Two days before Tomoko Hoetzlein’s body was found inside a dumpster outside the Camarillo apartment she shared with her son, David Hoetzlein, she declined to press charges against him after she said he stole her car and battered her, instead asking police to place the 25- year-old on a mental health hold, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
The 5150 legal code allows someone to be involuntarily detained for a 72-hour psychiatric hospitalization if, as a result of a mental disorder, they are a danger to themselves, a danger to others or gravely disabled.
Sgt. William Hutton with the sheriff’s major crimes bureau told the Acorn that deputies evaluated David Hoetzlein on June 1 and established that he did not meet the criteria for a 5150 commitment.
“Just because a mental health evaluation is requested, it doesn’t mean that a mental health hold would be placed if the criteria is not met,” the sergeant said.
And because his mother refused to press charges, Hutton said, deputies’ “hands were tied for making an arrest.”
“We encouraged her to press charges against him for the theft of her vehicle and for the battery, but she was adamant she did not want prosecution,” he said.
Police said David Hoetzlein later killed 62-year-old Tomoko Hoetzlein before dismembering her body and throwing it into the dumpster.
Her remains were discovered just before 7 am June 3. David Hoetzlein was arrested the same day.
Court documents submitted by Public Defender Claudia Bautista state that David Hoetzlein has a history of mental illness.
“Though the offense charged is serious, defense requests that the court consider the mental health circumstances that were present at the time of Mr. Hoetzlein’s arrest in considering detention,” the June 20 document states.
Before his arrest, Hoetzlein had recently been released from Vista del Mar Hospital, an acute psychiatric facility in Ventura where he had been receiving treatment, according to court records. He has taken and currently takes psychiatric medication, records show.
Hutton told the Acorn if prior mental health history existed, deputies would have had access to that information at the time of the June 1 mental health evaluation.
Hutton also said he could not disclose whether a mental health hold had been placed on Hoetzlein before.
After the June 1 incident, a Camarillo Police Department patrol supervisor encouraged Tomoko Hoetzlein to press charges against her son, Hutton said. She was told that if she pressed charges, he would receive mental health treatment in a custodial setting, but she again declined.
A deputy and a social worker attempted to contact David Hoetzlein at Las Positas Apartments on June 2, Hutton said, but he either was not home or did not answer the door.
Prosecutors said David Hoetzlein committed the homicide between the night of June 1 and the afternoon of June 2.
According to court records, David Hoetzlein battered Tomoko Hoetzlein June 2 after they had argued over a credit card balance he owed.
He admitted to choking his mother from behind and then panicked after she lost consciousness, according to court records.
“The defendant wrapped his arm around the victim’s neck from behind and strangled the life from her,” wrote prosecutors. “Instead of calling for help or seeking medical attention for the victim, he methodically and painstakingly carved his mother’s body into pieces, before disposing of her in a public trash receptacle.”
If it were not for the Memorial Day delay in trash pickup services, court records indicate, the remains would have been collected before they were discovered June 3.
According to court records, video surveillance provided to police by neighbors shows David Hoetzlein carrying trash bags, matching those found in the dumpster, from his apartment.
Police also found evidence that Hoetzlein dismembered his mother inside their apartment, according to court records.
Within a day of the homicide, David Hoetzlein listed some of his mother’s items for sale on Facebook Marketplace, including her cellphone and sunglasses, according to court documents.
Hoetzlein is being held at the Ventura County Main Jail. Though his bail di lui was initially set at $ 3 million, it was revoked.
His arraignment was continued for a second time, and he is now expected to enter a plea July 28.
If convicted of murder, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years to life in prison.