The man accused of a serial “thrill-killing” spree in Orange County that claimed the lives of six people died Thursday after sheriff deputies found him sick in his cell and before he could ever stand trial for his accusations.
Sheriff deputies in Santa Ana, California, found Itzcoatl “Izzy” Ocampo ill in his cell on Wednesday evening. He was then transferred to Western Medical Center where he died at 1:30 on Thursday afternoon. A routine investigation of the in-custody death will be conducted by the Orange County district attorney’s office. That investigation is expected to take several weeks.
Ocampo was expected to have a pre-trial hearing in January and prosecutors were seeking the death penalty. However, his death means that relatives of his victims will never see him really held accountable for his actions.
Ocampo’s defense attorney, Randall Longwith had noted that his client had complained of hearing voices and had been behaving in an erratic fashion.
Ocampo is responsible for the stabbing death of his childhood friend, Juan Herrera, and his friend’s mother, Raquel Estrada in October of 2011. Later, he would murder three homeless men in the last two weeks of December 2011.
The first homeless man was James McGillivray, age 53. He was murdered by Ocampo while sleeping outside a mall on December 20 , 2011. 42-year-old Lloyd Middaugh was found stabbed to death on the Santa Ana River Trail eight days later. 57-year-old Paulus Cornelius Smit was found dead, also of stab wounds, on December 30, 2011 behind the Yorba Linda library.
On January 13, 2012, Ocampo followed a fourth homeless man that he had been stalking for several days into a parking lot and stabbed him to death. This time, however, there was a witness. The witness began chasing him into a mobile home park where he was captured. In the killings of all four homeless men, police say Ocampo used a Ka-bar Bull Dozier knife.
Several members of Ocampo’s family said after his arrest that there was no way that he could be responsible for the death of the four homeless men. The events, at the time, had caused much fear among the homeless population of Orange County. According to them, the former Marine who was originally from Yorba Linda, California, always exhibited generosity to homeless people and often was observed giving money and food to panhandlers.
However, prosecutors said that not only did Ocampo target, stalk, and kill homeless men, he had a personal goal of murdering 12 more.
After his arrest, Ocampo told police that he chose homeless people as his victims because of their vulnerability and availability. He also said that he believed he was performing a public service. He said that homeless people were a cancer on his community.
One detective from Anaheim told the grand jurors that Ocampo would change in demeanor and even get noticeably excited as he began to give the details of the slayings to law enforcement officials. He even admitted to joining the Marine Corps in 2006 with the hope that he was going to learn how to kill. He was actually disappointed that he spent six months on a tour in Iraq and only drove a water truck and never saw combat. This was all written in the grand jury hearing transcripts.
In preparation for his upcoming trial,Ocampo was asked, according to the same detective, what type of consequence or punishment he felt he deserved. Without hesitation, Ocampo said that he deserved the death penalty by lethal injection unless there was a quicker way to die.
By Rick Hope