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Man charged in murder of plumber whose body was found in California mountains

Mar 30, 2023Mar 30, 2023

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A California man has been arrested and charged with murder, four months after hikers discovered the bullet-riddled remains of a plumber who had been reported missing in July.

Rotherie Foster, 37, is accused of killing Jose Velasquez, 35, his work acquaintance, for financial gain, according to a news release from the office of Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko.

He has also been charged with eight counts of identity theft, two counts of forgery, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and is facing several prior strike charges.

Los Angeles Times previously reported that Velasquez moved to California from his native Honduras in 2016 and made a living as a plumber in Simi Valley. He obtained his general contractor's license in 2021 and relocated to Camarillo.

Velasquez was last seen alive on July 27, 2022, after telling his family that he was going out for drinks with some friends in Thousand Oaks. He was reported missing three days later.

His work van was recovered four miles from the Janss Marketplace shopping center on Aug. 1, but there was no sign of Velasquez.

On Oct. 3, a husband and wife found the missing plumber's remains while hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains off Mulholland Highway.

Velasquez's bullet-riddled body was wrapped in a tarp that was secured with a bungee cord, The Acorn reported.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office determined Velasquez's cause of death to be multiple gunshot wounds.

"Jose was an incredibly hard worker who was starting his own plumbing business when his life was viciously and cruelly cut short," said Nasarenko.

Foster was arrested Friday in connection with Velasquez's murder, but he's been in jail since mid-August when he was picked up on identity theft charges, some of which were dismissed in November.

He was then immediately re-arrested on weapons charges after investigators said they found a loaded handgun with a high-capacity magazine inside his car.

Foster is being held on $2 million bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon at the Ventura County Superior Court.