Itzcoatl Ocampo


Itzcoatl Ocampo

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Ex-Marine
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: October 25, 2011 - January 13, 2012
Date of arrest: January 13, 2012
Date of birth: 1988
Victims profile: Raquel Estrada (53) and Juan Herrera (34) / James McGillivray (53) / Lloyd "Jim" Middaugh (42) / Paulus Smit (57) / John Barry (64)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Orange County, California, USA
Status: In prison awaiting trial

Man accused of killing homeless in O.C. ordered to trial

March 9, 2012

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 cell.

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 Sept. 10.

Ocampo case: Documents show evidence seized in Yorba Linda

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 the house."

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

January 25, 2012

Authorities recovered 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 killings planned.

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 scene.

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 him."

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 Ocampo

Family said deployment in Iraq 'killed the man he used to be'

Before arrest, was known to dedicate his life to the homeless

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 Register website.

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 Friday.

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 hallucinations.

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 their body.

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 his deployment.

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 hardship.

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 psychological problems.

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.

Itzcoatl Ocampo

Itzcoatl Ocampo

A relative holds a photograph of Itzcoatl posing proudly in his Marines uniform. He is said to have
become paranoid and delusional after his deployment.

FBI: Special agent William O'Leary announcing the arrest of Itzcoatl Ocampo.

Itzcoatl Ocampo

Itzcoatl Ocampo

Itzcoatl Ocampo

Refugio Ocampo, the father of the 23-year-old son who is the prime suspect in the killings of four
homeless men, is himself homeless and said the Iraq war killed the man his son used to be.

Photos of homeless men killed in Orange County are displayed during a news conference in Santa Ana
as the DA file murder charges against former Marine Itzcoati Ocampo.


Raquel Estrada