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Transient man found dead in Orange County

January 9, 2012 |  3:00 pm

A transient man was found dead behind a tire store in Santa Ana on Monday, and police were trying to determine whether he was a homicide victim.

The discovery comes as police are investigating the deaths of three homeless men in Orange County that detectives believe may be tied to a serial killer.

Santa Ana police stressed they are still trying to determine the nature of the victim's death and said it's far too early to make any connections to the strings of slayings.

"We are trying to determine whether this is a homicide or a death by natural causes," said Santa Ana police Cpl. Jim Rose.

The body was found about 9 a.m. near 1st Street and Harbor Boulevard.

The slayings of three homeless men is the subject of a large investigation.

Across the county, at the urging of authorities, many of the homeless are seeking beds at emergency shelters or making sure to sleep in groups outdoors, and taking pains to make themselves less conspicuous on the streets and in riverbeds. Many say it is just another version of a skill they have practiced for years -- survival -- in a dangerous environment. In some cases, efforts to help are complicated by mental illness, paranoia and a deep-seated fatalism.

Each of the three homeless stabbing victims, authorities say, was alone when he was 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.

RELATED:

Police warn homeless about serial killer

Police hunt serial killer in Orange County

Homeless seek shelter as police hunt for serial killer

-- Andrew Blankstein and Nicole Santa Cruz

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