Adonis Diaries

Killing for the thrill? Is that what soldiers serving in Iraq do?

Posted on: January 23, 2012

Killing for the thrill? Is that what soldiers serving in Iraq do?

Itzcoatl Ocampo is 23-year-old, a slender former Marine, and was considered a troubled man after he returned from Iraq in 2008.   Itzcoatl’s father, Refugio Ocampo, said that his son came back from his deployment a changed man:  his son expressed disillusionment and became ever darker as he struggled to find his way. After Itzcoatl was discharged in 2010 and returned home, his parents separated.  So what’s new here?

A neighbor, a Vietnam veteran, and Ocampo’s father both tried to encourage Itzcoatl to get treatment at a veterans’ hospital, but he refused.  The same month, one of Itzcoatl’s friends, a corporal, was killed during combat in Afghanistan, and Ocampo visited his friend’s grave twice a week.  Again, what’s new in this story?

A newspaper in SANTA ANA (California) reported “An Iraq war veteran charged with stabbing to death four homeless men in Southern California was a thrill seeker who took pleasure in killing his victims, prosecutors said Wednesday”.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters outside a jailhouse courtroom that 23-year-old suspect Itzcoatl Ocampo appeared lucid, calm and intelligent and showed no signs of mental illness.  Rackauckas said“He gets a thrill out of it. This is a serious, vicious killer who went out there intentionally going about killing people and terrorizing a whole area.”

Ocampo was charged Tuesday with four counts of murder and special allegations of multiple murders and lying in wait and use of a deadly weapon. Three victims were stabbed more than 40 times each, with a single-edged blade at least 7-inches (17-centimeters) long, authorities said.

After the brief hearing, defense attorney Randall Longwith declined to comment on the allegations and said his main concern was gaining access to Ocampo, who was being held in a medical ward, wearing only underwear and wrapped in a blanket designed to prevent him from hurting himself, and denied visitors.

Longwith told reporters: “We’re just concerned that he hasn’t really had access to an attorney or to anyone at this point.  He seems very scared.”

Ocampo was arrested Friday night when bystanders chased him down after a man was stabbed to death outside a fast-food restaurant in Anaheim, about 26 miles (42 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. He was caught with blood on his hands and face. Authorities have not decided whether to seek the death penalty.

Ocampo will be given a psychological evaluation and is being held in isolation and monitored around the clock to prevent him from hurting himself or being harmed by other inmates, said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the county sheriff’s department.

The killing spree began in December and prompted police to fan out across the county known as the home to Disneyland and multimillion-dollar beachfront homes to urge the homeless to sleep in groups or in one of two wintertime shelters.

Police allege that Ocampo would stalk each of his victims, then stab them repeatedly with a knife that could cut through bone. He selected his last victim, 64-year-old John Berry, after he was featured in a Los Angeles Times story about the killing spree, prosecutors said.

Berry filed a police report the day before he died, saying he feared he was being stalked, but officers didn’t have a chance to follow up amid a flood of nearly 600 leads and tips.

“It is unfortunate that we didn’t get to him before the suspect did,” Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said.  Like the homeless men Ocampo is accused of preying on, Itzcoatl’s father is also homeless. His father lost his job and ended up living under a bridge before finding shelter in the cab of a broken-down big-rig he is helping to repair.

Days before his arrest, Ocampo visited his father, warning him of the danger of being homeless. He showed him a picture of one of the slain men, his father said. “He was very worried about me,” his father said. “I told him, ‘Don’t worry. I’m a survivor. Nothing will happen to me.'”

Note 1https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/i-am-returning-home-crippled-from-iraq-after-the-battlefield-suffering/

Note 2:  Associated Press writer Kevin Freking in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

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