The documentary “Murder by Numbers: Friend of the Devil” on Investigation Discovery tells the story of a Mexican-American man named Itzcoatl Ocampo who is suspected of being a serial killer and who targeted helpless homeless men like its victims. The United States Marine Corps veteran is believed to be responsible for at least six deaths, all of which led to his conviction. These murders took place in California during the years 2011 and 2012. Would you like to know more about the victims in addition to what happened with Itzcoatl?
Who were the victims of Itzcoatl Ocampo?
James McGillivray was 53 and had shaggy hair that was fading. He had a wrinkled face that was covered with a shaggy beard that was turning gray. Along the banks of the Santa Ana River in South Los Angeles, where a homeless population lives, he was a well-known figure. On December 20, 2011, witnesses in Placentia, California saw James hanging out outside a liquor store before stepping out to spend the night on the sidewalk outside an area mall. Later, authorities will view one of the mall’s surveillance videos and observe how James was brutally murdered by being stabbed in the head and upper torso with a large caliber Ka-Bar knife approximately 52 times.
Lloyd Middaugh, who was 42 at the time, was a registered sex offender. On December 27, 2011, he was found asleep under Highway 91 in Anaheim, California. He used to reside in local shelters, but was unable to find one that night. Later, it was discovered that he had received sixty stab wounds, his head and neck had been smashed, and he had several fractured ribs. After performing an autopsy, the Anaheim Police Department medical examiner found that Lloyd had suffered a deep laceration on his thyroid gland, a fractured temporal bone, and a deep penetrating injury to his brain. These injuries ultimately led to his death.
Paulus Cornelius Smit, 57, had long struggled with a terrible drug addiction. After authorities red-marked a dilapidated property he was living in as habitable due to his condition, Smit was left without a home. His beloved bicycle and visits to the Yorba Linda Public Library were two of his favorite ways to pass the time in the past. On December 30, 2011, he discovered his bike had been stolen and he was waiting for his daughter to pick it up as he was hurting himself under the library stairs. He had 56 stab wounds to his head, back and neck, and the knife had also severed his jugular vein and lacerated his heart. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
John Berry served in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later became an avid birdwatcher. An Anaheim Police Department officer approached him to discuss the threat posed by an unidentified individual suspected of being a serial killer and targeting the homeless community. A photographer from the Los Angeles Times captured the interaction between the two guys in a photo, and John’s photo was published in an article during the first week of January 2012. After the story was published, John called the police several times to report that he was being followed and he claimed it was because of the article.
When he was attacked on January 13, 2012, around 8:45 p.m., behind a fast food restaurant in the middle of a parking lot in Anaheim, he realized that his suspicions were well founded. The hoodie-wearing assailant punched him in the head, then continued to stab him until he was dead. On the other hand, the witnesses were this time numerous in the area, and they were able to hunt down the murderer while contacting the authorities.
Authorities later investigated blood found on the killer’s shoes to prove he was responsible for the murders of Raquel Estrada, who was 53, and Juan Estrada, who was 34. On October 25, 2011, they were both stabbed to death, with Raquel receiving around 30 stab wounds and Juan around 60.
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How did Itzcoatl Ocampo die?
Itzcoatl Ocampo was apprehended a few hundred yards from the crime scene as he attempted to flee the parking lot that had been cordoned off by Anaheim police officers. He surrendered to the officers without causing any trouble and the murder weapon, a bloody Ka-Bar knife with a 7 inch long blade, was discovered on him by authorities. Itzcoatl Misael Ocampo, a native of Mexico who had moved to Yorba Linda, Calif., with his family, was identified as the killer. Ocampo had moved to California with his family. He had completed four years of service in the Marine Corps and even spent some time in Iraq in 2008 as part of his duty.
Itzcoatl was arrested for John’s murder, but he was also charged with the murders of James, Lloyd, and Paulus when an analysis of the knife determined it was also the same weapon used to commit those homicides. John was the first victim to be killed, but Itzcoatl was ultimately held responsible for all four murders. On January 17, 2012, he was charged with all 4 counts of murder and may face a death sentence if found guilty on all counts. After forensic evidence linked him to the double homicide case, he was also charged with the murders of Raquel and Juan in February 2012. The charges against him were brought as a result of the case.
The family of the attacker had claimed that the killer was mentally unstable, suffered from alcohol abuse and showed signs of clinical delirium. They said Itzcoatl’s PTSD from his Iraq tour, issues he was having with his family and the death of a close friend of his in Afghanistan were all contributing factors. The prosecution didn’t think that was the case and instead focused on his reputation as a brutal serial killer. On January 17, 2014, he was due to stand trial for the offence.
When staff at the Orange County Men’s Central Jail saw Itzcoatl shaking and vomiting on November 27, 2013, at approximately 6:35 p.m., they discovered him in the cell he was occupying at the jail. He was incarcerated there. It was determined at WMC Hospital in Santa Ana, where he was taken when brought there, that he had consumed a lethal dose of Ajax cleaning detergent that he had been stockpiling for weeks. He had been patient there for some time. On November 28, 2013, he was officially declared dead.
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