Archive for February 4th, 2012

Serial Killer Itzcoatl Ocampo To Be Charged With More Stabbing Deaths

By AMY TAXIN, Associated Press

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (AP) — A 24-year-old who spent more than three months in jail on charges of murdering his mother and brother was a free man Saturday, a day after prosecutors said they would instead charge a high school friend accused in a string of serial killings.

Eder Herrera was released from jail Friday night after forensic analysis showed a spot found in his vehicle that appeared to be blood turned out not to be, and authorities encountered DNA evidence linking Herrera’s former schoolmate Itzcoatl Ocampo to the gory October stabbing deaths.

Now, prosecutors in suburban Orange County plan to charge Ocampo, a 23-year-old former Marine, with the murders of Herrera’s 34-year-old brother Juan and 53-year-old mother Raquel Estrada in the family’s rented three-bedroom house on a quiet residential cul-de-sac in upscale Yorba Linda.

Ocampo already is charged with murdering four homeless men in a killing spree in December and January that terrorized a county better known as the home to Disneyland and prompted police to fan out and urge people to seek shelter indoors. He is expected to be arraigned on the new charges Monday.

It wasn’t immediately clear what relationship may have existed between Ocampo and Herrera’s family. The two men were friends and both graduated from Esperanza High School.

Ocampo’s family knew Herrera, who stayed with them for two weeks several years ago, but hadn’t seen him recently, said Ocampo’s 18-year-old brother Mix.

The younger Ocampo said he had no idea someone he knew might have been involved in the October slayings just a mile from his home until he found a newspaper article about Herrera’s arrest among his elder brother’s belongings once his brother had been taken to jail.

Herrera’s brother Juan was found stabbed more than 60 times, his body left in a hallway. His mother was stabbed more than 30 times, authorities said.

The stab wounds were similar to those suffered by the four homeless men bludgeoned to death in December and January. Each of the four men was stabbed more than 40 times with a weapon believed to be a 7-inch, fixed-blade, military-type knife, authorities said.

Ocampo was arrested last month with blood on his face and hands after a fourth homeless man was killed, prosecutors said. He was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and the special circumstances of multiple victims and lying in wait.

“This case has now expanded from murdering random, vulnerable strangers, to murdering people he knew,” Rackauckas said. “It is chilling to know, that these murders took place two months before the murders of four homeless men began.”

James Patrick McGillivray, 53, was stabbed Dec. 20 near a shopping center in Placentia; Lloyd Middaugh, 42, was found Dec. 28 near a riverbed trail in Anaheim; Paulus Smit, 57, was stabbed to death outside a Yorba Linda library on Dec. 30; and John Berry, 64, was stabbed to death outside a fast-food restaurant on Jan. 13, the day Ocampo was arrested after authorities said a witness helped chase him down.

I had a bad feeling that they would connect him to more murders.

Eder Herrera has not been completely cleared either. It seems that the police think that he might have been involved.

“At this point we have not conclusively eliminated Mr. Herrera as a suspect in the case,” Rackauckas said.

Rackauckas said Herrera spent the night of the killings driving around with a friend and passed by the crime scene and did not want to stop and check on his family.

A witness had identified a person he believed to be Herrera as dragging something from the front door threshold of the home into the house, Rackauckas said. Based on evidence at the scene, it appeared that Juan Herrera had attempted to escape out the front door before being dragged back inside by the killer.

It is hard to say if the police actually have something against Ed or if they are trying to save face for arresting him.

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