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Serial killer suspect said, 'I did something terrible,' uncle says

January 15, 2012 |  8:57 am

John Berry, 64, is warned on Jan. 5 by Anaheim Police Sgt. Mike Lynch about the serial killer preying on homeless men in Orange County.

Itzcoatl Ocampo, the suspect in the slayings of four homeless men in Orange County, is a former Marine who had been increasingly troubled since he returned from Iraq in 2010, friends and family said.

"When he came back from Iraq, he was sick," said his uncle, Ifrain Gonzalez.

For the last year, he had been telling relatives that he was seeing and hearing things, Gonzalez said.

PHOTOS: Serial killer targets O.C. homeless

The last time Gonzalez saw his nephew was at a Christmas Eve party. Ocampo, he said, had told a cousin, "I did something terrible, but don't worry."

The killings had begun four days earlier.

Brian Doyle, a friend from high school, said Ocampo told him he had been kicked out of the military. A Marine Corps representative could not be reached Saturday for confirmation, and Anaheim police declined to discuss Ocampo's military service.

Since Ocampo's return, he had socialized with Doyle from time to time, drinking beer, smoking cigars and talking, Doyle said.

Ocampa was arrested Friday evening after bystanders chased him down about a quarter-mile from the shopping center where police found the body of John Berry, 64, near a trash bin behind a Carl's Jr. restaurant. Police allege he is the serial killer who also fatally stabbed three other homeless men in Orange County over the last few weeks.

"We are extremely confident that we have the man who is responsible for the murders of all four homeless men in Orange County," Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said at a news conference Saturday. Police said they would seek four counts of murder this week.

Authorities did not specify a motive for the killings, which began on Dec. 20 and sent fear through the homeless community. 

When he returned to the U.S. from Iraq, Ocampo moved into a rented bedroom that he shared with his mother and a younger sister and brother in Yorba Linda. His main activity was playing video games, Gonzalez said. Things got worse when he learned a good friend had been killed in Afghanistan.

Gonzalez said appointments to get his nephew psychological help had been made and canceled several times.

Ocampo donated money to help make a documentary about wounded Marines, according to a website for the unfinished film, titled "Still in the Fight."


Police probe string of O.C. deaths

O.C. serial killer sought in deaths of homeless men

Vulnerable homeless men try to foil Orange County killer

-- Nicole Santa Cruz and Alan Zarembo

Photo: John Berry, 64, is warned on Jan. 5 by Anaheim Police Sgt. Mike Lynch about the serial killer preying on homeless men in Orange County. On Friday, Berry himself was killed. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times