ANAHEIM (Reuters) - A man who was cornered and arrested after knifing to death a street dweller is responsible in the serial slaying of three other homeless men in Southern California, police said on Saturday.
Anaheim Police Chief John Welter linked 23-year-old Itzcoatl Ocampo to all four killings one day after his arrest.
The stabbing deaths put homeless men and women in Orange County on edge in recent weeks, as authorities said they were looking for the culprit in the recent serial killings.
Bystanders at the scene of a Friday night knifing attack in the parking lot of an Anaheim fast food restaurant chased Ocampo and gave police a detailed description, police said. Officers then set up a perimeter and the suspect was arrested, he said.
"After further investigation by the homicide task force we are extremely confident that we have the man who is responsible for the murders of all four homeless men in Orange County," Welter said.
"We plan to request from the district attorney that he be charged with four counts of murder," the chief added.
Police declined to share more details on how they linked Ocampo to all four slayings, and they did not provide any possible motive for the killings, which has angered groups that provide services to transients.
The case is the first serial slaying in more than two decades to hit Orange County, a largely suburban area southeast of Los Angeles, said Anaheim Police spokesman Sergeant Bob Dunn.
Ocampo, who was being held without bail in the Anaheim jail, is from nearby Yorba Linda, police said.
Police on Saturday withheld identification of the latest slain man until his family could be notified.
Local law enforcement agencies and the FBI formed a task force to investigate the killings, which began with the December 20 stabbing death of a man. The other three homeless men were also stabbed, culminating in the knifing attack on the latest victim, police said.
"I want to thank the concerned citizens and ordinary individuals who were brave enough after witnessing such a heinous crime to follow this individual and make sure he was actually arrested and stopped from committing further homicides," state Senator Lou Correa, who represents the area, told reporters.
(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson; editing by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Dan Burns)Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times