Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Case # TBA
January 17, 2012
Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
OCDA FILES MULTIPLE MURDER CHARGES AGAINST FORMER MARINE FOR SERIAL THRILL-KILL SPREE OF FOUR HOMELESS MEN IN ONE MONTH
*Defendant was apprehended after mass multi-agency manhunt
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) Office has filed charges against a former Marine for murdering four homeless men in a serial thrill-kill spree. Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, Yorba Linda, is charged with four felony counts of murder with special circumstances for multiple murders and lying in wait and sentencing enhancements for personal use of a deadly weapon, a knife, during commission of a crime. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. The special circumstances in this case make Ocampo eligible for the death penalty, and the District Attorney will make this determination at a later date as is customary. Ocampo is being held without bail and is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD), and the Anaheim (APD), Brea (BPD), and Placentia (PPD) Police Departments.
Members of these agencies have interviewed more than 200 witnesses both before and after the arrest. OCSD Crime Lab made this case a top priority and analyzed the key physical evidence in this case. The FBI provided specialized information and expertise.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Susan Price of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case on behalf of the OCDA.
Ocampo was in the United States Marines until he was discharged in June 2010.
For each of the four murders (described below), Ocampo is accused of planning the murders in advance and pre-selecting and stalking his victims. He is accused of being intelligent and calculating in carrying out these vicious, executions with no plans of stopping. He is accused of preying on homeless men because of their vulnerability. All four of the murders occurred in North Orange County.
Ocampo is accused of using the same Ka-bar Bull Dozer knife in all four murders.
Murder of James McGillivray
At approximately 8:15 pm. on Dec. 20, 2011, 53-year-old James McGillivray was laying behind a commercial complex at 140 N. Bradford Avenue in Placentia.
Ocampo is accused of approaching the victim on foot wearing dark pants and a dark hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over the back of his head. The defendant is accused of kneeling on the victim’s chest and striking him several times in the head and upper torso as McGillivray struggled to defend himself. Ocampo is accused of then stabbing the victim more than 40 times in the head, neck, and upper torso as the victim fought for his life. After McGillivray stopped moving, Ocampo is accused of continuing to stab the victim before fleeing the scene on foot.
The murder was captured on a video surveillance camera, which had been installed by the property management company only two days earlier. The victim’s body was discovered the following morning and PPD began investigating this case.
Murder of Lloyd “Jimmy” Middaugh
Shortly before midnight on Dec. 27, 2011, 42-year-old Lloyd “Jimmy” Middaugh was taking shelter in the Santa Ana River Trail under the California State Route 91 underpass in the City of Anaheim.
Ocampo is accused of approaching the victim and murdering him by stabbing him more than 50 times in the head and torso. The defendant is accused of then fleeing the scene.
The victim’s body was discovered the following morning and Middaugh was pronounced dead at the scene by responding paramedics and the Anaheim Fire Department. APD began investigating this case.
Murder of Paulus “Dutch” Smit
Sometime after 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2011, 57-year-old Paulus “Dutch” Smit arrived in the area of the Yorba Linda Public Library. Ocampo is accused of approaching the victim and murdering him by stabbing him more than 60 times before fleeing the scene.
Shortly before 5:00 p.m., the victim’s body was discovered. Responding paramedics from the Orange County Fire Authority pronounced Smit dead at the scene. BPD, who patrols the City of Yorba Linda, began investigating this case.
Based on the similarities between the three murders and suspicion by law enforcement that one person was responsible for all three attacks, the Homeless Homicide Investigative Task Force was formed on Dec. 31, 2011, with personnel from APD, BPD, FBI, OSCD, and PPD.
Murder of John Berry
At approximately 8:15 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2012, Ocampo is accused of approaching 64-year-old John Berry on La Palma Avenue in Anaheim wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. He is accused of murdering the victim by stabbing him several times.
Witnesses observed the attack and began to chase the defendant, who is accused of fleeing the scene on foot. Other witnesses called 911. Responding paramedics from the Anaheim Fire Department pronounced Berry dead at the scene.
The pursing witnessing lost the defendant in a nearby mobile home park, but a law enforcement perimeter was established and Ocampo was arrested shortly thereafter. At the time of his arrest, Ocampo is accused of having blood on his hands and face.
Death Penalty Decision
Prior to seeking the death penalty, a special circumstances committee consisting of the District Attorney, the Senior Assistant and Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Homicide Unit, and other prosecutors experienced in capital cases meet and discuss the nature of the crime, the vulnerability of the victim, the defendant’s criminal record, and other factors. The committee also considers mitigating circumstances presented by the defense attorney.
California law permits the District Attorney to seek the death penalty if the aggravating factors substantially outweigh the mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are any facts above and beyond the circumstances of crime that increases the wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct, the enormity of the offense, or the harmful impact of the crime. Mitigating factors are any facts that reduce the defendant’s blameworthiness or otherwise support a less severe punishment. The final decision to pursue the death penalty rests on the District Attorney.
Law Enforcement Requests Further Information
The investigation is still ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Randy Litwin at (714) 347-8492. Please note, earlier in the investigation there was interest in a white vehicle in the vicinity of Placentia. Law enforcement is no longer seeking information on this vehicle.