California Transcript: Serial killer suspect stalked victims

By Amy Taxin

Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- A former Marine described in chilling detail how he watched a homeless man fall asleep near a riverbed trail, then moved in and began stabbing him, a detective told a grand jury.

When the man asked what he was doing, Itzcoatl Ocampo said he was there to kill him, Anaheim police detective Daron Wyatt testified.

Lloyd Middaugh was one of four homeless men Ocampo is charged with stalking and stabbing to death in a killing spree that terrorized Orange County in December and January.

The 30-year-old also faces two additional murder charges for the October murders of his high school friend Eder Herrera's mother and brother in Yorba Linda. He has pleaded not guilty.

The pair became the first two victims in what Ocampo told investigators was a plan to murder 16 people in a killing spree modeled after Texas murderer and fellow former Marine Charles Whitman.

Ocampo also told investigators he had no history of psychological problems and felt the need to kill to become a "real Marine" after working as a truck driver during his military service, according to a 179-page grand jury transcript made public this week.

Ocampo told investigators he had planned to kill Herrera after the two had a falling out last year, and Herrera's family because they "seemed to have an attitude" when he was at their house, according to the proceedings, which took place in February.

Brea police detective Phil Rodriguez told the grand jury Herrera left the house but he went ahead with his plan to stab Herrera's 53-year-old mother Raquel Pacheco and 34-year-old brother Juan Carlos Herrera Estrada.

Ocampo told investigators he started to kill homeless men because they were "available and vulnerable" and continued stabbing his victims even after believing they were dead, according to the testimony, some of which was first reported by the Orange County Register late Wednesday.

Ocampo said he looked at Penthouse magazine before the attacks "to pump himself up," Wyatt told the grand jury.

"He seemed to get excited when he was talking about the actual kill," Wyatt testified. "So, I asked him if he was aroused by the act of killing."

Ocampo at first questioned the word arousal, according to the transcript, but then added, "my balls felt like they were going to explode, and I knew that I had the killer gene."

Wyatt testified that he asked Ocampo whether he thought he deserved a negative consequence for his decision to kill.

"He told me that he believed he deserved the death penalty, and he said lethal injection or whatever is quickest."

Ocampo told investigators he served a six-month tour of duty in Iraq and was discharged honorably from the Marines in 2010, according to the transcript.

Ocampo was arrested in January after a witness helped chase down a suspect following the stabbing of a fourth homeless victim outside a fast-foot restaurant in Anaheim, about 26 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Ocampo was initially charged with the four murders and prosecutors last month added charges for the Yorba Linda killings. He was indicted after the grand jury proceedings in February.

Victim James Patrick McGillivray, 53, was stabbed Dec. 20 near a shopping center in Placentia; Middaugh, 42, was found Dec. 28 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 on Jan. 13 outside the restaurant.

Herrera was initially charged with the murder of his brother and mother but the charges were dropped last month. Prosecutors said they no longer had enough evidence to hold Herrera after finding DNA that linked Ocampo to the crime but said Herrera is still under investigation for the murders.

A message was left Thursday for Ocampo's attorney, Randall Longwith.

If convicted, Ocampo could face the death penalty. The district attorney has not yet decided whether to seek capital punishment in the case.

Published: Mon, Mar 19, 2012