Police found 60-year-old Army veteran Carlos Cruz-Echevarria face down with multiple bullets in his head in a ditch near his home last Veteran’s Day. Near his dead body was a truck stuck in the mud. Later the cops would find his torched truck several miles down the road. To investigators, it seemed like a futile random robbery turned fatal. However, after a year-long investigation, it was discovered to be premeditated.
Cruz-Echevarria was set to testify in a road rage case. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Department have arrested two men and a woman linked to the case in what they are calling it a “murder-for-hire plot to keep Cruz-Echevarria quiet.” The three have been charged with first-degree murder, and the death penalty is not off the table, according to a statement made by Sheriff Michael Chitwood.
“This is one of the most heinous, despicable, cowardly acts that I’ve ever witnessed,” Mr. Chitwood said. “Somebody’s gonna pay the ultimate price.”
The egregious plot was created six months prior to its execution. This all spawned from a road rage incident between Cruz-Echevarria and one of the accomplices. In May 2017 Cruz-Echevarria honked at a car in front of him as it idled at a green light. The other driver, Kelsey McFoley, 28, pulled up alongside Cruz-Echevarria at the next intersection and flaunted a gun. Investigators said at the news conference that Cruz-Echevarria managed to write down the car’s license plate number and later picked McFoley out of a lineup.
Sheriff Chitwood described Foley, who possess an extensive criminal record, as a “thug of thugs.” The road rage incident caused McFoley to be charged with aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. He was scheduled for trial December 2017. In an attempt avoid prison, McFoley hired Benjamin Bascom, 24, to execute Cruz-Echevarria. Bascom had a reputation as a murderer. The 24-year-old was tied to multiple open murder cases in Orange County, Florida.
Bascom then plotted the murder with 21-year-old Melissa Rios Roque, who was believed to be carrying McFoley’s child. Her job was to stalk Cruz-Echevarria and assist Bascom with escaping after he murdered the Army veteran. McFoley retrieved Cruz-Echevarria’s home address from court documents related to the road rage case. Bascom then purchased a stolen car and began stalking the victim. He drove around Cruz-Echevarria’s Daytona Beach neighborhood and staked out the area.
Bascom realized Cruz-Echevarria was not home so he continued to loiter the area. Bascom eventually got stuck in a muddy ditch while trying to turn his stolen vehicle around. In a bizarre sequence of events and unfortunate stroke of fate, Cruz-Echevarria discovered the distressed accomplice. Unbeknownst to either of them, the 60-year-old army-veteran pulled over to assist his murderer. Investigators say as Cruz-Echevarria bent down to look at the truck, he was shot multiple times in the head.
“The stars aligned unfortunately,” Sheriff Chitwood said during the news conference. “He didn’t even see it coming.”
The charges were dropped on McFoley for the road rage case. For months investigators searched to find Cruz-Echevarria’s executioner. Then DNA evidence came back and Bascom was tied to the stolen car and the torched truck.
All three co-conspirators were then arrested in different parts of the state. Bascom was caught trying to flee at Orlando International Airport.
Sheriff Chitwood says he hopes all three defendants receive the death penalty. “A road rage incident where a man does what he’s supposed to do: notify the police, cooperate with the system, and his thanks was to end up with multiple bullets in his head,” he said.
Assistant State Attorney Ryan Will said the prosecutors will speak with the victim’s family to find out their wishes moving forward and decide whether or not capital punishment is a possibility.