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Suspect arrested in serial killings of Orange County homeless men

Today, police identified a man who was arrested in the killings of homeless men in Southern California. Police arrested Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, of Yorba Linda, California, on Friday night after he allegedly stabbed a transient to death in Orange County, according to Anaheim, California, police Sgt. Bob Dunn today. Ocampo, a 23-year-old former Marine who some say was distraught after combat service in Iraq, was chased by bystanders after the most recent stabbing death behind a fast-food restaurant in an Anaheim shopping center. Ocampo is in police custody without bail and is expected in court on Tuesday.

The last victim was John Berry, a Vietnam veteran with a long white beard, who often camped on the banks of the Santa Ana River, reading a book next to his mountain bike. Berry’s friend, Darin Wilson witnessed a young man in a black hooded jacket from his front porch in Friendly Village.

In the glow of the streetlights he could make out the man’s nose poking through the hood. The man was darting around nervously, he said. “He looked like he was looking for some place to hide.”

When Wilson called out, the man ran off through some bushes and turned the corner toward the next row of homes.

Moments later, a bald, clean-cut man ran by at full speed, breathing hard, a cellphone glued to his ear.

“It’s the serial killer — that’s him!” Wilson recalled the man saying. “He stabbed a guy 20 times at Carl’s Jr., a homeless guy,” the man added.

Authorities have searched for a serial killer after three men were killed over a period of 10 days last month in Anaheim, Brea, and Placentia.

The three men were “stabbed multiple times,” Dunn said. “There are some additional similarities between the victims that we are not going to discuss.”

The first victim — a 53-year-old male — was stabbed on December 20 in Placentia. Eight days later, a 42-year-old man was found fatally stabbed on a riverbed trail in Anaheim. A third victim, 57, was found on December 30 in Yorba Linda.

Brian Doyle, a friend of Ocampo said that Ocampo told him he had been kicked out of the military. A Marine Corps representative could not be found for comment on Saturday. Anaheim police declined to talk about Ocampo’s military service. A relative and friend of Ocampo described him as deeply troubled after his return from Iraq in the summer of 2010.

“When he came back from Iraq, he was sick,” said his uncle, Ifrain Gonzalez.

For the last year, he had been telling relatives that he was seeing and hearing things, Gonzalez said.

The last time Gonzalez saw his nephew was at a Christmas Eve party. Ocampo, he said, had told a cousin, “I did something terrible, but don’t worry.”

That was four days after the killings began.

-Bill at

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