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Former murder suspect taken into custody for being in country illegally

February 4, 2012 |  3:01 pm

A man initially suspected of killing his mother and older brother but later released from the Orange County Jail after charges were dropped was briefly taken into custody by federal authorities for being in the country illegally, authorities said.

Eder Herrera, 24, was held Friday night by Immigration and Customs Enforcement because of a previous immigration detainer, authorities said in a prepared statement. He was released on his own recognizance pending an immigration hearing.

Herrera was originally accused in the Oct. 25 murders of his mother and brother. But on Friday prosecutors dropped charges in light of “a significant DNA” link that connected suspected serial killer Itzcoatl Ocampo to the crimes.

Ocampo, 23, is expected to be charged with the additional murders on Monday. He was originally charged with the murders of four homeless men last month in a killing spree that sent the transient population seeking shelter.

Prosecutors noted similarities between the deaths of the homeless men and the slayings of Raquel Estrada, 53, and her older son, Juan Herrera, 34, at their Yorba Linda home. Estrada was stabbed more than 30 times while Herrera had more than 60 wounds.

He also said DNA found on items taken from Ocampo's Yorba Linda home matched a profile from the double homicide.

Eder Herrera and Ocampo were classmates, prosecutors said, graduating together in 2006 from Esperanza High School in Anaheim. In addition, Ocampo lived about a mile from the Herrera home.

According to a friend who has knowledge of the case, Ocampo visited the Herrera home days before the killings to spend time with his buddies.

After his release from jail, Herrera told immigration officials that he originally entered the country illegally.

"ICE's case review showed Mr. Herrera had not had any prior immigration enforcement encounters, nor did he have a criminal history, aside from the charges which were just dismissed," according to a statement from immigration officials.


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-- Nicole Santa Cruz