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A Marine consultant has been charged with slaying his...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- A Marine consultant has been charged with slaying his wife and 8-year-old stepson off Santa Cruz Island last January and trying to cover it up as a boating accident.

Frederick George Roehler II, 38, was arrested Friday at his Malibu home, a Santa Barbara sheriff's spokesman said. He is accused of murdering his wife Verna-Jo, 36, and her son, Douglas Johnson.

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Roehler, a consultant to the Marine Corps at its Point Mugu base, told investigators they were in a small dory going from their sailboat 'Perserverance' to Santa Cruz Island when their dog jumped overboard. He said the dory capsized and sent all three occupants into the water.

Roehler told officers that by the time other boats in the area became aware of the difficulty and responded, Mrs. Roehler and the boy had drowned.

Officers said that a pathologist later discovered the boy had been hit on the head with enough force to knock him unconscious and cause brain damage and that the blows occurred before death.

Capt. James Vizzolini said the Santa Barbara Sheriffs Department was investigating the deaths because, 'we just felt that it couldn't have occurred the way he (Roehler) said it did.'

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Mrs. Roehler was heavily insured, Vissolini said, but declined to state that was the motive for the alleged murders. Roehler was the beneficiary of his wife's $700,000 life insurance policy, court documents say.

The death of Roehler's first wife also occurred under mysterious circumstances.

Jean Roehler was found face down in a hot tub by Roehler at their Malibu home Oct. 15, 1976, authorities said. The woman later died of pneumonia.

Court documents indicate Roehler told investigators that he and his wife were in the tub. He said he left briefly to get some wine and returned to find her face down. She died a week later of pneumonia.

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