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OC transient murders: Brother says suspect innocent

January 16, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The family of a suspected serial killer spoke out following his arrest for the murders of four homeless men. The man is an Iraq war veteran suspected of stabbing four homeless men to death in Orange County. His family claims he's innocent. Police insist the right man was arrested.

The suspect was held in isolation and was being monitored on suicide watch 24 hours a day.

Mix Ocampo proudly shows off the uniform of his older brother, Itzcoatl, or "Izzy." Mix dismisses allegations that Itzcoatl, a 23-year-old former Marine, is a serial killer.

"He's not a murderer. He's an innocent man. He's a hero to me, my role model," said Mix.

Ocampo is suspected of murdering four homeless men in Orange County since late December. He was arrested Friday night after bystanders chased him after a fourth transient man was fatally stabbed. John Berry was a well-known homeless Vietnam veteran. He was killed next to a Carl's Jr. restaurant in Anaheim not far from the bench he used to sleep on near the Santa Ana River trail.

"If police say my nephew is guilty, send the proof. When I got the proof and evidence, OK, I understand," said the suspect's uncle, Raul Gonzalez.

Police gathered evidence from Itzcoatl Ocampo's home in Yorba Linda. Police say they're also looking at surveillance video, but wouldn't say exactly why they're confident Ocampo is the suspect.

"I couldn't comment on anything that was recovered from the scene as it is evidence in the case," said Anaheim Police Sgt. Robert Dunn.

Gonzalez says his nephew served an eight-month tour of duty in Iraq in 2008 but never saw combat. That same year, Ocampo's family lost their home.

Ocampo's father lives out of a truck in Fullerton. His father says his own son warned him about the serial killer targeting homeless men three days before his arrest.

"He's never done anything. He never got in trouble with the police," said Mix Ocampo.

Mix says he doesn't believe his brother could be violent, but admits Ocampo became depressed when his mentor, Yorba Linda Marine Claudio Patino IV, was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010.

"He just wanted to be alone. He always looked at his picture of Claudio, and just crying, 'Why him,'" said Mix.

James McGillivray, 53, was found fatally stabbed Dec. 21 outside a strip mall in Placentia. A week later, 42-year-old transient Lloyd Middaugh was found stabbed to death near the Santa Ana River Trail in Anaheim. Two days after his murder, the bloody body of 57-year-old homeless man Paulus Smit was found next to the Yorba Linda Public Library.

Police did not publically speculate on a motive for the murders. A police news conference was scheduled for Tuesday morning.

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