Man Charged in Violent Crime Series Involving Stabbing, Carjacking That Left 2 Women in Critical Condition in Lake Forest

James Carlos Melendrez is seen in a booking photo released by the Orange County Sheriff's Department on April 17, 2019.

James Carlos Melendrez is seen in a booking photo released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department on April 17, 2019.

A 25-year-old man pleaded not guilty to 15 counts stemming from a sprawling crime series in which he allegedly carjacked a BMW after he broke into a Lake Forest family’s home and chased a mother from the residence before stabbing her in the street last month, officials said.

James Carlos Melendrez, 25, of Anaheim, denied the long list of charges: two counts of attempted murder causing great bodily injury; two counts of attempted murder; two counts of attempted carjacking; two counts of battery; two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, a car; one count of assault with a deadly weapon, a knife; one count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury; one count of first-degree residential burglary; one count of attempted aggravated mayhem; and one count of aggravated trespassing of a dwelling, according to Orange County District Attorney’s office.

The violent rampage was carried out in a span of less than 10 minutes the evening of April 16, investigators said.

It began when Melendrez got into a fight near the Salvation Army on Rockfield Boulevard, O.C. sheriff’s officials said.

The defendant ran from there into an apartment unit on Ridge Route Drive, where one of the two occupants who were home chased him out, authorities said.

Melendrez is then accused of smashing through a glass sliding-glass door into the home of Marylou Villalobos Palos, who was inside with her two teenage daughters. Evelyn Palos, 15, described the incident as “something out of a horror movie.”

The mother ran from the home in an attempt to lure Melendrez away from her children, and the suspect grabbed a knife from the family’s kitchen and chased after her, authorities said.

Marylou Villalobos Palos is seen, left, in an undated photo provided by her family, and at right in a still from home surveillance footage as she ran from an assailant who wound up stabbing her on April 16, 2019, in Lake Forest.

Marylou Villalobos Palos is seen, left, in an undated photo provided by her family, and at right in a still from home surveillance footage as she ran from an assailant who wound up stabbing her on April 16, 2019, in Lake Forest.

Melendrez caught up with the woman at the end of a cul-de-sac and allegedly stabbed her several times on Mullin Road.

Occupants of a BMW that was driving by at the time pulled over and tried to halt the attack. Melendrez did stop, but began chasing the good Samaritans instead and stole their car, according to detectives.

The defendant allegedly headed to Muirlands Boulevard via Lake Forest Drive, maneuvering dangerously and veering into the opposing lane of traffic as he did so. He then ran over a woman in her 50s who was walking on the sidewalk, officials said.

He continued driving but crashed into another vehicle on Aspan Street, then ran into a nearby mobile home park where he tried to break into a residence but failed, investigators said.

The alarming ordeal came to an end as Melendrez was allegedly trying to carjack other vehicles on Muirlands Boulevard and a bicyclist pepper=sprayed him.

Deputies were subsequently able to take Melendrez into custody.

Both Villalobos Palos and the female pedestrian were hospitalized in critical condition but have been recovering. Melendrez was also taken to a hospital before being booked into jail.

He’s scheduled to return to court for a pre-trial hearing on July 26.

The defendant remains in custody on $2 million bail, inmate records show.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.