Orange County police officials are asking for the public’s help in identifying what they call a “serious, dangerous serial killer operating in Orange County.”
Police believe one person is responsible for stabbing three middle-aged homeless men between Dec. 20 and 30. The men were stabbed multiple times, said Anaheim Police Chief John Welter during a news conference Wednesday morning.
“We believe these murders were likely committed by the same suspect and feel he is extremely dangerous to the public,” Welter said.
At one murder scene, police obtained a photograph of the suspect as he approached a victim. Police said the suspect is a male who was wearing a dark hoodie or sweater.
Welter said that investigators, including the FBI, believe that a white 4-door Toyota was involved in the crime, as shown in a surveillance video.
“This vehicle is of particular interest to homicide investigators,” Welter said.
Police said that two attacks occurred at night and one during the late afternoon and are urging the homeless to stay aware of surroundings.
The body of the first victim, James Patrick McGillivray, 53, was found near a shopping center in Placentia on Dec. 21. Police said their best lead so far is footage from a security camera that showed a man of thin build and average height, dressed in black and “lying in wait.”
A week later, the body of Lloyd Middaugh, 42, was found on a riverbed trail near Tustin Avenue in Anaheim. A third man, Paulus Smit, 57, was found dead with stab wounds outside a library in Yorba Linda last Friday.
On Tuesday, police officials announced that they had formed a task force to investigate the incident.
There are warnings being issued.
Homeless men in southern California are being warned by police to stick together and remain on high alert for a suspected serial killer who may be preying on them.
All three men were stabbed to death by their attacker, who police believe is a man captured on surveillance video during one of the crimes. The deaths occurred in Anaheim, Yorba Linda, and Placentia, from Dec. 20 to Dec. 30.
Anaheim police, together with neighboring police departments, the county sheriff, and the FBI, are warning homeless people throughout the area to take precautions, including traveling and sleeping in well-lit, well-populated areas. They have launched a campaign to get the information to the vulnerable population, handing out fliers, notifying homeless shelters and soup kitchens, and asking churches to notify those who seek services, Dunn said.
They are also asking the homeless to report any suspicious behavior, which they are often reluctant to do, the police spokesman said.
Video and full ABC News Article
Even though many are seeking protection in shelters not all homeless are heading the warnings.
But as authorities ask the homeless to practice extra precaution, officers are running into a similar problem they’ve encountered in the past.
Some of the homeless folks they encounter prefer to remain by themselves rather than to camp with a group or head to a shelter. Those who provide shelter services are also coping with limited resources.
“All you can do is make them aware,” said Sgt. Louise Callus of the Laguna Beach Police Department.
Beds are still available at shelters around the county, where the homeless can be in a safer environment, said Orange County’s administrator of homeless services.
“There’s definitely more room for the homeless,” said Karen Roper, director of Orange County Community Services.
On Thursday, the Orange County Rescue Mission was also handing out flashlights and whistles to homeless people, she said.
After police announced they were now searching for a serial killer, attendance at shelters increased by about 40 percent this week, said Larry Haynes, executive director of Mercy House, a non-profit organization that provides services to the homeless.
Anaheim Police Dept. via Orange County Register, via Associated Press
Authorities in Orange County believe one man killed three homeless men last month: from top, Paulus Cornelius Smit, Lloyd Middaugh and James McGillivray.
I hope that they find this guy soon. Since many homeless have so few contacts in daily life the killer could victimize so many without the police finding out for a while. That might have already happened.
I hope not but it is possible that these are not the first killings just the first ones that fit into a pattern and that have been linked.
A grainy still photo cropped from a video frame shows a shadowy figure, upper right, dressed in black and a wearing hooded sweatshirt, approaching Placentia stabbing victim James McGillivray. The Homeless Homicide Investigative Task Force believes the dark-clothed person is the main suspect in the Placentia stabbing. Source
Paulus Cornelius Smit was 57 and a father of three with 10 grandchildren.
“He was an honest and sincere soul,” said Smit-Lozano, who remembers her father helping her out on elementary school projects.
Smit-Lozano’s father, who is from Amsterdam, went by the nickname Dutch, but his daughters called him “Papa.”
He came to California via Colorado and got into trouble in his teens, Winters said, spending a stint in Juvenile Hall on a theft-related arrest.
Smit-Lozano said that her father started living on the streets regularly in the mid-’80s, after his wife left him when Smit-Lozano was 8.
Smit, she said, at times held down odd jobs, including tow-truck driver and plumber. But he never embraced full-time work for long, she said.
“Instead of being called a ‘transient,’ Papa preferred the term ‘wanderer,’ ” Smit-Lozano said. “He thought there was more nobility to that term. He also liked ‘nomad,’ but he thought that you had to live in the desert to be one.”
Lloyd Middaugh had two packs of cigarettes and $12 in his pocket the last time some of his friends saw him, a few nights before he died. They hadn’t seen him so happy in a long time.
Middaugh was new to the streets. He had taken shelter under an overpass just a few months ago after he lost his room at a transitional-living apartment where sex offenders like him could live.
He spent his days begging for cigarettes. He spent his nights wrapped in three sweaters and a leather jacket under that overpass – and his friends are still surprised that his attacker could stab him to death through all that clothing.
James McGillivray was a quiet presence at the Placentia shopping center where he lived and died. He had been there for at least a few months; some remember him shuffling past the storefronts in the morning, offering an occasional hello, for more than a year.
He had few possessions. A sleeping bag. A backpack decorated with the children’s cartoon characters Phineas and Ferb. A cap that he often wore that said “Vietnam Veteran,” although he was too young to really be one.
He would carefully roll up his sleeping bag and line up his belongings against one wall when he headed out in the morning. That’s what stands in people’s minds now: how humble and unobtrusive he was.