SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A Virginia man has been charged with the special circumstances murder for financial gain of an elderly Arizona investor after allegedly luring the victim out to sea from the Dana Point Harbor, officials said Friday.
Orange County Sheriff's investigators issued the murder warrant for 44-year-old Gary Shawkey -- a self-described investment guru. He is currently in a Virginia jail where he was initially arrested for passing a bad check.
According to the Orange County District Attorney's office, in February 2008, 71-year-old Robert Vendrick became reluctant to invest more money with Shawkey. Vendrick, from Phoenix, and his brother had deposited tens of thousands of dollars into Shawkey's bank account as seed money.
"The defendant is accused of convincing (Vendrick) to invest in a new venture involving the development of 'top secret computer software' for the federal government. The defendant is accused of convincing the victim to wire $100,000 to a bank account and telling the victim to fly to Orange County to meet with federal agents to finalize the project," according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.
"When the defendant and the victim arrived in Orange County, the defendant is accused of buying a boat and convincing the victim to sail to San Clemente Island to meet with 'federal agents.' Shawkey and Vendrick got on the boat and sailed out of Dana Point Harbor, and the victim was never seen again," according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.
Investigators say Shawkey faces one count of murder with special circumstances.
Shawkey, who is also a motivational speaker, claims he spent the last year searching for Vendrick from Mexico to Florida.
Detectives say several items were missing from the boat when it was discovered in a Long Beach Harbor, including the motor, the anchor and some rope.
The Orange County District Attorney's office said Friday it has requested that Shawkey be extradited to Orange County to face charges. There are no California court dates set at this time. If convicted, Shawkey could be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.