Remarks by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
Itzcoatl Ocampo Charges
January 17, 2012
Thank you all for coming. We have with us Anaheim, Brea/Yorba Linda, and Placentia Police Departments, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department William O'Leary Assistant, Special Agent in Charge, Los Angeles Field Office, FBI.
I would like to commend the Homeless Homicide Investigative Task Force involving these agencies for their tireless, swift work to gather the evidence on this case.
There are many members from the task force here today, and I would like to give them a round of applause for their tireless hard work for the last month.
I also want to commend the citizens whose brave actions led to the apprehension and filing of the charges against this defendant.
Today, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed four counts of special circumstances murder/ with allegations that there were multiple murders/ and that the murders were committed while lying in wait, and with the use of a deadly weapon.
If 23-year-old Itzcoatl Ocampo is convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
These charges also mean Ocampo is eligible for the death penalty.
The investigation of this case is ongoing and we do not have all of the information to make that decision:
As is customary in all special circumstance cases other than mass shootings – I will be convening the Special Circumstances Committee at a later date to announce that decision.
There are going to be some members of the public who feel less sympathy for these victims because they were homeless/and some had criminal records.
Often, these types of victims are preyed upon because the perpetrator does not believe anyone would care about/ or miss them. I am proud to live in a community where we do care about the more vulnerable members of our community. We saw it in the Kelly Thomas case, and we see it here.
As this case was being investigated and the facts were coming to light, I became increasingly concerned about the viciousness of these attacks.
I wondered whether this murderer would ever quench his thirst to kill and who his next victim might be.
Thanks to the actions of witnesses and great work by these agencies, we are now able to prosecute this defendant in the criminal justice process/ where Mr. Ocampo will be afforded all of his rights under the law.
These victims were not given the same chance.
This case began with the first murder on December 20th of last year. In 10 days, three homeless men were murdered in North Orange County.
All of the victims were stabbed multiple times, and the autopsies showed that the weapon in all three cases was “remarkably similar.”
Victim number one -- December 20, 2011. 53-year-old James McGillivray.
This was the key to the case because the incident which took place at a commercial complex at 140 N. Bradford Avenue in Placentia was caught on surveillance video and we were able to get the information out to the public.
While wearing dark pants and a black hooded sweatshirt, the defendant is accused of walking quickly with clear purpose to where Mr. McGillivray was lying, kneeling on the victim’s chest, and mounting him.
The defendant is accused of stabbing him more than 40 times, before and after the victim stopped struggling.
Victim number two -- December 27, 2011. 42-year-old Lloyd “Jimmy” Middaugh. The defendant is accused of stabbing this victim more than 50 times on the Santa Ana River Trail under the 91 Freeway underpass in the City of Anaheim.
Victim number three – December 30, 2011. 57-year-old Paulus “Dutch” Smit recently became homeless when the home he had been living in was deemed uninhabitable by code enforcement.
The defendant is accused of stabbing the victim more than 60 times at the Yorba Linda Public Library located at 18181 Imperial Highway in the City of Brea.
In each of these cases, the violence and the number of times each victim was stabbed increased.
The Orange County Crime Lab pathologist concluded that the weapon used was “remarkably similar if not the same weapon,” a single-edge blade at least seven inches long and made of a heavy gauge material. The blade had gone through bone without chipping or breaking the blade.
This is what we believe is the murder weapon, a Ka-bar Bull Dozer.
The fourth and final murder is the most brazen.
As you know, a taskforce was formed and this case was heavily covered by media, both print and broadcast.
The fourth victim in this case was featured and pictured in this Los Angeles Times article.
We believe that the evidence will show that the defendant specifically sought this victim out for participating in this article, the defendant relished the media attention of the crime, and he stalked the victim until he got his prey.
Victim number four – January 13, 2012. 64-year-old John Berry.
Several 911 calls came in reporting that a homeless man was being stabbed at 5735 E. La Palma in Anaheim.
Witnesses chased the suspect wearing a black hoodie eastbound on La Palma. The witnesses lost the suspect at the Mobile Home Park at 5815 E. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim Police Sergeant Bob Dunn arrived and found the victim suffering from multiple stab wounds. Mr. Berry was pronounced dead at the scene.
A perimeter was established and the defendant was contacted within the perimeter.
A blood hound utilized by Orange County Sheriff’s Department and a team of Orange County Deputy Sheriff’s found personal belongings of the defendant and the knife which is believed to have been used in the killings.
The defendant had blood on his hands and face when caught, and he was identified in in-field lineups.
Investigators located bloody clothing including a black hoodie, gloves, and a KA-BAR knife near where the defendant Ocampo was apprehended.
We will be proving that the defendant planned the murders in advance, stalked his victims looking for the right opportunity to execute them, and that he had additional victims already selected.
I want to commend the bravery and the alertness of the citizens who saw and chased the defendant, and the great work by these agencies to take this dangerous defendant into custody before there are any more victims.
Our job is just beginning and we will make sure that we bring this defendant to justice, and send a message out that we are going to protect all members of our community.