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Who killed Kristi Johnson? Aspiring actor gets tricked by molester disguised as producer

Victor Paleologus’s intentions were sinister, and he ultimately took Kristi Johnson’s life, tragically ending her aspirations and dreams

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Victor Lawrence Paleologus was responsible for the murder of Kristi Johnson. He lured Kristi under the false pretense of a film audition, however, Paleologus’s intentions were sinister, and he ultimately took Kristi’s life, tragically ending her aspirations and dreams.


In the bustling streets of Los Angeles, dreams of stardom often collide with the harsh realities of life, none more tragically than in the case of Kristine “Kristi” Johnson. A 21-year-old aspiring actress from Michigan, Kristi ventured to Southern California with hopes of making it big in Hollywood’s glittering landscape.


However, her promising journey took a dark and devastating turn when she vanished without a trace after being lured by a cunning predator promising fame and fortune. What started as an innocent pursuit of a film audition swiftly transformed into a nightmare, as Kristi’s disappearance sent shockwaves through the city and left her loved ones grasping for answers.

Kristi’s case will be covered in ‘Dateline NBC’ Season 32 Episode 43, this coming Friday at 9 PM ET.

Who was Kristi Johnson?

Kristine “Kristi” Johnson was a 21-year-old woman who had recently moved from Michigan to Southern California with dreams of pursuing a career in the film industry. Described as conscientious and ambitious, Kristi was determined to make her mark in Hollywood.

Unfortunately, Kristi’s life took a tragic turn when she disappeared on February 15, 2003. She had been lured by a man who claimed to be a film producer offering her an audition for a role in a James Bond sequel. The promise of a potential six-figure paycheck was too tempting for Kristi to resist.

Despite her cautious nature, Kristi went to meet the supposed producer at a location near the Century City mall in Los Angeles. However, she never returned, and her family and friends became increasingly worried about her safety.

The subsequent investigation revealed that no new Bond film was in production, raising suspicions about the legitimacy of the audition offer. Detectives combed through surveillance footage and interviewed witnesses in a desperate attempt to find Kristi.

Tragically, Kristi’s body was discovered in the Hollywood Hills ravine on March 3, 2003. She had been strangled, and the medical examiner determined that she had been deceased for about 16 days before the discovery of her body.

Kristi was killed by Victor (@NBC)
Kristi was killed by Victor Paleologus (@nbc)

How did Kristi Johnson meet Victor Lawrence Paleologus?

Kristine “Kristi” Johnson met Victor Lawrence Paleologus through a deceptive scheme orchestrated by Paleologus himself. Paleologus, posing as a film producer, approached Kristi at the Century City mall in Los Angeles. He promised her an audition for a role in a James Bond sequel, enticing her with the possibility of a lucrative paycheck.

Using the allure of Hollywood fame and fortune, Paleologus convinced Kristi to meet him at a location near the mall under the guise of audition preparations. He instructed Kristi to wear specific attire—a white blouse, black miniskirt, nylons, and stiletto heels—further convincing her of the legitimacy of the audition opportunity.


Kristi, eager to pursue her dreams in the film industry, agreed to the meeting, unaware of Paleologus’s sinister intentions. However, instead of fulfilling his promises, Paleologus had planned to lure Kristi into a trap. This chance encounter ultimately led to Kristi’s tragic disappearance and murder.

When was Kristi Johnson’s missing body found?

Kristi Johnson’s body was found on March 3, 2003. She had been missing since February 15, 2003, after being lured by Victor Lawrence Paleologus under false pretenses of a film audition. Her disappearance sparked a frantic search by law enforcement and her loved ones, but it wasn’t until nearly three weeks later that hikers discovered her body in a ravine in the Hollywood Hills.

The discovery of Kristi’s body brought a tragic end to the search for her and confirmed the worst fears of her family and friends. The medical examiner determined that Kristi had been deceased for approximately 16 days before her body was found. The details surrounding her death, including the cause of death being strangulation, further intensified the sorrow and shock felt by those who knew her.

Victor Lawrence Paleologus pled guilty in 2006 for killing Kristi Johnson

Victor Lawrence Paleologus pleaded guilty to killing Kristi Johnson in 2006, admitting his responsibility for her tragic death. Prior to his guilty plea, Paleologus had been charged with first-degree murder in connection with Kristi’s murder, and the case against him was built upon compelling evidence gathered by law enforcement

Throughout the legal proceedings, Paleologus’s defense team negotiated with the prosecution, ultimately reaching a plea agreement. As part of this agreement, Paleologus confessed to his role in Kristi’s murder, acknowledging the gravity of his actions and sparing the court from a lengthy trial.

By pleading guilty, Paleologus avoided the possibility of facing the death penalty, as the prosecution agreed to remove this option from consideration in exchange for his admission of guilt. Instead, he faced sentencing for the crime of which he had been accused.

Victor Lawrence Paleologus imprisoned for 25 years

Victor Lawrence Paleologus was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison for his role in the murder of Kristi Johnson. After pleading guilty to the crime, Paleologus faced sentencing, where the court determined the appropriate punishment for his actions.

The 25-year sentence meant that Paleologus would spend at least two and a half decades behind bars before becoming eligible for parole consideration.


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