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Former US Marine arrested for homeless stabbing

February 10 2012
Serial killer was a role model before he servied in Iraq


A 23-year-old man faces the death penalty for the brutal stabbing of four homeless men in Orange County, California.

It has emerged that the suspected serial killer, Itzcoati Ocampo, is a former Marine who had himself been made homeless following the loss of his job as a warehouse manager.

Ocampo’s family has spoken of their shock at his arrest, describing the defendant as a “role model” American until his deployment to Iraq in 2008 “killed the person he was”. His father, Refugio Ocampo, has defended his son’s character, saying: “I saw him giving the last money he had in his pocket... to the homeless.”

Ocampo could face the death penalty if he is found guilty of killing James Patrick McGillivray, 53, Llloud Middaugh, 42, Paulus Smit, 57 and John Berry, 64. All four of the victims suffered the same brutal and frenzied stabbing, with each suffering at least 40 lacerations to the body.

His brother, Mixcoatl Ocampo, told the LA Times that the alleged murderer was suffering from depression and had been severely affected by the time he spent in service. Mixcoatl said: “He was always paranoid. He would search the closet and bathrooms in his home for bombs.”

Following a court appearance on the 18 January, it now seems likely that Ocampo’s defence will to plead insanity. Prosecutor Tony Rackouckas, however, condemned him as “serious, vicious killer who went out there intentionally going about killing people and terrorizing a whole area”.

Bonnie Tisdale, who acted as Ocampo’s supervisor at Camp Pendleton, described him as “a veteran” who has been let down by the State. “Regardless of what he’s been accused of, I trust him with my life,” the 27-year-old said.

“If he did it, it wasn’t right, obviously, but there’s something wrong with him,” Tisdale added.

The population of homeless people in the California area is so great (an estimated 200, 000) that the police have their own dedicated homeless homicide unit. But even with the help of specially trained officers who have excellent outreach contacts, the police were hunting the killer for over a month, leaving the entire homeless community in a state of fear.

Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said that investigators are now confident they have the man responsible for the murders.