Episode 48 - "Randy Kraft, The Scorecard Killer"
Release Date: 01/08/2020
Episode 48 – The Scorecard Killer
- It’s a New Year, a new decade, so I thought we should usher in 2020 with a good, old fashioned, big bad episode. Now, the interesting thing is that today we’re covering a killer who I had not heard of until I stumbled upon his story while looking for topics to cover. I haven’t heard him covered on other podcasts, and he is similar to some of the other more obscure serial killers we’ve covered, like John Haigh, the Acid Bath Murderer, or Alexander Pichsushkin, the Chessboard Killer. But when reading more about his crimes, I was shocked that more people don’t talk about Randy Steven Kraft, aka, the Scorecard Killer. Kraft raped, murdered and mutilated between 16 to 67 victims, mostly young men, from 1971 to 1983, when he was caught by police and his reign of terror ended. However, his murders had a little catch to them, one that we’ll discuss in a little bit. But for now, let’s get into the early life of Randy Kraft, the man who would be known as the Southern California Strangler, the Freeway Killer, and most famously, the Scorecard Killer. Also, as a trigger warning, this one gets pretty rough at times with a lot of genital mutilation and sexual violence.
- Kraft was born on March 19th, 1945, in Long Beach California. He was one of four other children, but grew up with only sisters, along with his parents, Harold Kraft and Opal Lee. The couple had just moved to California at the Outbreak of World War 2, and the pair were hard workers in difficult production jobs. Because both parents worked, the family did not live in poverty, but there was a strain on the family due to the fact that both parents worked. Again, this is normal now, but we’re talking in the late 1940's, a time when women were really just starting to come into their own in the workplace. Regardless as her position as a worker, Opal always tried to keep her children a priority, spending time with them and bringing them to social gatherings. Harold, however, did not spend too much time with his family, and was known to be distant and standoffish to them. But despite this, Randy would have a fairly normal childhood, receiving love from his sisters and mother. This is surprising, considering the fact that most serial killers came from troubled backgrounds, but Kraft had a fairly normal upbringing. However, there was one little bump in the road when he was a child, as Kraft fell down the stairs and received head trauma at the time. As we have mentioned previously, head trauma is often a trigger for sociopathic behavior in the future, but in this case, we don’t know for sure if it was related. Regardless of his head injury, he excelled in school so much that he was able to begin accelerated classes at the Junior High School level when Kraft was only 12 years old. By the time he was enrolled in High School, he had developed a love of politics, and routinely achieved top grades in all his classes. However, with puberty, Randy Kraft would learn something about himself that would begin to shift his world perspective. Kraft suspected that he was homosexual.
[Pictured: Randy Kraft, Age 9. Photo Credit: murderpedia.org]
- Now, we’re talking about homosexuality in the 1960's in a very traditional part of California. To this day it is still not easy to come out as gay to your family, or to the world, and to a young boy in the 1960's, it was an impossibility. Due to the social stigma he would undoubtedly face, Kraft kept his sexual orientation a secret, and he focused instead on his education. On top of being an excellent student, Kraft was sociable with his fellow classmates, and he played saxophone in the school band, and even started a Republican Club at his school. In June of 1963, Kraft graduated 10th in his class, and then began attending Claremont Men’s College in California on a full scholarship, where he majored in Economics. Declaring himself a staunch Republican, Kraft has aspirations to become involved with government, similar to Ted Bundy. While in college, Kraft decided to join the Claremont Reserve Officers Training Corps and continued to follow Republican demonstration groups who supported the Vietnam War at the time. However, as many do in college, Kraft soon began to find his perceptions shift through time, and he eventually would abandon his conservative leaning views by his second year of college. It was also around this time that Kraft would begin dating men. He also began working at a local gay bar called “The Mug”, and he also brought home several different male “friends” to meet his family, but they remained oblivious to his sexuality, consciously or otherwise. It was around this time that Kraft was arrested and charged with lewd conduct in 1966 when he attempted to pick up an undercover police officer for sex. However, Kraft had no previous criminal record, so he was let go. But this slight would not go unnoticed by Kraft, and it was the last straw for him, as he cut all ties with the Republican party and instead embraced the ideologies of the Democratic party, even going so far as to campaign for the election of Senator Robert Kennedy.
