By PAUL ANDERSON
City News Service
An attorney for a suspected serial killer, who ingested a fatal dose of Ajax while in custody in the Orange County Jail last year, said today he believes his client was likely schizophrenic and that his murderous spree may have been inspired in part by an Eminem CD and a Dead Kennedys song.
Itzcoatl Ocampo also sustained a traumatic brain injury while he was serving in the Marine Corps in Iraq, attorney Randall Longwith told City News Service. Ocampo's non-combat injury occurred while he was repairing a Humvee, Longwith said.
The 25-year-old inmate's Thanksgiving Day death -- he was found sick in his cell Nov. 27 and died 18 hours later -- remains under investigation by the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
Ocampo's crime spree started with the fatal stabbings of his friend's mother and brother in Yorba Linda.
After his tour of duty, Ocampo felt compelled to kill his friend, Eder Giovanni Herrera, when he saw his high school buddy with a small pair of "children's" scissors in his hand, Longwith said.
"He sees that out of the corner of his eye and it puts a terror through his body," Longwith said. "In his mind, he interprets that as 'Eder is going to kill me' ... and that gets everything going and now Eder is this crazy threat."
Ocampo felt as if he received a message while looking through the liner notes of an Eminem CD, Longwith said.
"At that point it says (to him) k-i-l-l m-e, and he says he puts his finger on the 'M' (in Eminem's name) and he goes, 'Look, kill me, kill me, kill me, Eder," Longwith said.
"It's almost Helter Skeltery," Longwith said, referring to how killer Charles Manson was supposedly inspired by the Beatles song.
"The ironic part is he doesn't even kill Eder," Longwith said.
Instead, authorities say, Ocampo fatally stabbed Herrera's 53-year-old mother, Raquel, and her 34-year-old son, Juan Herrera, in their Yorba Linda home on Oct. 25, 2011.
Eder Herrera was initially charged with killing his mother and brother, but the charges were later dropped when Ocampo confessed to the crimes and DNA evidence connected him to the stabbings.
After killing his friend's mother and brother, Ocampo started targeting the homeless.
"There's a song he heard, as well, when he's going through all this," Longwith said, referring to the Dead Kennedys' "Kill the Poor."
"It's just a chant, 'Kill, kill, kill the poor,' so that's another song he hooked onto," Longwith said.
Ocampo also appeared to have been obsessed with the homeless because his father was a transient at the time and the defendant feared he would be on the streets, as well, Longwith said.
When Ocampo spoke with his attorneys about the homeless victims, "He wasn't saying, 'I hate these people.' He saw himself and these people and he knew at that time he was going nowhere because of his illness," Longwith said. "Everything was kind of roundabout. He would say, 'I didn't want to become that."'
Ocampo's explanations made little sense, the attorney said.
"He's angry, he's saddened that's where he's going to end up, that's where his father ended up," Longwith said. "There's no rational explanation for it. These are the meanderings of a disturbed mind."
The accident that led to the traumatic brain injury didn't help matters, but Longwith is convinced that Ocampo's true break from reality came when he was told that his best friend, Claudio Patino IV, was killed in action in Afghanistan in June 2010.
Ocampo's friends in the Marines noticed "he changed in that moment," Longwith said.
Experts were considering whether Ocampo may have suffered "late onset schizophrenia," Longwith said.
Ocampo also appeared to be upset that Patino became an honored sharpshooter in the service while Ocampo was a POG, a "person other than a grunt."
Prompted by the 911 terrorist attacks, Ocampo and Patino signed up for the Marines.
"When Izzy joins up, he's 17. His father had to sign the documents in order for him to enlist in the Marines," Longwith said. "The guilt he has from that now is still so palpable."
Longwith and his partner on the case, attorney Michael Molfetta, were preparing to change Ocampo's plea to not guilty by reason of insanity when the defendant ingested the household cleaner on Thanksgiving weekend last year.
"There was no doubt that's where we were going to go, that's where we had to go and where we should have gone," Longwith said.
"He (Ocampo) had a lot of problems," Molfetta said. "He was one troubled person, and that would be the understatement of my career. Not that it excuses anything ... but clearly he was schizophrenic. You name it, he had it."
Senior Deputy District Attorney Susan Price, who was prosecuting Ocampo, said she believed the defendant was a cold-blooded killer.
"We never had a forensic psychologist test him," Price said. "He definitely knew what he was doing, but, again, we didn't have a forensic examination and I'm not privy to anything Randy has (in evidence)."
As for recent broadcast reports showing snippets of Ocampo's videotaped interview with investigators, his attorneys said the clips don't show how their client "rambled" throughout the interrogation.
Longwith said there were times when the investigators left the room that Ocampo started muttering about President John Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.
The statements were also made within hours of Ocampo's final homicide.
"As you continue to watch it, I don't think there's any more evidence of how mentally ill he was than simply watching and listening to that tape, which is, again, within a few hours at most of the final homicide," Longwith said.
The first homeless victim was 53-year-old James McGillivray, who was attacked as he slept outside a Placentia shopping center on Dec. 20, 2011.
Eight days later, the body of Lloyd "Jim" Middaugh, 42, turned up on Anaheim's Santa Ana River Trail. Paulus Cornelius "Dutch" Smit, 57, was found dead behind the Yorba Linda library on Dec. 30 of that year.
Ocampo was arrested Jan. 13, 2012, shortly after he allegedly stabbed a fourth transient, John Berry, in Anaheim and was chased into a nearby mobile home park.