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Suspected O.C. serial killer kept knife sharpener in bedroom

Donald Hopkins
Authorities recovered dark clothing, a book titled "The Most Notorious Crimes in American History," a medical marijuana letter and a knife sharpener from suspected serial killer Itzcoatl Ocampo’s Yorba Linda home the day after he was arrested in the stabbing deaths of four Orange County homeless men, according to court documents obtained by The Times.

Meanwhile, dramatic details emerged Wednesday about the scene outside a Carl's Jr. when the fourth victim was attacked and the chase that ended with Ocampo's arrest.

Ocampo, 23, is charged with four counts of special-circumstances murder in the homicides, and is subject to the death penalty. Orange County District Atty. Tony Rackauckas said at a news conference last week that Ocampo stalked his victims and had more killings planned.

PHOTOS: Serial killer targets O.C. homeless

In a search warrant filed Jan. 20, investigators found a Farberware knife sharpener in Ocampo's bedroom and various pieces of dark clothing, as well as five black long-sleeved shirts.

Anaheim Police Det. Mark Lillemoen, in the warrant, described each of the stabbings. The first occurred Dec. 20 in a Placentia shopping center, where James McGillivray, 53, was stabbed "numerous times as he was sleeping on the side of the business," according to the document.

Lillemoen said he reviewed surveillance video that shows the suspect stabbing the victim with "a large, fixed-blade knife" later identified by Rackauckas as a single-edged, 7-inch KA-BAR Bull Dozer knife.

Police found the second victim, later identified as Lloyd "Jim" Middaugh, 42, in a riverbed Dec. 28. According to the affidavit, he also was sleeping at the time of the attack.

Lillemoen obtained surveillance video from a Bank of America branch in Yorba Linda, near where Paulus Smit, 57, was stabbed to death Dec. 30. In the video, a male dressed in a dark beanie, a dark long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans, black shoes and dark-colored gloves is seen walking in the direction of the crime scene.

The detective also detailed the Jan. 13 stabbing of John Barry, 64, behind a Carl's Jr. in a busy shopping center.

Lillemoen said he spoke to Donald Hopkins, 32, who witnessed the incident. On Wednesday, officials and some residents returned to the shopping center to honor Hopkins, who is a forklift operator in a warehouse. He was rewarded with a $5,000 check and a plaque from the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs for his role in the suspect's capture.

Hopkins, a married father of two, was inside a nearby CVS when a man ran into the store screaming for help. Immediately, Hopkins dropped his groceries and ran outside. He said he has never had a brush with the law, and no military experience either, but still ran toward the scene.

"I wish I could explain it, but I can’t. I just reacted," he said.

Hopkins said he had "tunnel vision" on the killer, whose back was facing him. Hopkins said he started yelling over and over, "Hey, stop!"

When Hopkins was about 15 feet away, Ocampo turned his entire body, glanced at him and sprinted across the parking lot. Hopkins ran after him.

"I never looked back," he said Wednesday.

His shaky hands attempted to dial 911 twice before he had to stop in order to complete the call. He continued to chase Ocampo and saw him shed a sweatshirt and gloves. Minutes later, police arrived, and Hopkins pointed authorities in the direction Ocampo ran.

According to the affadavit, Hopkins told investigators that he "approached the crowd and saw Ocampo stabbing a male transient four to five times."

"It's crazy," Hopkins said, after accepting his reward. "It's a lot to take in. I'm just happy we were able to catch him."

Investigators also obtained swabs of DNA from Ocampo's bathroom shower drain and from the sink. On Jan. 14, they obtained a cheek swab from Ocampo.

Various white T-shirts, blue and black jeans, black dress pants, a toothbrush, a Dell computer, a black MEU Airsoft pistol -- commonly used for paintball games -- and Caterpillar boots and white socks, among other items, also were taken into evidence.

RELATED:

Suspected O.C. serial killer held in solitary confinement

Four murder counts filed against accused O.C. homeless killer

Ex-Marine accused in homeless killings often gave money to needy

-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Anaheim

Photo: Donald Hopkins tries to control his emotions after being awarded $5,000 for helping authorities capture Itzcoatl Ocampo, the man suspected of fatally stabbing four homeless men in Orange County.

Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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