The death penalty will be sought against Yorba Linda 24-year-old Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo, the accused serial killer of four homeless men and a mother and grown son fatally stabbed between October 25 and January 13, prosecutors announced today.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas convened a panel of senior staff and veteran homicide prosecutors to go over the case before making the call to seek the ultimate punishment for the discharged Marine, according to his office.
The killing spree began with the October murders of Raquel Estrada, 53, who was stabbed more than 30 times in her upper body, and her 34-year-old son Juan Herrera, who was stabbed more than 60 times before their bodies were left on the floor of their Yorba Linda home.
Estrada's other son, Eder Herrera, was held for months on murder charges, but on Jan. 31 authorities matched DNA evidence from the crime scene to Ocampo, who was already in custody and had been friends with Eder Herrera in middle school and high school in Yorba Linda. Their homes were also blocks away from one another.
But Ocampo, who was discharged from the U.S. Marines in June 2010, had not yet been linked to that killing on Dec. 20, 2011, when James McGillivray was stabbed to death at his usual sleeping place, behind a commercial complex at 140 N. Bradford Ave., Placentia. After being struck several times in the head, the 53-year-old was stabbed more than 40 times in the head, neck, and upper torso. Surveillance video showed the homeless man was repeatedly stabbed even after he stopped moving.
After it was discovered 42-year-old Lloyd "Jimmy" Middaugh was murdered after being stabbed more than 50 times in the head and torso shortly before midnight on Dec. 27 at the 91 freeway underpass at the Santa Ana River Trail in Anaheim, police revealed they the stabbings of the two homeless men may be linked.
After another homeless man, 57-year-old Paulus "Dutch" Smit, was fatally stabbed--sustaining more than 60 wounds--the afternoon of Dec. 30 in a stairwell behind Yorba Linda Public Library, the FBI, Orange County Sheriff's Department and the police departments of Anaheim, Placentia and Brea formed the Homeless Homicide Investigative Task Force.
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Panic was already spreading among the homeless community the evening of Jan. 13, when 64-year-old John Berry was approached by a man in a hooded sweatshirt on La Palma Avenue in Anaheim and stabbed several times.
As Berry was dying, witnesses who had seen the attack chased the man in the hoodie running away on foot. He was followed to a nearby mobile home park, which prompted law enforcement to establish a perimeter. Ocampo was arrested shortly thereafter, and according to police he was wearing a dark hoodie and had blood on his hands and face.
Currently, Ocampo's jury trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 10 in Santa Ana.