Suspect in killings of 4 homeless men linked to other killings

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Itcoatl Ocampo is charged in four homeless men's deaths.

Story highlights

  • Itzcoatl Ocampo is being charged with a double homicide last year, police say
  • Ocampo, 23, is also accused of fatally stabbing four homeless men
  • A prosecutor calls the former Marine a "serious, vicious killer"
The suspect in the stabbing deaths of four homeless men in Southern California is also being charged in connection with a double homicide last year, police said Thursday.
"There is significant evidence" linking Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, with the crime, which took place last October 25 at a home in Yorba Linda, said Lt. Julian Harvey of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Authorities say the victims in that crime were stabbed to death. Another man, Eder Herrera, has been charged in connection with those murders. Police say that there is a connection between Ocampo and Herrera, but would not elaborate.
Ocampo, who was arrested on January 13 for the killings in Orange County, is being held without bail in the Orange County Jail and has a court hearing scheduled for February 17. Authorities say they are also looking into his relationship with other stabbing deaths in the area.
The former Marine remains jailed without bail. He is in a protective "suicide blanket," defense attorney Randall Longwith said last month.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has called Ocampo a "serious, vicious killer."
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"He appears to be lucid, calm, intelligent, somebody who knows what he's doing. And his acts are very intentional," Rackauckas said last month.
Describing his brief conversation with Ocampo, Longwith painted a different picture. "He looked at me. He answered when I asked him questions. It was a flat affect and a distant look in his eyes. ... He looked frightened in there, starry-eyed," Longwith said last month.
Ocampo faces four charges of first-degree murder. He was arrested after he allegedly stabbed a transient to death, Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn said.
Attached to the 1st Marine Logistics Group at Camp Pendleton, California, Ocampo was a corporal and a motor vehicle operator, serving in the Marines from July 2006 until July 2010, and was deployed to Iraq for six months in 2008, according to Marine service records. He received an Iraq campaign medal with one star, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and a National Defense Service Medal, records showed.
The arrest left those who know Ocampo confused.
The suspect's father, Refugio Ocampo, who is himself homeless, told the Orange County Register it was hard to believe his son could be involved in the killings.
"I saw him so many times giving the last money he had in his pocket ... to the homeless, to the people that (are) asking for some help. ... My son's always been a role model," Refugio Ocampo said in a video interview posted on the newspaper's website.
Norberto Martinez, a family friend who lives with the veteran's uncle, mother and two siblings in Yorba Linda, said family and friends were surprised to learn that Ocampo was a suspect in the slayings.
Martinez said he watched ballgames on television and went on walks with Ocampo, but avoided talking about the war because it upset the veteran.
"I wouldn't talk to him about Iraq," Martinez said. "Whenever he talked with me, he was normal."
The victims are James McGillivray, 50, who was killed December 20; Lloyd "Jimmy" Middaugh, 42, who died December 27; Paulus "Dutch" Smit, 57, killed on December 30; and John Berry, 64, who was stabbed to death January 13.