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Ex-Marine accused in O.C. homeless killings to be charged

January 17, 2012 |  7:58 am
Charges are expected to be filed against Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo, the suspected culprit in the string of homeless killing in Orange County

Charges are expected to be filed today against an Iraq war veteran accused of killing four homeless men in Orange County.

Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo, a 23-year-old ex-Marine being held on a psychological watch at the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana, faces charges in connection with the series of stabbing deaths that occurred over the past month.

The victims were James Patrick McGillivray, 53, who was killed in Placentia on Dec. 20; Lloyd Middaugh, 42, in Anaheim on Dec. 28; Paulus Smit, 57, in Yorba Linda on Dec. 30; and John Berry, 64, in Anaheim on Jan.13.

The killings were gruesome and particularly violent, with each victim suffering at least 40 stab wounds, police told a victim's relative. One of the victims suffered more than 50 stab wounds.

Ocampo was arrested after witnesses chased him down following Berry's killing.

Ocampo had been known to be exceedingly generous with the homeless, sometimes handing over money that he couldn't afford to give, family members said. But if authorities are correct, Ocampo's apparent kinship for the downtrodden somehow curdled into something more sinister.

The change in Ocampo, friends and family say, can be traced back to his time in Iraq. He entered the Marines after the 9/11 attacks, and deployed to Iraq in 2008 with the Marines' 1st Medical Battalion.

His assignment was grisly: He had to meet and inspect the wounded -- both friend and enemy -- when they were flown in from combat zones en route to the hospital.

"He came back totally changed," fellow Marine Robert Hays said. "It was almost like he didn't care anymore. He'd get fidgety, he'd start shaking, spacing out. You'd see him staring off."


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-- Louis Sahagun, Christopher Goffard and Rick Rojas

Photo: A picture shows Itzcoatl Ocampo, who is in custody in connection with the slayings of four homeless men in Orange County, in his Marine Corps uniform. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times