A former Marine accused
of brutally murdering middle-aged homeless men in Orange County as
well as the mother and brother of a high school friend was ordered to
be returned to court in September to stand trial.
Itzcoatl Ocampo, who was
indicted last month for the string of killings, appeared in court
Friday with a welt on his forehead, an injury his attorney said he
suffered when he banged his head against a toilet or bench in his jail
Ocampo's family wept when the 23-year-old was
brought into the courtroom and later told his defense attorney that
they were concerned about his declining weight.
Attorney Randall Longwith said his client has been
behaving erratically and complaining that he hears voices. He said his
client is suffering from tics and headaches.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Price said such erratic
behavior is not unusual for a person facing such serious charges, and
possibly the death penalty.
She said the claims about his behavior could be
related to the defense his attorney intends to mount.
"He's a very intelligent man who acted very
rationally during the course of the killings," Price said.
Longwith said Ocampo is definitely suffering from
mental illness. "I think his diagnosis is going to be pretty
extensive," he said.
Ocampo is accused of stabbing four homeless men to
death between Dec. 20 and Jan. 13. Prosecutors say each was stabbed
numerous times in the upper body, one victim more than 60 times.
About two weeks after his arrest in the homeless
killings, authorities said they had linked Ocampo to the Oct. 25
killings of Raquel Estrada and her son Juan Herrera.
Ocampo was ordered Friday to be return to court
Ocampo case: Documents show evidence seized in
Los Angeles Times
February 7, 2012
Police seized multiple cellphones, family
photographs, a Lotto ticket and "sorrowful writings" from the Yorba
Linda home where a mother and her older son were found dead Oct. 25,
according to a search warrant.
Itzcoatl Ocampo, who last month was accused of
murdering four homeless men, was charged on Monday with the fatal
stabbings of Raquel Estrada, 53, and Juan Herrera, 34.
Estrada’s son, Eder Herrera, 24, was originally
facing the murder charges but was released Friday night after
prosecutors discovered a DNA link between evidence collected from
Ocampo’s home and the Yorba Linda crime scene.
That night, at 11:29, officers responded to a 911
call coming from a pay phone about a mile away. According to the
affidavit, the caller was "male, spoke in a low volume," and said loud
noises were coming from the home.
The man hung up abruptly.
When officers arrived, they found a large amount of
blood at the threshold of the front door. There were drag marks
leading into the home. An officer walked around the home and into the
backyard. Looking through a window into the kitchen, he immediately
saw a female, later identified as Raquel Estrada, 53, lying on her
back, "with several puncture wounds" to her chest. "A bloody steak
knife was located approximately 3 feet from her head,” according to
the search warrant.
Another officer entered the home from a sliding
glass door and found Juan Herrera on his stomach "with several
puncture wounds to his back."
Police noticed "large amounts of blood throughout
On the kitchen table police saw a black ski mask,
black hat, wallet and sunglasses, according to the papers.
The sorrowful writings were found in Eder Herrera’s
bedroom during a search conducted Oct. 26. Police also collected his
tax return, a fitness membership card and various other items in the
room. In addition, police seized a white towel, kitchen knives, a CVS
receipt, cameras and computers from the home.
The search warrant also asked for information from
a Sprint cellphone number obtained from a rental application for the
home in Eder Herrera’s name.
If convicted, Ocampo faces life in prison without
parole. He is due in court March 16 to be arraigned on all six deaths.
Suspected O.C. serial killer kept knife
sharpener in bedroom
Los Angeles Times
January 25, 2012
dark clothing, a book titled "The Most Notorious Crimes in American
History," a medical marijuana letter and a knife sharpener from
suspected serial killer Itzcoatl Ocampo’s Yorba Linda home the day
after he was arrested in the stabbing deaths of four Orange County
homeless men, according to court documents obtained by The Times.
Meanwhile, dramatic details emerged Wednesday about
the scene outside a Carl's Jr. when the fourth victim was attacked and
the chase that ended with Ocampo's arrest.
Ocampo, 23, is charged with four counts of
special-circumstances murder in the homicides, and is subject to the
death penalty. Orange County District Atty. Tony Rackauckas said at a
news conference last week that Ocampo stalked his victims and had more
In a search warrant filed Jan. 20, investigators
found a Farberware knife sharpener in Ocampo's bedroom and various
pieces of dark clothing, as well as five black long-sleeved shirts.
Anaheim Police Det. Mark Lillemoen, in the warrant,
described each of the stabbings. The first occurred Dec. 20 in a
Placentia shopping center, where James McGillivray, 53, was stabbed
"numerous times as he was sleeping on the side of the business,"
according to the document.
