A California man believed to have been the serial killer who stalked homeless people in Orange County last year died yesterday after being found vomiting in his prison cell. Itzcoatl Ocampo, a 25-year-old Iraq veteran, had yet to stand trial for the stabbing murders of four homeless men he apparently picked at random and a mother and son he was acquainted with. He was due for a pre-trial hearing in January and prosecutors were seeking the death penalty, reports the Los Angeles Times. His attorney tells the AP Ocampo ingested Ajax; he had apparently been accumulating the cleaning product over time.
The death "really deprives the victims and the people of California of the ability to put Mr. Ocampo to death on our terms and get justice for the victims of these crimes," says a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office. After the former Marine's arrest, family members said he had been kind and generous to the homeless but prosecutors painted a different picture, saying Ocampo saw the homeless as a blight on society and had set a target of 16 murders. His death raises questions about how well deputies were supervising him, his lawyer says; Ocampo had mental health issues and had been on suicide watch temporarily last year. (Read more Itzcoatl Ocampo stories.)