Plumber Poisoned Client With Fentanyl And Stole From Him: DA

After a plumber was charged with shooting a co-worker, investigators linked him to the death of a Granada Hills customer several months earlier.

May 25, 2024, 12:37 a.m. PDT

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA — A plumber arrested for the murder of his co-worker in Agoura Hills is now suspected of poisoning a customer in Granada Hills months earlier and making it look like he died of natural causes, the Ventura County District Attorney's Office announced this week.

It was the shooting death of Jose Velasquez in July 2022 that prompted police to reinvestigate the death of 72-year-old Bill Dean Levy. Levy died of suspected natural causes in his Granada Hills home earlier this year, but investigators recently exhumed his body and medical examiners determined he died of fentanyl poisoning, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

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Now, 38-year-old Rotherie Durell Foster is suspected of killing both men. The motive, according to investigators, was money. Foster faces 33 charges, including first-degree murder, murder during the commission of a burglary, forgery, identity theft and willful and knowing administration of a poison with more than 100 special charges, according to Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko.

Foster was previously in prison for manslaughter.

But he was out of prison and working as a plumber when his co-worker Velasquez disappeared in July 2022. On October 3, 2022, Velasquez's body was found in the 2600 block of April Road in the Santa Monica Mountains in Agoura Hills, according to the Los Angeles County coroner. In late October, authorities determined his death was a homicide and that he had been shot multiple times.

“Jose was an incredibly hard-working man who had just opened his own plumbing business when his life was cut short in a brutal and cruel way,” Nasarenko said.

Velasquez graduated from Mountain View High School in Virginia and saved money to help his parents buy a home in Virginia, Nasarenko said.

“He was a man with a promising and bright future who aspired to a career as a general contractor. According to his mother, he was supposed to specialize in remodeling, painting, electrical and plumbing work,” Nasarenko added.

When investigators combed through Foster's financial records, “they saw a number of suspicious, disturbing and alarming transactions,” Nasarenko said. Investigators said they were payments from Levy that were made at the same time as his death.

“They learned that Bill Levy had died of natural causes on January 10, 2022,” Nasarenko said. “That was alarming and disturbing because the allegedly fraudulent transactions they saw were initiated the day after.”

According to investigators, Foster had done plumbing work for Levy on several occasions.

“Foster worked as a plumber for several companies before he was arrested for the death of Mr. Velasquez,” said a written statement from Nasarenko's office. “Investigators believe he used his plumbing business to identify potential victims for his crimes.”

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