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Orange County transient serial murders: Suspect arrested

January 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Police arrested a man believed to be connected to four homeless murders in Orange County in the past month.

The suspect was identified as 23-year-old Itzcoatl Ocampo of Yorba Linda. Authorities said he's a 2006 graduate of Esperanza High School in Yorba Linda. Eyewitness News learned on Saturday that he is also a former Marine who has served time in Afghanistan.

Ocampo was arrested Friday at about 8 p.m. in connection with the stabbing death of a homeless man near a Carl's Jr. restaurant near La Palma Avenue and Imperial Highway in Anaheim.

This was the fourth such murder in less than a month. Law enforcement officials from across Orange County and the FBI formed a task force to investigate the transient killings of the three other homeless men were also found stabbed to death in north Orange County since mid-December.

During a news conference on Saturday, Anaheim police said they've connected Ocampo to the serial killings.

"After further investigation by the homicide task force, we are extremely confident that we have the man who's responsible for the murders of all four homeless men in Orange County," said Anaheim Police Chief John Welter.

Police credited the people who chased the suspect down after Friday's murder and gave a detailed description which led to his arrest.

"Since the inception of the task force the public has been very instrumental in providing leads and details to our hotline, they have also emailed the task force on countless occasions," said Sgt. Bob Dunn. "How they also have helped us is by being patient with our road block canvases, and understanding as we were working through this case and trying tactics to gain information."

Authorities said Ocampo has some traffic violations on his record, but apparently no criminal history.

As for the victim, residents in the area say they believe he was a Vietnam veteran in his 60s. He was known as John and was well-liked in the community. Some say John was worried that someone was stalking him.

Area resident Jim Burke said John told him he believed he came in contact with the serial killer. Burke said he grew concerned and told a nearby Department of Water and Power worker, and told him to contact police.

"I just assumed that after hearing that, the police department would be there to protect him, and I can't tell you how disappointed I am that they didn't," said Burke.

Ocampo was booked at Anaheim City Jail without bail. He will be transported to Orange County Jail early next week and is expected to face four counts of murder.