he was found guilty of second degree murder, attempted murder and burglary. Rauda shot and killed Tristan Beaudette on June 22, 2018, while Beaudette camped with his daughters.

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