(Reuters) - An Iraq war veteran charged in California with six murders, including the serial "thrill" killings of four homeless men, has died in a hospital where he was being treated for an illness, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said on Thursday.
Itzcoatl Ocampo, a former U.S. Marine, could have faced the death penalty if convicted on six counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances. The charges included the stabbing deaths of four transients in late 2011 and early 2012.
Ocampo died late on Wednesday or early on Thursday and a cause of death has yet to be determined, said Lieutenant Andy Ferguson. No further information was immediately available.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has described Ocampo, who served in the Marines from July 2006 to July 2010 and was deployed to Iraq in 2008, as a heartless "thrill" killer.
Ocampo also was charged with the murders of a high school friend's mother and brother, who were found stabbed to death in their home. He was 23 when he was arrested in early 2012.
Prosecutors said the four homeless men were stabbed dozens of times.
They accused Ocampo of targeting his final victim, John Berry, after the 64-year-old transient was featured in a Los Angeles Times article about the high-profile case.
One of the slayings was captured on a security camera and showed the killer, dressed in dark pants and a black hooded sweatshirt, kneeling on his victim's chest as he stabbed him repeatedly in the head, neck and upper torso.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)