ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Police detained a man in connection with the latest stabbing death of a homeless man in Orange County as a task forced investigated if there were any links to the slayings of three other homeless men, believed to be the work of a serial killer.
The dead man was found between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday near a fast-food restaurant at the intersection of La Palma Avenue and Imperial Highway in Anaheim, police said.
Witnesses followed a man who ran from the restaurant parking lot and led police to him, Anaheim police Deputy Chief Craig Hunter told the Orange County Register. He was taken to the Anaheim Police Department for questioning.
Police set up a massive containment area at the crime scene in a search for the killer and scoured nearby neighborhoods, including a mobile home park, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A task force of law enforcement officers from Anaheim, Placentia, Brea, Orange County Sheriff's Department and the FBI was formed to investigate the killings of three other homeless men found stabbed to death in north Orange County since mid-December.
James Patrick McGillivray, 53, was killed near a shopping center in Placentia on Dec. 20; Lloyd Middaugh, 42, was found near a riverbed trail in Anaheim on Dec. 28; and Paulus Smit, 57, was killed outside a Yorba Linda library on Dec. 30.
Police suspect all three were victims of a serial killer. It was not known if the latest death was connected to the other killings, but the Times said the task force is investigating any possible links.
Authorities did not release any information on the man they took into custody. The Register said they declined to speculate if he was behind the earlier homeless slayings, but Hunter acknowledged that "in a very general sense" he matched the physical description of person suspected in the killings.
Police have released grainy photographs captured from surveillance video that show a male suspect dressed in dark clothing. A white, late-model Toyota Corolla is also a vehicle of interest.
Police and advocates have been urging those living on the streets to head inside or buddy up in the wake of the killings.
Earlier Friday, the Orange County sheriff's deputies union announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.