Jailed Ventura County Plumber Charged in 2nd Killing After Client Dies From Fentanyl

Jailed Ventura County Plumber Charged in 2nd Killing After Client Dies From Fentanyl

Rotherie Durell Foster, 38, of Camarillo. (Ventura County Sheriff's Office)

Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin

5/23/2024

Updated: 5/23/2024

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A Ventura County plumber currently jailed on suspicion of murder faces more charges in a second homicide after investigators discovered evidence suggesting he poisoned an elderly client with fentanyl before stealing his identity and money.
Rotherie Durell Foster, 38, of Camarillo was charged May 20 on suspicion of murdering Bill Dean Levy, 72, and stealing his identity on Jan. 10, 2022, according to District Attorney Erik Nasarenko and Ventura County Sheriff James Fryhoff.
Mr. Foster, who has been in jail since January 2023, is awaiting trial on other charges related to the death of Camarillo plumber Antonio Velasquez, 35, who went missing in July 2022. His body was found three months later by hikers in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Investigators say Mr. Foster allegedly murdered the plumber for financial gain, the district attorney’s office said.
While combing through Mr. Velasquez’s bank records, investigators uncovered the victim in the second murder, who was a frequent client of Mr. Foster’s.
“The district attorney team noticed several online mobile transactions from a Bill Levy into the defendant’s bank account,” Mr. Nasarenko, the district attorney, said at a news conference Wednesday. “They also noticed a check for several thousand dollars drawn on Mr. Levy’s account deposited into the defendant’s bank account.”
A neighbor had called police the day of Mr. Levy’s death and asked if they could check on him. A former bookkeeper, Mr. Levy lived alone and kept a rigid schedule about his daily routines, Sheriff Fryhoff said Wednesday.
Mr. Levy was found dead in his bed and there was no evidence his death was suspicious, the sheriff said.
The district attorney’s investigation showed suspected fraudulent transactions on Mr. Levy’s account started the day after his death, according to the district attorney.
The county’s medical examiner first ruled Mr. Levy died of natural causes—specifically hypertension and cardiopulmonary arrest—and did not perform an autopsy.
But after being notified of possibly suspicious activity, county officials exhumed Mr. Levy’s body to conduct one. The results showed he had died of the effects of fentanyl and his death was then ruled a homicide.
Mr. Levy, who had also worked as a postal employee, grew up in the City of Westchester in Los Angeles County. He graduated from Westchester High School and was one of 10 siblings, the district attorney said. He lived alone and donated his entire estate to the City of Hope, the American Heart Association, a children’s hospital, and Delta Animal Rescue.
The district attorney called the case “almost unprecedented.”
“We have alleged in the criminal complaint this was a murder done for financial gain,” Mr. Nasarenko said.
As the investigation into Mr. Foster continued, the district attorney’s office identified other possible crimes and more victims.
In January 2021, bank records belonging to a third plumbing client who lived in the San Fernando Valley showed checks were drawn on his account and deposited into Mr. Foster’s bank, the district attorney said.
Mr. Foster is also suspected of being tied to a convenience store robbery on July 4, 2022, in Fillmore, Calif. The district attorney said he anticipates evidence will show that Mr. Foster entered the store early that morning and had a gun.
He allegedly bound employees and took money, the district attorney claimed.
“We anticipate the evidence will show that due to license plate information and cell phone data, Mr. Foster is the suspect in those alleged crimes,” Mr. Nasarenko said.
With the additional charges, Mr. Foster faces 33 felony charges with over 100 special allegations connected to the two murders, according to the district attorney.
The charges include first-degree murder, murder in commission of burglary, forgery, identity theft, grand theft, and intentional and deliberate administration of a poison.
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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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