March 6, 2023 | By: Carson Rich

This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and the University of North Florida, Applied Journalism class.

One night changed the course of one family forever when a 21-year-old California student was murdered in March 1994.

Eric Velasquez was born in Trinidad, Colorado, the second son in his family. An outgoing young man who loved his family. In elementary school he played flute in the band, played baseball, track, and achieved many academic awards for Science, English, and Math. In his high school years, he also excelled academically. His senior year he obtained honor roll twice and won the student body award. He was chosen for the prestigious Bank of America achievement award in Art. In his free time, he enjoyed reading, drawing, painting, and sports.

Eric’s outgoing characteristics really shined throughout his life, helping him adjust as his family moved around, due to his father’s job, from Colorado to California during his childhood.

“The changes that we made when moving around didn’t really affect him too much because he was always able to make a lot of friends wherever he went,” his mother, Susan Ventura, said.

He always wanted to do everything on his own, and he showed this at a young age when he taught himself how to fish and surf.

While in High School he got a part time job working for Jenny Craig and after Graduation he decided to pursue a degree in business at Santa Barbara City College in California. Eric had dreams of one day going to law school. After leaving his second semester of college due to financial reasons he eventually moved back home to Ventura, California. He helped take care of his two younger brothers while taking on a part time job as a salesman for the Ventura Los Angeles Times.

After visiting with friends one weekend, tragedy struck.

While driving back home from La Puente, where he visited his girlfriend that weekend, attending a family gathering. On that Sunday night Eric was taking his two friends back home. When they passed a house, they noticed a car outside that they had an earlier confrontation with. They stopped at the home and one of Eric’s friends got out of the car and broke the car window. They got back into the car and headed back to his friend’s apartment to drop them off.

Back at the apartment words were exchanged and tensions rose after the car window had been broken. The police showed up to settle the dispute and after officers left the scene. Eric and his friend went inside, had something to eat and after some time Eric walked back out to his car to head home. The unknown suspect who police think were waiting outside, still upset about the broken window then shot Eric in the chest while he was getting back into his car in the carport.

His tragic death took a major toll on his entire family.

“His killer really destroyed everything he was going to be. He was going to be something great,” his mother said, reflecting on what his future should have looked like.

The family has continued to struggle with their loss, falling in and out of depression, and trying to find out everything they could about who murdered their family member.

While information has been hard to come by, the family has one new hope: Late last year, Velasquez’s Mom worked hard to seek reward money when she reached out to the Governor of California. His case was granted a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Eric was generous beyond his death. The Coastal Community eye bank of California acknowledged Eric’s family’s thoughtfulness with his generous gift. The generous act of Cornea donation. Two people received corneal transplants and did very well post- operatively. The people who received the Corneal donations have restored their active lives within their communities.

Eric was an outstanding son and was very well liked by his peers, was friendly, happy, generous, outgoing, and loved by so many. He was always the one who wanted to keep the peace. He did not deserve to be killed like this. He was going to be something great; he was always a go getter. He always wanted to be the best.

Anyone with information on the unsolved murder of Eric Velasquez is asked to call Santa Paula Police Detective S. Virani at 805-525-4474. The Governor of California announced in 2022 that any information leading to the arrest and conviction in Eric’s case, as well as 3 other unsolved murders, would be eligible for a $50,000 reward. The victim’s family has also offered a $1,000 reward and additional rewards are offered by Crime Stoppers and We-Tip.

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If you have a loved one that is the victim of an unsolved homicide, please submit their case here for consideration in a future Cold Case Spotlight post.

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