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Serial killer Itzcoatl Ocampo brutally murdered four homeless men in Orange County: Devil Among Us

Mugshot of Itzcoatl Ocampo
Itzcoatl Ocampo brutally stabbed four homeless men and was also charged with two other murders. Pic credit: Anaheim Police Dept

This week on Devil Among Us, the team follows the case of serial killer Itzcoatl Ocampo, who stalked out the homeless victims in Orange County and brutally stabbed them.

Ocampo was a former marine and an Iraq veteran, who later said he was doing his duty when he killed homeless people. He specifically targeted homeless people because he allegedly saw them as a scourge on the community. His own father was homeless at the time.

Ocampo had been deployed to Iraq in 2008, but his family says he returned in 2010 as a disturbed man who suffered from tics and tremors. However, he had not seen any combat in Iraq as he was assigned to drive a truck, a situation he was disappointed about.

According to secret grand jury testimony, Ocampo reportedly joined the Marine Corps because “he needed to kill.”

It seems Ocampo came home with a thirst for blood. He first struck on December 20, 2011, when he attacked James McGillivray at a shopping center in Placentia. He jumped on McGillivray and stabbed him numerous times.

Itzcoatl Ocampo stabbed his victims up to 60 times

His second victim came eight days later when he attacked Lloyd “Jim” Middaugh, once again as he slept. Middaugh was stabbed over 50 times. His third victim was Paulus Smit, who he stabbed over 60 times on December 30. Police believe his weapon of choice was a Marine Corp hand-knife.

The fourth homeless victim was 64-year-old John Barry on January 13. Ocampo had hunted Barry after he was featured in a Los Angeles Times article about the homeless killings. Police later said that Ocampo loved the media attention surrounding his sick rampage.

Ocampo had attacked Barry in full view of several eyewitnesses who immediately dialed 911. When Ocampo fled the scene, he was chased by members of the public who aided officers in apprehending the killer.

With Ocampo finally in custody, the police linked him to two further murders. As well as the four homeless murders, he was also charged with murdering the mother of a schoolfriend, Raquel Estrada, and the friend’s brother, Juan Herrera, in October 2011.

As Ocampo was awaiting trial in November 2013, he managed to escape the judge by committing suicide. He had slowly collected small amounts of industrial cleanser until he had enough for a lethal dose.

After ingesting the cleanser, corrections officers found the murderer shaking and vomiting in his cell. He was taken to the hospital, where he died a short time later.

More from Devil Among Us

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on Devil Among Us.

Robert Spangler murdered five members of his own family over three decades. His victims included two of his wives and his two teenage children. Prosecutors later argued he would regularly grow bored with family life.

Previously, the team looked at the bizarre murder of Jeffrey Cain and the ensuing events. Douglas Gustafson was in a car with three friends when he became angered inexplicably by another vehicle, so he decided to fire a shot into the car, which killed Cain instantly.

Gustafson was turned into the police by his friend, George Kerr, who had been a passenger with him. Gustafson’s siblings then attempted to get revenge by bombing Kerr’s house, killing his father.

Devil Among Us airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.


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