Jul 28, 2014
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Accused Serial Killer Apparently Died From Ingesting Ajax

An official cause of death has not been released, but a prosecutor suggested Itzcoatl Ocampo died from ingesting the cleanser.

Accused Serial Killer Apparently Died From Ingesting Ajax


By City News Service

An accused serial killer housed in the Orange County Jail apparently died after ingesting a cleanser, according to an email sent by a prosecutor. 

Itzcoatl Ocampo, 25, who allegedly killed six people, was discovered by guards in his single-man cell at Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana. Ocampo was shaking and vomiting. Guards immediately called for medical attention, according to Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock.

Paramedics rushed Ocampo, an Iraq War veteran, to Western Medical Center at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday. He was pronounced dead at 1:38 p.m. Thursday inside the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

Ocampo's official cause of death has not been announced. His autopsy is tentatively scheduled for early next week and toxicology results will not be available for several weeks, Hallock said.

Orange County prosecutor Suzi Aramesh Price sent an email Thursday to victims' family members saying that Ocampo was on life support.

"It seems that Mr. Ocampo tried to kill himself by ingesting Ajax last night," she wrote.

Later in the day, she sent a second email saying that Ocampo had died.

Hallock said cleaning products are given to county jail inmates in small amounts upon request, but he stopped short of saying that Ocampo died from ingesting Ajax.

"To say a cleaning product was the cause of his death would be inappropriate based on the fact that it is an ongoing investigation being handled by the district attorney," he said.

One of Ocampo's attorneys, Michael Molfetta, said physicians at one point were optimistic they could save him.

"My understanding is the doctors did whatever they could do for him,' Molfetta said. "At one point there was some optimism no matter how guarded it was."

Molfetta said he was angry about his client's death, raising questions about how closely he was being monitored.

"The bottom line is that when they do the autopsy it's my understanding they're going to find something in his system that shouldn't be in his system," Molfetta said, adding that Ocampo's jailers "failed miserably."

"Whether it was murder or suicide it shouldn't have happened," he said. "Of all the people in jail, you'd think Izzy Ocampo was one they should keep a close eye on."

Ocampo's mother told City News Service she remains in shock over her son's sudden death.

"I don't know what to do. I don't know what the next step is,' a teary- eyed Lilia Ocampo said through an interpreter. "Nobody told me that I could see him. They told me that he was brain dead. They didn't tell me anything about my son because he was in custody."

Molfetta said he would like to be involved in the District Attorney's Office's investigation of Ocampo's death.

"I'd like to be involved to make sure, frankly, that one area of law enforcement doesn't give a pass to another area of law enforcement,' he said.

Molfetta and Ocampo's other attorney, Randall Longwith, were preparing an insanity defense for their client. They were preparing to prove that Ocampo's time in the Marine Corps affected his sanity.

Ocampo had been suspected of killing four homeless men in Orange County in December 2011 as well as a mother and son in October 2011.

Ocampo was arrested on Jan. 13, 2012 shortly after the death of John Berry, who was allegedly killed in an attack about a quarter-mile behind a Carl's Jr. at 3110 E. La Palma Ave. in Anaheim.

The first of the four men Ocampo is suspected of killing was 53-year-old James McGillivray, attacked as he slept outside a Placentia shopping center. Eight days later, the body of Lloyd Middaugh, 42, turned up on Anaheim's Santa Ana River Trail. On Dec. 30, 57-year-old Paulus Cornelius Smit was found dead behind the Yorba Linda library.

Ocampo was also charged in the deaths of Raquel Estrada, 53, and her 34- year-old son, Juan Herrera.  He was to stand trial in May 2014.

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas had announced that prosecutors would seek the death penalty.   

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