Bystanders help capture suspect in homeless man's killing in Anaheim
Bystanders are being credited with helping capture a suspect arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of a homeless man in Anaheim on Friday, the fourth such incident in the last few weeks in Orange County.
The stabbing occurred after 8 p.m. outside a Carl's Jr. restaurant. The suspect was chased from the scene by two bystanders before being eventually detailed by an Anaheim police officer.
"Several brave individuals from the community were able to pursue the suspect a slight distance and provide critical information" leading to his capture, Deputy Anaheim Police Chief Craig Hunter told reporters.
Authorities were cautious about linking the latest killing to the previous three, but said the suspect bore a resemblance to a man being sought in those deaths, which have been called the work of a serial killer. Investigators said about 50 witnesses were being interviewed about Friday's crime, and Orange County sheriff's deputies were using bloodhounds to pore over the scene for clues.
Asked if the man detained Friday looks like the man filmed in a surveillance video around the time and place of the first killing, on Dec. 20 in Placentia, Hunter said, "Yes, in a general sense, he does."
However, he said police were not assuming they had solved the serial killings. "We are certainly not letting down our guard," Hunter told reporters at an impromptu news conference near the crime scene.
According to the deputy chief, police received word at 8:17 p.m. of an assault in progress, and rushed to the scene behind a Carl's Jr. restaurant on La Palma Avenue and Imperial Highway. There, they found the body of a homeless man with stab wounds near a trash bin.
Each of the previous stabbing victims, authorities said, was alone when attacked. James Patrick McGillivray, 53, was killed near a shopping center in Placentia on Dec. 20; Lloyd Middaugh, 42, was found near a riverbed trail in Anaheim on Dec. 28; Paulus Smit, 57, was killed outside a Yorba Linda library on Dec. 30. Authorities have said the homicides are the work of a serial killer and have released grainy photographs captured from surveillance video that show a man dressed in dark clothing.
A white, late-model Toyota Corolla is also a vehicle of interest. Police have been urging homeless people to seek shelter and have gone into homeless encampments across Orange County warning those living there that a killer is on the loose.
-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Anaheim and Mitchell Landsberg
Photo: A woman and her child sit on the corner of La Palma Avenue and Imperial Highway in Anaheim after a homeless man was found slain Friday behind a nearby fast-food restaurant. Police cordoned off the area and didn't allow people to leave during the search. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times