[Pictured: Kraft in 1963. Photo Credit: murderpedia.org]
- At around this time in his life, however, things began to spiral out of control for Kraft. In his senior year at Claremont, Kraft began heavily drinking, taking drugs, and developed an addiction to gambling, which would take up most of his nights. He began to fail his courses, and eventually, he would repeat several courses that he had failed. He did eventually graduate, however, in February of 1968. Not long after finishing college, Kraft found himself in a sort of limbo period in his life, and he decided that he wanted to give some structure to a life that he felt was beginning to spiral out of control. Four months after finishing college, Kraft enlisted in the U.S Air Force. He would rise in status fairly quickly, soon earning the rank of Airman First class. However, this was not going to last too long, as this was the time that Kraft chose to come out to his family, and eventually, the Air Force. When Kraft came home to his family and told them that he was homosexual, his mother, although she did not understand or agree with his quote unquote “choice,” she was somewhat supportive. His father, however, in typical 1960's dad fashion, did not take the news well. According to Kraft, his father flew into a violent rage. Because of this reaction, Kraft slowly began to distance himself from his family over time. The final blow for him, however, was when, not long after announcing his sexuality to his superiors at the Air Force, he was discharged from the Air Force for “medical reasons.” Kraft would fight the finding, but the Air Force remained firm on their stance. With no job any longer, Kraft was forced to move back in with his parents, and began work as a bartender.
- Now, I’m not going to blame anyone but Kraft for what he was about to go on to do. He made the choices he made which lead him to become a rapist and a murderer. But I will say that the constant judgement and erasure he received once coming out as gay definitely didn’t help his simmering sociopathic tendencies. Again, it’s not the Air Force’s fault, or his father’s fault, nor the rest of his family, for that matter. But in Kraft’s eyes, the world had abandoned him, pushed him aside, tried to smother him. And it would pay for that. Not long after he was terminated from the Air Force, Kraft moved into his own apartment, and his criminal tendencies would begin with an abrupt crash. In March of 1970, Kraft brought a 13 year old boy named Joseph Gerald Fancher home with him, where he drugged and raped him. The boy managed to escape, and was found wandering on the street, obviously drugged. The police were summoned, and Fancher was taken to the hospital, where his stomach was pumped. He then told police that Kraft had drugged and beaten him, but at the time, afraid of the backlash he would receive, Fancher was too ashamed to tell police that he had also been sexually assaulted. However, Fancher told police that he had taken the pills willingly, and without the added knowledge of the sexual abuse, no charges against Kraft were filed. This was all the encouragement that Kraft needed.
- By 1971, Kraft decided to improve his career prospects, so he enrolled at Long Beach State University, where he hoped to become a teacher. It was here that Kraft met a man named Jeff Graves, who would become Kraft’s boyfriend. It was while the pair was dating, from 1971 to 1976, that Kraft would go on to murder at least 16 victims. There has been some speculation that Graves was involved in the crimes I will go on to detail here, but his connection was never confirmed, as Graves passed away in 1987. Before his death, Graves had told investigators, quote, “I’m really not going to pay for it, you know.” What we do know for certain, however, is that during their relationship, Graves taught Kraft about bondage, the effects of drugs on sexual intercourse, and the wonderful world of orgies. The pair enjoyed an open relationship for many years, but as the couple grew older, the free lifestyle began to turn sour, and their relationship grew volatile. And while the fights in the home grew, Kraft would begin to seek companionship elsewhere, hunting not just for a one night stand, but also, for a victim. This all began on October 5th, 1971, when police found the nude body of 30-year-old Wayne Dukette.
