Homeless men in southern California are being warned by police to stick together and remain on high alert for a suspected serial killer who may be preying on them.
The murders of three homeless, middle-aged men since Dec. 20 have police scrambling to caution the "significant" homeless population in Orange County, according to Anaheim police spokesman Sgt. Bob Dunn.
All three men were stabbed to death by their attacker, who police believe is a man captured on surveillance video during one of the crimes. The deaths occurred in Anaheim, Yorba Linda, and Placentia, from Dec. 20 to Dec. 30.
Anaheim police, together with neighboring police departments, the county sheriff, and the FBI, are warning homeless people throughout the area to take precautions, including traveling and sleeping in well-lit, well-populated areas. They have launched a campaign to get the information to the vulnerable population, handing out fliers, notifying homeless shelters and soup kitchens, and asking churches to notify those who seek services, Dunn said.
They are also asking the homeless to report any suspicious behavior, which they are often reluctant to do, the police spokesman said.
The victims were alone when the attacks happened, said Dunn. But two of the murders occurred in public spaces, one at a strip mall around 8 p.m., and one outside of a library just before closing time, around 5 p.m. Passersby reported the crimes to the police, he said.
The other victim was killed along a riverside trail and discovered during the early morning hours by a jogger.
Dunn said that the killer is extremely dangerous, and the homeless population throughout the area is at risk. He described the county as having a significant homeless population.
Police are asking the public to call in with any helpful information to the task force hotline: 714-765-1944.