Three homeless men have been stabbed to death in their sleep in Orange County since Dec. 20, in separate yet similar incidents. The transient men were stabbed multiple times as they slept alone.
Sgt. Bob Dunn with the Anaheim Police Department held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to announce a joint investigation and task force by the Brea, Anaheim and Placentia police departments.
Bulletins have been posted and distributed at homeless shelters and camps encouraging cautiousness and suggesting people avoid dark, secluded areas.
On Dec. 21, the body of the first victim, identified as 53-year-old James McGillivray, was found at a Placentia shopping center. Officials have obtained, but not released, a "grainy surveillance video that shows a thin man dressed in black lying in wait and then stabbing McGillivray," according to the O.C. Register.
The body of 42-year-old Lloyd Middaugh was found a week later near the 91 Freeway along the Santa Ana River Trail. And on Friday afternoon, the third victim, 57-year-old Paulus Cornelius Smit, was found at the bottom of a stairwell behind the Yorba Linda library. Smit's daughter says he suffered 15 to 20 stab wounds to the chest, and his bicycle was also stolen. The Amsterdam-born man, known as "Dutch," reportedly built bicycles from scratch.
In areas where homeless people are known to stay, police have increased patrols.
"We are not certain that there is only one suspect," said Dunn.
The man in the grainy surveillance video was described as 18 to 25 years old, and between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall.