SANTA ANA, Calif. - The Orange County District Attorney's office Thursday announced charges against a man accused of poisoning eight homeless people, including an elderly person, in a series of attacks that were videotaped to record the victims’ reactions to eating food laced with oleoresin capsicum, which is twice as strong as the pepper spray used by police.
William Robert Cable, 38, of San Andreas, was charged with eight felony counts of poisoning, one felony count of inflicting injury on an elderly person, eight misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and an infraction for consuming alcohol or smoking marijuana while driving.
The victims, who were all poisoned in the city of Huntington Beach, suffered a variety of symptoms including seizure-like symptoms, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and intense mouth and stomach pain, according to the prosecutors. Several of the victims required hospitalization.
Authorities are now asking for the public’s help identifying additional victims and suspects in connection with the series of poisonings which began in mid-May.
“These human beings were preyed upon because they are vulnerable,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “They were exploited and poisoned as part of a twisted form of entertainment, and their pain was recorded so that it could be relived by their attacker over and over again."
Prosecutors said that many of the victims were unaware the food they were being given had been tampered with prior to eating it.
"Several victims were given other food and beer to entice them to eat the poisoned food," prosecutors wrote in a press release.
Cable was arrested on May 22 by the Huntington Beach Police Department.
He faces a maximum of 19 years and three months if convicted on all charges. Cable is currently being held at the Orange County Jail on $500,000 bail.
“The cruel nature of these crimes shocks the conscience of our community,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta.
“The inhumane nature of the crimes combined with targeting a vulnerable population shocks the conscience,” said Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy. “The fact an adult criminal would involve a juvenile is even more reprehensible.”
Prosecutors said some of the victims were told they were participating in a “spicy food challenge” before being given the food laced with oleoresin capsicum; others were not.
“Orange County has worked hard to address the homeless crises. It is unacceptable to see someone target these vulnerable people. These individuals do not deserve to become the target of acts of cruelty simply because they are homeless,” said Michelle Steel, Chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.