Murder in the Hollywood Hills

NBC News

Kristi Johnson was shopping at a mall in Los Angeles when a man invited her to a photo shoot for the next Bond film. That afternoon, the 21-year-old got into her little white sportscar and drove to the shoot location up in the Hollywood Hills. She was never seen alive again. In Dateline’s latest podcast, Keith Morrison takes us to the city of dreams for the story of a smooth-talking predator who lured young women into a nightmare with promises of fame and fortune. It’s the story of how he evaded justice for years. But most of all, it’s the story of a group of women who banded together to lock him up for good. Beginning Tuesday, March 26th you can listen to the latest episodes of Murder in the Hollywood Hills, completely free. To begin listening now, subscribe to Dateline Premium on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. read less

Our Editor's Take

Murder in the Hollywood Hills is a limited-episode true crime podcast. The host of the show is Keith Morrison. He has worked as the anchor for Dateline since 1995. Morrison also hosts other Dateline-produced true crime programs like Mortal Sin and Murder in Apt. 12.

The podcast takes listeners back to February 2003. Aspiring actress Kristi Johnson is at the mall, talking to her mother on the phone. She's on her way to discuss a role as a Bond girl, she explains. The man Kristi is meeting wants her to wear a specific outfit. After she and her mother say goodbye, Kristi gets into her car and drives to her appointment in the Hollywood Hills. This is the last time anyone will see her alive--except for her killer.

It's been days since Kristi's disappearance and police still seem stymied. Other than knowing she was meeting someone who promised her a role as a Bond girl, they have little to go on. They set up a tip line for the public. Soon, a young woman comes forward. Susan Murphy was at the same mall when a man approached her, promising her a role as a Bond girl. The man had even told her to wear the same outfit as the one Kristi bought. Then, other women come forward with similar stories. Together, they create a sketch of the man who approached them all and share it with local news outlets.

Upon seeing the sketch, a parole officer thinks he knows who it is. Victor Paleologus is one of his parolees. He just finished serving a five-year sentence for assault with intent to commit rape.

What follows is the saga of the women who fought for justice for Kristi and themselves. Morrison details their courage and tenacity. They wanted to make sure Paleologus would never harm another young woman. Morrison describes the courtroom deals, Paleologus' legal maneuvers, and the final outcome.

Murder in the Hollywood Hills is long-form true crime at its finest. Morrison is a veteran of the genre. He tells a compelling story while remaining respectful toward the victims.

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Season 2

Season 1