The man arrested in connection with the Friday night killing of a homeless man in Anaheim is being held as the main suspect in a month-long string of transient murders in Orange County.
"We are extremely confident that we have the man who is responsible for the killing of four homeless people," Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters said in a press conference Saturday afternoon.
Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, of Yorba Linda, is being held at the Anaheim Jail without bail, said Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn, a department spokesman.
Friday's stabbing was the fourth such killing of a homeless person in OC.
Officials will ask the District Attorney to pursue four counts of murder against Ocampo, Walter said during the press conference.
"This is great news to know that's been caught," Brad Olsen, brother-in-law of victim Lloyd Middaugh, told NBC 4. "Prayers have been answered. We feel blessed that it's over."
Middaugh was one of four homeless men killed in the area since December. James McGillivray, 53, was stabbed to death Dec. 20 near a Placentia shopping mall. Lloyd Middaugh, 42, was found on the Santa Ana River trail in Anaheim on Dec. 28. Paul Cornelius Smit, 57, was killed outside a Yorba Linda library on Dec. 30.
The latest victim, John, was killed after 8 p.m. Friday behind a Carl's Jr., at 3110 E. La Palma Ave.
The victim has not been identified, but locals called him “John” and believe he is a Vietnam War vet in his mid-60s.
Anaheim Deputy Chief Craig Hunter said the man arrested fits the description of a man wanted in three stabbing deaths - in Anaheim, Placentia and Yorba Linda - dating to Dec. 20.
“I saw (John) at CVS about a week ago and I started crying when he said he wanted to leave the area and I hugged him,” a woman told NBC4. “But then I saw him and I was so happy he was still here, but I've been busy and I didn't have time the last couple of days to say 'hi.'”
The suspect, chased away by some people who saw him running, was caught on La Palma about a quarter-mile away in next-door Yorba Linda.
Police were believed to be questioning more than two dozen witnesses, whom they recognized as "brave citizens" during the public meeting Saturday.
A task force of local police and the FBI had been set up to investigate three homeless men who were killed in December at the hands of what police believed was a serial killer.
A surveillance camera in Placentia captured images of the suspect, a thin man wearing a dark-hooded sweater, who may have been driving a four-door Toyota Corolla.