- Dukette, in life, had been a bartender at a local Long Beach gay bar known as “The Stable.” His body was found off the Ortega Highway, and was in such a bad state of decay that police could not find signs of foul play. What the coroner did find, however, was an exceedingly high level of alcohol in his blood. Police claimed that this death was an accident due to alcohol poisoning. Dukette would not be linked to Kraft until his capture, in 1983. But we’ll get to that later. The first confirmed murder that can definitively be attributed to Kraft, however, was Edward Daniel Moore. Moore was a 20 year old Marine who lived at the barracks of Camp Pendleton. He was last seen alive on Christmas Eve, 1972, but it wouldn’t be until two days later that his body would be found alongside the 405 Freeway in Seal Beach. His body showed severe trauma, including something that would become a signature of Kraft’s crimes, genital and rectal abuse. Moore’s body showed signs that prior to his death, he had been tied up at the wrists and ankles, and beaten badly in the face. His body was covered in deep bite marks, and a bundled up sock had been forcibly inserted into his rectum. His cause of death, however, was strangulation, with the use of a garrote. Now again, we will mention that this doesn’t feel like a first kill, honestly. This feels likes escalation on a massive scale. The degradation of the victims rectum, the biting, the use of a garrote, those things are all extremely violent and personal, and don’t seem like a first murder to me. But regardless, this murder was the start of a rampage that would only get worse as time went on.
- Now, we’re going to cover a large number of victims in rapid succession, because honestly, there are a lot of victims. And also, unfortunately, we don’t know a ton about them. It’s sad, but some of his victims are even still unidentified. Just like the body of an unidentified male, age estimated around 17 to 25, who was found off a Freeway in Los Angeles several weeks after Moore was found. This John Doe was strangled with a garrote, and also had the telltale sock in his rectum. Two months later, 17 year old Kevin Clark Bailey was found murdered, on April 9th. Bailey was murdered in a similar way to the two others, but he marked the first example of genital mutilation performed by Kraft. Bailey’s genitalia had been removed, and he had been raped prior to his death. Not long after Bailey, two other bodies were discovered; an unidentified male victim until 18 was found dismembered on April 22nd, and on July 30th, 20-year-old Ronnie Gene Wiebe was found, strangled.
- Kraft’s final victim of 1973 was a young man named Vincent Cruz Mestas. Vincent was a 23-year-old art student whose body was found on December 29th, his hands cut off from his wrists, and like the earlier victims, a sock was again shoved in his rectum. In 1974, Kraft murdered, at minimum, three other victims, all linked to highways or freeways in California, and most of them were found with some object inserted into their bodies, a tell of Kraft’s. The victims were 20 year old Malcolm Eugene Little, 19 year old James Dale Reeves, and 18 year old Roger Edward Dickerson. But unfortunately, Kraft would aim younger for his next victim. On January 4th, 1975, just after the New Year, 17 year old John Leras was found strangled and dumped at the Sunset Beach. He had still been in high school, and had last been seen boarding a bus. At this point, however, Kraft was escalating, and not about two weeks later, he struck again, this time strangling 21 year old Craig Jonaitis. But, as we’ll cover in a little bit, Kraft was nowhere near done with his rampage. And unfortunately, the police had no leads, and could not put a stop to his murders. Even though they had tried, and had even taken him in for questioning for yet another murder…
- On March 29th, 1975, Keith Crotwell and his friend, Kent May, were hanging out in a parking lot in Long Beach, when they were approached by a man driving a Ford Mustang. The man, appearing to be harmless and just looking to party, asked the two young men if they wanted to hop in his car, where they could drink all the beer they wanted, and they could even dabble with Valium as well. The two agreed, interested in having a good time, and got in the car. The car, of course, belonged to Kraft. While the two young men drank and took drugs, Kraft drove around instead of bringing them to a party, and it did not take long for the two to pass out from the drug and alcohol cocktail. This was exactly what Kraft had been hoping for. For some reason, however, Kraft decided that Kent May was not his intended victim, so Kraft drove back to the parking lot from where he picked the pair up, and unceremoniously dumped May out of the car, leaving him there, unconscious. Kraft then drove away with his prize, the unconscious Crotwell. No one would ever see Keith Crotwell again, at least, not until his skull was found a month and a half later. The rest of his body would be found at the end of 1975. However, he had made a crucial mistake; he had left a victim alive. May, although understandable scarred by his experience, remembered enough about the car that he could tell his friends about the distinctive Ford Mustang that Kraft drove. Apparently, it was painted in a very distinct black and white pattern, so, when May told his friends about the paint, the pair took it upon themselves to search the neighborhood in which the duo was kidnapped to try to find the car. They were successful, and wrote down the license plate, bringing it to police. This brought the police to Kraft’s door. Kraft was brought in for questioning, where Kraft eventually admitted that he had picked up the two young men, and that he dropped May back off at the parking lot, but he and Crotwell decided to stay together, but while they were driving, Kraft had crashed his car in an embankment. He told police that he had instructed Crotwell to stay in the car while he went to get a tow truck, but by the time he returned, Crotwell had left, walking off into the night. Police, understandably, thought that Kraft was full of shit, and two detectives decided to file homicide charges against Kraft, but, unfortunately, the District’s Attorney’s Office dismissed the request, as the coroner had not stated that Crotwell was not a victim of hominid, but instead, that his death had been an accident, as there was not adequate flesh left on the body to give a decisive cause of death. The charges were dropped, and Kraft was once more free. It would only be 8 months after Crotwells murder that Kraft would strike again.
