A homeless man was stabbed to death in Anaheim late Friday and police quickly arrested a man who was chased by witnesses and resembled descriptions of a serial killer suspected in three other homeless slayings.
The suspect was identified by Anaheim police as Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, of Yorba Linda. He was held without bail on suspicion of murder, police said.
Police received a call at 8:17 p.m. of a stabbing in progress behind the Carl's Jr. near La Palma Avenue and Imperial Highway, said Sgt. Bob Dunn of the Anaheim Police Department.
Although police wouldn't speculate on whether Ocampo might be the serial killer suspected of slaying three other Orange County homeless men since Dec. 20, they did cite similarities. Once again, the victim was a homeless man stabbed to death in the same general vicinity of North Orange County, said Dunn.
But there was one major difference this time.
“People were actually there and saw it,” Dunn said. "They gave chase for an indeterminate amount of time and provided officers with a last known location [of the suspect]. One of our officers was in the area and detained the suspect without incident."
The suspect was caught about a quarter-mile away, in Yorba Linda.
Friday night's victim was known to locals as John. He was believed to be a Vietnam War veteran in his mid-60s. It was unclear where his last address was. Several people told television news crews he was a nice guy, not an aggressive beggar.
"I saw him at CVS about a week ago and I started crying when he said he wanted to leave the area and I hugged him,'' a woman told NBC4. "But then I saw him and I was so happy he was still here, but I've been busy and I didn't have time the last couple of days to say 'hi'.''
Police were believed to be questioning more than two dozen witnesses.
Police later surrounded the Yorba Linda home of the suspect. The murder scene itself was swarming with police and federal agents, who had been conducting several miles away seeking clues in a previous homeless slaying, ABC7 said.
"Why would you kill a homeless person?'' one person told ABC7. "They do nothing wrong, especially him. He was a nice person.''
On Dec. 20, 53-year-old James McGillivray was attacked as he slept outside a Placentia shopping center. Eight days later, the body of Lloyd Middaugh, 42, was discovered on Anaheim's Santa Ana River Trail. On Dec. 30, 57-year-old Paulus Cornelius Smit was killed behind the Yorba Linda library.
All of the victims died of multiple stab wounds.
Surveillance video taken before McGillivray's slaying in Placentia showed a man wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt. Investigators also are searching for a white, four-door 2000 to 2003 Toyota Corolla shown on the video.
-City News Service and Patch staff reports