Police investigate Homestead man's suspicious death

Firefighters find body of Eddie Velez, 32, during house fire

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Edward "Eddie" Velez Jr., a father of two boys who worked at the University of Miami, died in a house fire. He had just turned 32 in June and was healthy. His loved ones couldn't understand what caused the fire and why he didn't get out of the house alive. 

About 3:20 p.m., Thursday, Miami-Dade firefighters responded to the fire at 26222 SW 127 Place, in Homestead. Firefighters found Velez unresponsive and friends said there were several dogs dead.

Rescue airlifted him to Kendall Regional Trauma Center, where doctors pronounced him dead. The Miami-Dade Police Department's homicide unit detectives and Miami-Dade Fire were investigating the suspicious scene.

The many friends he made when he was a cadet of Homestead High School's Air Force Junior ROTC and a Florida International University student mourned the loss in social media. 

His friend Mike Mateo described him as attentive and kind. Selvin Maldonado said he was nothing but laughter and "positive vibes." Christopher Robinson said he was in Afghanistan when he learned of his friend's death. And there were things he didn't get to tell him. 

"Thank you Eddie for looking out at my grandmother's house and always bringing her joy when you would stop by," Robinson said in his Facebook post. 

Velez worked as a unit supervisor for Compass Group, a multinational contract food service, at the UM Coral Gables campus. Many of his co-workers said they were going to miss him. 

"He kept his team alive with his calm demeanor and positive attitude," Kary Lopez said. He was "a great man [and] a wonderful supervisor." 

Velez is survived by his two sons, his ex-wife Kathleen Truglio, his parents and his two brothers, Gabriel Velez and Eric Velez. 

Christina Prats, a friend and former co-worker at Cracker Barrel, set up a GoFundMe account to help the Velez family. 

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