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Accused O.C. serial killer dies before trial in homeless slayings

Accused O.C. serial killer dies before trial in homeless slayings
Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo, in court in Santa Ana last year, was awaiting trial on charges that he killed four homeless men and a Yorba Linda woman and her son. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

A man charged in a "serial thrill-kill" rampage that left six people dead, including four homeless men and a woman and her son, died Thursday after being found sick in his jail cell, an Orange County Sheriff's spokesman said.

Deputies found Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo, 25, ill in his single-man cell about 6:35 p.m. Wednesday at Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, said Lt. Jeff Hallock. Medical staff at the jail attended to him and paramedics transported him to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, Hallock said.

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Ocampo was pronounced dead at the hospital about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Hallock said.

For months Ocampo went undetected, authorities said, as a string of killings occurred in north Orange County, starting with the stabbing death of a childhood friend and his mother in their Yorba Linda home in October 2011. The killings continued on the streets with the slayings of homeless men.

A former Marine from Yorba Linda, Ocampo was arrested in January 2012 in Anaheim after the fourth homeless man, John Berry, 64, was killed outside a fast-food restaurant.

Prosecutors said Ocampo would select homeless men and stalk them, waiting for the perfect moment to end their lives. He set a personal goal of 16 slayings, authorities said.

Ocampo told police that he targeted the homeless because they were "available and vulnerable" and that he believed he was performing a public service because their presence was a "blight" on the community.

Ocampo had yet to be tried in the killings when he died, and Orange County prosecutors were seeking the death penalty.

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Twitter: @haileybranson

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