Human remains found in Santa Monica Mountains identified as missing Ventura County man

Human remains found in the Santa Monica Mountains earlier this month belonged to a Ventura County man who went missing over the summer, authorities said.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office identified the man as José Antonio Velásquez, 35, from Camarillo. Velásquez was reported missing July 30 after disappearing under suspicious circumstances, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said.

According to a report from the sheriff’s office, hikers discovered the remains on Oct. 3. The remains were identified on Friday, the report said. The cause of death is under investigation and pending autopsy results from the L.A. County coroner’s office.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau is investigating the case.

Velásquez, a native of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, settled in Simi Valley in 2016, where he worked as a plumber. In October 2021, he obtained his general contractor’s license and eventually moved into his own apartment in Camarillo.

Velásquez was reported missing on July 30 after not answering his phone, according to family who spoke with The Times. His last known location was near Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks on July 27, when he met with some friends for beer before they got in their cars and headed toward Velásquez’s home.

Authorities found Velásquez’s work van on Aug. 1, about four miles from Janss Marketplace.

Family and friends had held several vigils for Velásquez, who left Honduras when he was 15 and was a benefactor of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The afternoon he went missing, Velásquez spoke with his mother, Rita Maldonado, who lives in Virginia, on the phone. 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.

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