Desert Hot Springs, CA
The family of a man who was found dead inside his home in Desert Hot Springs last week is still shaken up after finding an unknown person in the home the next day.
The family has identified the beloved ice cream vendor as 60-year-old Jose Luis Velasco. His body was found Thursday night with obvious signs of trauma to the head.
The next day, Velasco’s family and a crime scene restoration team went back to the home the next day to clean up. When they arrived, they saw four people walking out of the home where Velasco’s body was found the day before.
The family and the restoration team went inside to investigate but they quickly realized they were not alone.
"At night when they came and apparently they did see people in the home. And they escaped before the police could have gotten them," said Teresa Ortega, Velasco’s niece.
"My co-worker noticed in the slit of the door that there was an actual closet door opening and closing. And he had a head light on. So the headlight actually showed a pair of eyes. And that’s when we all bolted," said Samantha Riva, manager of Miller Trauma Scene Restoration, the cleaning company charged with cleaning up the home.
According to Velasco’s family, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene about a half hour after they made the call for help.
The family said they have no idea who might be responsible for Velasco’s death or who might have been inside the house Friday night.
"It seems like right now, that somebody came in the house to rob him. Unfortunately he was home and, well, this happened to him," said Ortega.
They did say that Velasco was robbed at gunpoint the same week he was murdered. Family members and neighbors say Velasco’s schizophrenic son lived with him before his death. So far, the family has not heard from Velasco’s son.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has not released and any new information regarding the murder or any possible suspects.
It is unknown at this time if the people seen leaving the home had anything to do with Velasco’s death.
Velasco was a well known ice cream vendor in the neighborhood where he lived. His family says he would often give free candy to children after selling them ice cream.
"It’s been very hard. It’s been very shocking. I still can’t believe it, My uncle was one of the nicest people ever. Always smiling. And it’s just very hard to believe that he’s not here anymore," said Ortega.
The family is hoping to raise enough funds to pay for his funeral and burial costs by holding a fundraiser at Velasco’s home at 16280 Via Corto West in Desert Hot Springs. A link to the GoFundMe page can be found here.