Lillemoen said he reviewed surveillance video that
shows the suspect stabbing the victim with "a large, fixed-blade
knife" later identified by Rackauckas as a single-edged, 7-inch KA-BAR
Bull Dozer knife.
Police found the second victim, later identified as
Lloyd "Jim" Middaugh, 42, in a riverbed Dec. 28. According to the
affidavit, he also was sleeping at the time of the attack.
Lillemoen obtained surveillance video from a Bank
of America branch in Yorba Linda, near where Paulus Smit, 57, was
stabbed to death Dec. 30. In the video, a male dressed in a dark
beanie, a dark long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans, black shoes and
dark-colored gloves is seen walking in the direction of the crime
The detective also detailed the Jan. 13 stabbing of
John Barry, 64, behind a Carl's Jr. in a busy shopping center.
Lillemoen said he spoke to Donald Hopkins, 32, who
witnessed the incident. On Wednesday, officials and some residents
returned to the shopping center to honor Hopkins, who is a forklift
operator in a warehouse. He was rewarded with a $5,000 check and a
plaque from the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs for his role in
the suspect's capture.
Hopkins, a married father of two, was inside a
nearby CVS when a man ran into the store screaming for help.
Immediately, Hopkins dropped his groceries and ran outside. He said he
has never had a brush with the law, and no military experience either,
but still ran toward the scene.
"I wish I could explain it, but I can’t. I just
reacted," he said.
Hopkins said he had "tunnel vision" on the killer,
whose back was facing him. Hopkins said he started yelling over and
over, "Hey, stop!"
When Hopkins was about 15 feet away, Ocampo turned
his entire body, glanced at him and sprinted across the parking lot.
Hopkins ran after him.
"I never looked back," he said Wednesday.
His shaky hands attempted to dial 911 twice before
he had to stop in order to complete the call. He continued to chase
Ocampo and saw him shed a sweatshirt and gloves. Minutes later, police
arrived, and Hopkins pointed authorities in the direction Ocampo ran.
According to the affadavit, Hopkins told
investigators that he "approached the crowd and saw Ocampo stabbing a
male transient four to five times."
"It's crazy," Hopkins said, after accepting his
reward. "It's a lot to take in. I'm just happy we were able to catch
Investigators also obtained swabs of DNA from
Ocampo's bathroom shower drain and from the sink. On Jan. 14, they
obtained a cheek swab from Ocampo.
Various white T-shirts, blue and black jeans, black
dress pants, a toothbrush, a Dell computer, a black MEU Airsoft pistol
-- commonly used for paintball games -- and Caterpillar boots and
white socks, among other items, also were taken into evidence.
Before he went to Iraq he was a caring man who
helped the homeless. Today the same Marine vet is set to face charges
of stabbing four homeless men to death
Murder charges to be filed today against Itzcoati
Family said deployment in Iraq 'killed the man he
used to be'
Before arrest, was known to dedicate his life to
DailyMail.co.ukBy Daily Mail Reporter
17 January 2012
Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, is the primary suspect in the
deaths of four homeless men in Southern California. His father said
his son came back a changed man after serving in IraqAs prosecutors
prepare to file murder charges against a Marine veteran in the
stabbing of four homeless men, it has emerged that Itzcoati Ocampo was
once a caring, charitable man until the horrors of Iraq 'killed the
person he was'.
The 23-year-old was arrested on Friday after being
chased down by a group of bystanders following the brutal stabbing of
Vietnam veteran John Berry outside an Orange County fast food
restaurant - the fourth vicious stabbing in as many weeks.
As Ocampo is held on psychological watch at the
Orange County jail in Santa Ana, his family and friends have revealed
the ex-Marine was once a caring man who helped the very people he is
accused of murdering.'
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,' his father
Refugio Ocampo said in a video interview posted on Orange County
His son is now accused in the stabbing deaths of
James Patrick McGillivray, 53, who was killed in Placentia on December
20, Lloyd Middaugh, 42, who was found in Anaheim on December 28,
Paulus Smit, 57, who was found in Yorba Linda two days later and
recently John Berry, 64, who was stabbed to death in Anaheim on
It was only when he returned from serving in Iraq -
where he was assigned to meet and inspect the wounded when they were
flown in from combat zones en route to the hospital - that he starting
showing a darker side, became paranoid and delusional and struggled to
find his way as a civilian.
Ocampo's father Refugio Ocampo, 49, said his son
was a changed man after his deployment to the war zone in 2008.
'They killed the person he was. And that's the only
possibility I can think of that he would do something like that.'
His brother Mixcoatl Ocampo, 17, told the LA Times
his brother sank into a depression and often suffered from
He said: 'He was always paranoid. He would search
the closet and bathrooms of the home for bombs. I would tell him to
stop being crazy.'
