Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

News

Family: Suspected OC Homeless Serial Killer Was a Deeply Troubled Iraq Vet

Footage of suspect's arrest. Screenshot/ABC7.
LAist relies on your reader support.
Your tax-deductible gift today powers our reporters and keeps us independent. We rely on you, our reader, not paywalls to stay funded because we believe important news and information should be freely accessible to all.

The family of Itzcoatl Ocampo, who was arrested Friday in connection with the murders of four homeless men in the past month, describe him as a deeply troubled Iraq vet who harbored a troubling secret.

Ocampo's uncle Ifrain Gonzalez told the Los Angeles Times that his nephew had been "sick" ever since he got back from Iraq but he had failed to get the psychological help that he needed. He said Ocampo made appointments to get help several times, but he always canceled. He spent most of his time playing video games, and a recent friend of his had been killed in Afghanistan.

Brian Doyle, a high school friend of his, told the Times that Ocampo had been kicked out of the military, but neither the Times nor the Associated Press could confirm that with military officials.

On Christmas Eve, just four days after the string of homeless killings began, Gonzalez said Ocampo had told a cousin at a holiday party, "I did something terrible, but don't worry."

Support for LAist comes from

Now Ocampo, 23, is the main suspect in the homeless killings, and police believe they have their man. "We are extremely confident that we have the man who is responsible for all four murders of homeless men in Orange County,'' Anaheim police Chief John Welter told City News Service.

Two dozen witnesses linked him to the scene of the most recent killing on Friday, according to CNS. John Berry was found stabbed to death behind a Carl's Jr. in Anaheim, and witnesses chased down a blood-stained Ocampo who was stripping off his clothes as he was fleeing.

In a sad twist of fate, it turns out that Berry was a man the Times interviewed earlier this month about the suspected serial killer. At the time, Berry said that he wasn't worried about the serial killer and he refused to go to a shelter or heed police warnings, but friends of his said he felt like he was being stalked in the days before his death.