A man was arrested on Friday night, on suspicion of killing a homeless man in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant in Orange County. Authorities said on Saturday they were extremely confident it is the same man who killed three other homeless people recently.
We are extremely confident that we have the man who is responsible for the murders of all four homeless men in Orange County. We plan to request from the district attorney that he be charged with four counts of murder, Anaheim Police Chief John Welter was quoted as saying, in the Los Angeles Times.
The 23-year-old man, who has been identified as Itzcoatl Ocampo, is from Yorba Linda. Neither the police nor the Federal Bureau of Investigation have, so far, made public details of motive or evidence against OCampo.
Ocampo was reportedly caught while trying to run away after stabbing a homeless man, identified as John, 53, on Friday night between 8 and 9 p.m. He is currently being held at Anaheim jail, without the provision of bail.
Witnesses and bystanders present at the crime scene chased down Ocampo on foot. He was finally captured by a police officer, who arrived at the scene in response to dozens of 911 calls. According to Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn, officers found John's body near a trash bin in the restaurant parking lot.
News of Ocampo's arrest may mean the homeless people in Orange County can breathe easier, after spending much of last month worried and fearful.
Larry Haynes, Executive Director of the Mercy House in Santa Ana, said that after workers announced the arrest in the streets, people who sleep at his shelter came in for the night talking about the arrest.
It was the topic of a lot of conversation tonight, and everybody was really excited, just really happy and relieved, Haynes said. But until there is a conviction and we know for absolute certainty, we're hoping that people will try to stay safe and come into places like ours for the night, he added, according to a report in timesunion.com.
As part of its investigations, the police had released grainy video footage, from a security camera, showing a man dressed in black and waiting, at the time of the first attack on Dec. 20. That image had been the only substantial lead in the investigation so far.
The first victim was James Patrick McGillivray, 53. On Dec. 28, Lloyd Middaugh, 42, was found dead near a riverbed trail in Anaheim. Two days later, Paulus Smit, 57, was killed outside the Yorba Linda city library, according to the report.
Police alerted homeless people of the attacks and had informed them of a possible serial killer on the loose. Homeless people were asked to sleep in groups and avoid sleeping in dark or secluded areas.