The teen also revealed his brother had been
applying for jobs everywhere but would never get hired and soon
stopped even trying.
His father said things turned even worse when a
close friend of his from the Marines died in Afghanistan in 2010.
'Once he received the news he was never the same.
He said terrible things are going to happen. The end of the world is
coming. He started searching for hidden things that weren't there,
like guns and knives,' his father, 49, said.
Like the men his son is accused of preying on, Mr
Ocampo is homeless after losing his job as a warehouse manager.
He ended up living under a bridge before finding
shelter in the cab of a broken-down truck he is helping repair.
Just days before he was arrested, Itzcoatl Ocampo
visited his father, warning him of the danger of being on the streets
and showing him a picture of one of the victims.
'He was very worried about me,' Mr Ocampo said. 'I
told him, "Don't worry. I'm a survivor. Nothing will happen to me".
Anaheim Police Chief John Welter has said
investigators are confident they have the man responsible for the
murders. They are expected to hold a press conference later today.
Ocampo lived with his mother and other relatives in
the suburbs. His mother, who speaks little English, tearfully brought
her son's Marine Corps dress uniform out of a closet and showed
photos, citations and medals from his military service.
The son followed a friend into the Marine Corps
right out of high school in 2006 instead of going to college as his
father had hoped.
His family described a physical condition Itzcoatl
suffered in which his hands shook and he suffered headaches. Medical
treatments helped until he started drinking heavily, they said.
A neighbour who is a Vietnam veteran he and
Ocampo's father both tried to push the 23-year-old to get treatment at
a veteran's hospital, but he refused.
All of the victims died as a result of frenzied and
brutal stabbings, with each man suffering at least 40 lacerations to
Police hunted the serial killer for weeks as he
continued to prey on the destitute and needy, leaving the entire
homeless community in state of fear. Police have yet to establish a
motive for the senseless killings.
Fellow Marine Robert Hays, who met Ocampo at basic
training in San Diego in 2006, told the Los Angeles Times he thought
the 23-year-old was 'motivated and gung-ho'.
But he admits he noticed a vast change in him after
He told the paper: 'He came back totally changed.
It was almost like he didn't care anymore. He'd get fidgety, he'd
start shaking, spacing out. You'd see him staring off.'
Jesus Balbuena, who was Ocampo's roommate at Camp
Pendleton after his return from Iraq, said he would 'wake up screaming
at the top of his lungs twice a week. He would have flashbacks' and
would often weep as he talked about his family's demise into financial
When he left active duty in 2010 he was devastated
to find that his father - who studied law in Mexico - was homeless and
living under a bridge.
The Veterans Administration had diagnosed him with
Bonnie Tisdale, who acted as Ocampo's supervisor at
Camp Pendleton, told the Times he was a punctual and reliable Marine.
'Regardless of what he's been accused of, I trust
him with my life,' the 27-year-old, of Vista, said. 'He's a veteran
who did not get the help he needed.
'It's traumatising over there and it is difficult
for Marines to come and ask for psychological help. Whether he's
proven innocent or guilty, he is our brother. We are his family.'
Mr Ocampo said he has repeatedly attempted to visit
his son at the Orange County jail but has been turned away.
'They won't let us see him, even though the whole
world is against him.'
He also said investigators came to him on Friday
night and showed him surveillance photos from a crime scene, but he
did not recognize his son as the person in the images.
'If he did it, it wasn't right, obviously. But
there's something wrong with him,' he said.
While Refugio Ocampo lives away from his family,
they remain close. He saw his children every day, and his wife brings
food to the parking lot where the truck is located in the city of
Fullerton. He and his two sons went to get haircuts together just a
day before the arrest, the father said.
Refugio Ocampo, who said he was educated as a
lawyer in Mexico, immigrated with his wife and Itzcoatl in 1988 and
became a U.S. citizen. He described building a successful life in
which he became a warehouse manager and bought a home in Yorba Linda.
In the past few years he lost his job, ran out of savings, lost his
house and separated from his wife.
Standing near the truck where he sleeps, the father
fought back tears as he described the changes he saw in his son in the
year since returning home.
'Before, he had the initiative to do things, the
desire. But after the military, he didn't have any of that,' he said.
That was far from the son who in high school was a
polite and motivated student, he said.
A school friend, Brian Doyle, portrayed Itzcoatl
Ocampo as a fun-loving teen who liked to hit on girls when he joined
the military. After he was discharged and returned home he became
isolated and trusted no one, said Doyle, 23.
Doyle had difficulty describing the change he saw
in his friend from high school.
'He went from being a tall, geeky kid, really
fun-loving...,' he said, trailing off.
Doyle said he once offered his friend a self-help
book based on Eastern philosophy that he had found useful but Itzcoatl
Ocampo rejected it.