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Man to go free after slayings linked to serial killer suspect

February 4, 2012 |  8:05 am

Ocampo arrest

A man who was accused of killing his mother and older brother should be freed from jail Saturday after authorities connected the crimes to suspected serial killer Itzcoatl Ocampo.

Prosecutors are dropping murder charges against Eder Herrera, 24, who has been housed in the Orange County Jail.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said two additional charges would be filed against Ocampo in the October murders of Raquel Estrada, 53, and Juan Herrera, 34.

Ocampo, 23, has already been charged in the deaths of four homeless men, one of whom was stabbed more than 60 times. The slayings occurred between Dec. 20 and Jan. 13 in northern Orange County.

In the Herrera case, DNA found on items taken from Ocampo’s Yorba Linda home matched a profile from the October slayings of Estrada and Juan Herrera.

"This case has now expanded from murdering random vulnerable strangers to murdering people he knew," Rackauckas said at a news conference Friday.

The younger Herrera, who had been a classmate of Ocampo's at Esperanza High School in Anaheim, was accused of stabbing his mother more than 30 times and leaving her body in the kitchen. His brother was stabbed more than 60 times and the body left in a hallway until police responded to a tip at 11:30 p.m. The person believed they heard strange noises coming from the home.

Rackauckas said there was "significant evidence" that led to the filing of charges against Herrera, including a witness who saw a person he believed was Herrera dragging something from the front door of the house back inside.

"Based on blood evidence at the scene, it appeared that victim Juan Herrera had attempted to escape out the front door before being dragged back inside," Rackauckas said.

Eder "Herrera spent the evening driving around randomly with a friend," he said. "His behavior was suspicious."

Rackauckas said the investigation is ongoing.

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-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: Itzcoatl Ocampo at his arraignment last month. At right is Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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