Photo: James McGillivray and Lloyd Middaugh were among the victims. (KTLA-TV)
Orange County police officials are asking for the public's help in identifying what they call a "serious, dangerous serial killer operating in Orange County."
Police believe one person is responsible for stabbing three middle-aged homeless men between Dec. 20 and 30. The men were stabbed multiple times, said Anaheim Police Chief John Welter during a news conference Wednesday morning.
"We believe these murders were likely committed by the same suspect and feel he is extremely dangerous to the public," Welter said.
At one murder scene, police obtained a photograph of the suspect as he approached a victim. Police said the suspect is a male who was wearing a dark hoodie or sweater.
Welter said that investigators, including the FBI, believe that a white 4-door Toyota was involved in the crime, as shown in a surveillance video.
"This vehicle is of particular interest to homicide investigators," Welter said.
Police declined to release further information about the murders, such as a motive and if the men were sleeping during the attacks.
Police said that two attacks occurred at night and one during the late afternoon and are urging the homeless to stay aware of surroundings.
Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said the coroner's office and the Orange County crime lab are working to expedite evidence.
"We want to get the information out to our homeless community throughout the county to be careful to not be alone if possible, to not go into the dark areas or isolated areas as much as possible," she said.
The body of the first victim, James Patrick McGillivray, 53, was found near a shopping center in Placentia on Dec. 21. Police said their best lead so far is footage from a security camera that showed a man of thin build and average height, dressed in black and "lying in wait."
A week later, the body of Lloyd Middaugh, 42, was found on a riverbed trail near Tustin Avenue in Anaheim. A third man, Paulus Smit, 57, was found dead with stab wounds outside a library in Yorba Linda last Friday.
On Tuesday, police officials announced that they had formed a task force to investigate the incident.
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