Randy Kraft was born on the 19th March 1945 in Long Beach, California. One of four children, in 1948 the family moved to Westminster, Orange County. Randy was described as an accident prone child who suffered many injuries at a very young age.
In 1963 Kraft started work at a local gay bar. He started to use Valium and alcohol mixes whilst frequenting many of the local bars. Kraft embraced the gay lifestyle and to drug and drink. Sharing an apartment he would disappear for days and lock himself in his room for days. Friends described him as having a temper.
On October 5th 1971 the nude body of Wayne Dukette aged 30 was discovered near Ortega Highway in Orange County. He was to be the first of many young men brutally tortured and murdered in and around California.
Boxing day 1972 Edward Moore aged 20 a marine from camp Pendleton was dumped from a moving car on the 405 freeway, Seal Beach. He had been beaten and strangled.
Further killings took place all with the signature markings of the same perpetrator. It would appear that a further victim in December involved two killers. John Leras aged 17 was found strangled on Sunset Beach, there were two sets of footprints in the sand leading to the dump site.
On January 24th 1975 a task force was organised to tackle the ever growing number of victims. Detectives from Los Angeles, Long Beach, Irvine, Orange County and more grouped together. Forensic Psychologists determined that the killer would be a closet homosexual. They couldn’t be further from the truth.
In Long Beach on the 29th March 1975 Keith Crotwell aged 19 disappeared. His severed head was found on May 8th by a group of boys at the marina. Friends recalled Keith taking a ride in a black and white Mustang, police traced the owner and Randy Kraft was questioned. He admitted taking the boy for a ride but prosecutors didn’t have enough to charge him.
The murders continued. In the beginning of 1976 Kraft moved in with 19 year old Jeff Seelig. At the same time gay bars in the area were displaying posters warning young men of the predator in their midst. The media had not really taken much interest in the killings with little coverage in the newspapers or on television. Then in the beginning of 1980 The Register ran a story with the headlines “Freeway Killer, cruises for murder”. Suddenly the killer had an identity.
It was purely by chance that Randy Kraft was finally caught. He was on a business trip when Orange County troopers pulled him over for drink driving. When the officers approached the his car they found the body of Terry Gambrel aged 25 in the passenger’s seat, he had been strangled with a belt.
On searching the vehicle they found photographs of nude men, some of which were clearly dead. The also found a note book with over 60 entries in it all written seemingly in a secret code. It was this reason that he was dubbed “The Scorecard Killer”
Randy Kraft’s trial would prove to be the longest (13 months) and most expensive ($10,000,000) in Orange County history. In May 1989 jurors deliberated for 11 days before returning a guilty verdict for 16 murders, although it is believed that he had murdered over 60 young men. He was given the death penalty.
Follow up -
Whilst on death row in San Quentin, Kraft passes his days playing cards with fellow inmates, Willian Bonin (The Freeway Killer), Douglas Clarke (The Sunset Strip Killer) and Lawrence Bittaker (Murder Mac).
“There’s a part of me you will never know” Randy Kraft.
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