A 38-year-old Camarillo man was charged in the killing of a Honduran immigrant after police learned he was using the dead man’s debit card, according to Ventura County officials.
Rotherie Durell Foster was charged Wednesday with the murder of 35-year-old José Antonio Velásquez, who was last seen July 27 and reported missing three days later, according to the Ventura County district attorney’s office.
Foster was arrested in August on fraud charges when investigators learned that after Velásquez was reported missing, Foster used Velásquez’s debit card and checking account at gas stations, retail businesses and a deli in Los Angeles County. Hikers discovered Velásquez’s body in October off Mulholland Drive in the Santa Monica Mountains, according to prosecutors. He had been shot multiple times.
Prosecutors say the murder was carried out for financial gain.
For the record:
9:00 p.m. Jan. 19, 2023A previous version of this story said Rotherie Foster served 21 years in prison for a voluntary manslaughter charge in 2000 and a later assault charge. He served 16 years in prison after being sentenced for manslaughter in 2002 and assault in 2004, and he was released on parole in 2018.
Around the time of the killing, Foster was arrested as a felon in possession of a 9-millimeter handgun, Ventura Dist. Atty. Erik Nasarenko announced during a news conference. Foster previously served 16 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter and assault, authorities said.
Velásquez and Foster worked as plumbers in Ventura County and knew each other. Initially, Velásquez was reported as a missing person, but then investigators learned about the unauthorized use of his debit card and checking account.
Velásquez, a native of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, settled in Simi Valley in 2016, where he also worked as a plumber. In October 2021, he obtained his general contractor’s license and eventually moved into his own apartment in Camarillo.
He was reported missing after not answering his phone, according to family members who spoke with The Times. His last known location was near Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks on July 27, where he met with some friends for beer.
Authorities found Velásquez’s work van Aug. 1, about four miles from Janss Marketplace.
Family and friends had held several vigils for Velásquez, who had left Honduras when he was 15 and was a recipient of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The afternoon he went missing, Velásquez spoke on the phone with his mother, Rita Maldonado, who lives in Virginia. He had just moved into his Camarillo apartment, Maldonado said. He told his mother he was happy and doing well, and that work was keeping him busy.
“This has been my dream, I found it,” Maldonado said her son told her.
In 2002, Foster was sentenced to 16 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter when he was a juvenile, according to prosecutors. He was sentenced again in 2004 for two counts of assault, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, but in 2018, he was released on parole supervision and in November 2020 was discharged from parole after serving his sentence.
Foster was charged with 11 counts on Wednesday, including murder with a special circumstance, being a felon in possession of a firearm, seven counts of identity theft and two counts of forgery.
“This was a person with a promising and a bright future,” Nasarenko said of Velásquez.
Foster will be arraigned Feb. 17 and prosecutors will ask that no bail be granted.
Times staff writers Soudi Jiménez and Alexandra Petri contributed to this story.