Surveillance video footage from a nearby business shows the killer was waiting for one of his victims.
Police are seeking the public's help to track down what they say is a dangerous serial killer operating in Orange County who has already claimed three homeless victims.
"We believe these murders are likely committed by the same subject and we feel he is extremely dangerous to the public," said Chief John Welter of the Anaheim Police Department.
All of the stabbings victims were middle-aged homeless men and all were stabbed multiple times Welter said.
Police obtained a photograph of the suspect from a security camera as he approached the victim at one of the murder scenes. He was described as a male who was wearing a dark hoodie or jacket. Police are also searching for a white compact 2000-2003 Toyota Corolla 4-Door that was parked near the scene of the first crime.
Police are circulating flyers and contacting local agencies who work with the homeless, urging them to avoid being alone or in isolated dark areas.
"I'm scared for my extended family out here," said Modesto Vasquez, who is homeless.
The first murder happened in the 100 block of North Bradford Avenue outside a Placentia shopping mall on December 20. James Patrick McGillivray, 53, was fatally stabbed around 8:15 p.m.
The surveillance video footage from a nearby business shows the killer was waiting for McGillivray, Placentia police Lt. Eric Point said.
The second murder occurred about 6:15 a.m. last Wednesday. Anaheim police were called when someone on a bike trail east of Tustin Avenue and west of the Riverside (91) Freeway saw the body of 42-year-old Anaheim transient Lloyd Middaugh.
Then on Friday just before 5 p.m., 57-year- old Paulus Cornelius Smit was found at the bottom of a stairwell outside a library at 18181 Imperial Highway in Yorba Linda. Paramedics tried to revive Smit, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, Griffin said.
Police did not disclose any motive in the case.
Officials merged the three investigations to form a homicide task force in the Anaheim Police Department.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the homicide task force at 714-765-1944 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.