Vulnerable homeless targets highlight pervasive issues

A letter to the Orange County, California, District Attorney regarding the recent arrest of the alleged “serial killer” of four homeless men in Orange County, former Marine Itzcoatl Ocampo.

District Attorney Rackauckas:

I am a rehabilitation psychologist. My areas of specialty are psychiatric disabilities and brain injuries. I interned on the Psychology Service at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Syracuse, New York and I work with chronically homeless people.

Ocampo’s arrest highlights two serious societal issues: 1) Many returning combat veterans suffer from mental health disorders. The Veterans Administration is in the best position to – and should – provide treatment. 2) Victim John Berry, reported to be a Viet Nam veteran, should have been able to benefit from the same medical and psychological treatment and he should also have been provided with safe housing by the Veterans Administration.

It has been reported that Ocampo was hearing voices; if so, this is a symptom of a major psychiatric disorder and I expect that your office will seriously consider his mental state as you prosecute him for these heinous killings.

Ocampo’s highly vulnerable homeless targets highlight pervasive homelessness issues that are present all across our country, particularly among our nation’s military veterans. I urge you to support as many homeless initiatives in Orange County as you are able.

Respectfully yours,
Mary M. McLaughlin, Ph.D.

Mary M. McLaughlin is a frequent contributor to Spare Change News.