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Serial killer targeting homeless

Police and a community group have warned homeless people in California not to sleep alone on the streets because a serial killer has already murdered three of them.

The Orange County Rescue Mission has been handing out torches and whistles to the homeless in an effort to help them protect themselves, said Jim Palmer, the group's president.

The group is encouraging homeless people to sleep in groups or go to a shelter.

Darryl Bossier, 49, says he sleeps outside the Orange County administration building in central Santa Ana - one of a dozen transients who use the benches that zig-zag across the courtyard as a place to rest each night.

"I'm a watchdog. I don't want them to get anybody," Mr Bossier said of the killer, adding he slept only about four hours a night. "Who wants to wake up next to somebody dead?"

He said he learned of the killings three days ago but would not go to a shelter because he had his mobile phone stolen the last time he slept there.

Authorities have asked for the public's help in finding the killer, as a special task force searches for the suspect.

An image of a suspect from a video surveillance camera in the area where the first victim was killed shows a thin man dressed in a dark hoodie or sweater who appears to be lying in wait for his victim.

The body of the first victim, 53-year-old James McGillivray, was found on December 21 near a Placentia shopping centre. The second victim, 42-year-old Lloyd Middaugh, was found on a riverbed trail in Anaheim a week later.

The third victim, Paulus Smit, 57, was discovered with fatal stab wounds outside a Yorba Linda library, where a photo of him stood at a small candlelit memorial this week.

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