- On December 31st, 1975, Kraft performed what some to believe was his “worst” murder. This one is rough, as a heads up. On New Year’s Eve, Kraft abducted Mark Hall, and drove him to a remote canyon in San Juan Capistrano. Hall was taken out of Kraft’s car, and tied to a tree, his back and rectum exposed. Kraft sliced off Hall’s genitals, and shoved them into his own rectum. Kraft also, dabbling into new realms of torture, covered Hall’s chest, nose, cheeks, and scrotum with small circular burns, done using the cigarette lighter from his car. He also used the same lighter to completely burn both of Hall’s eyes. There were also a large number of slices all along the insides of his thighs. His cause of death, however, was asphyxiation. He had suffocated to death from various leaves and dirt that his face was shoved into, during the course of his torture. The autopsy performed on Hall showed that he was alive throughout most of his torture.
- Now, in between all of these murders, Kraft was still maintaining a relationship with Graves, but the couple ended up breaking up in 1976, as the pair had begun to violently dislike one another. It wasn’t long after their separation that Kraft laid eyes on 19 year old Jeff Seelig at a party. Seelig was a baker who was almost instantly smitten with Kraft, who was 31 at the time, and the couple moved in together very quickly. The couple dabbled in threesomes, but Seelig seemed comfortable in the relationship, and Kraft did as well, as there was a lull in his murders in 1976, until December 10th, when Kraft murdered 19 year old Paul Fuchs. His body has never been found. But after this murder, Kraft would not strike again for almost a year and a half. Unfortunately, however, this would not be the end for Kraft, as, in 1978, he went on another rampage which would last until his capture years later.
[Pictured: Victim Paul Joseph Fuchs. Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org]
- On April 16th, 1978, Kraft found Scott Hughes, an 18 year old Marine. He abducted him, drugged him with Valium, then sliced open his scrotum, cutting out one of his testicles. Kraft then strangled Hughes to heath and dumping him beside a freeway. In June of that same year, Roland Young was found dead, his genitals cut off and his body covered in stab marks. Just over a week later, 20 year old Richard Keith was found strangled. He had been drugged at the time of his death as well. Then, three weeks later, Kraft killed again, this time picking up a 23 year old hitchhiker named Keith Klingbeil. Klingbeil was, again, drugged, then strangled. During the autopsy, it was found that his left nipple had been badly burned with the use of a car cigarette lighter. The final of Kraft’s 1978 victims was a young man named Michael Inderbieten. He was found off the freeway on November 19th, 1978. Now, Inderbierten is the last of the confirmed murders, as Kraft was not charged with every murder he was believed to have done. But, in 1979 alone, it was believed that he murdered Donnie Crisel, 20 year old Gregory Jolley, an unidentified man between the age of 18 and 30 who was found dismembered, and 15 year old Jeffrey Sayre. In February of 1980, the decapitated body of a 19 year old named Mark Marsh was found, you guessed it, off a highway. Most of the above victims had similar marks on their bodies that seemed to correlate with Kraft’s previous murders, and some were even found with socks placed in their rectums as well.
[Pictured: Victim Keith Klingbeil. Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org]
- Now, for much of 1980, Kraft did a little traveling for work, which brought him to a whole new playground, namely Portland, Oregon. While here, Kraft would continue on his rampage, taking the lives of two more victims, 17 year old Michael O’Fallon, and an unidentified man, estimated to be between 35 and 45. Kraft returned to California in August of 1980, and began again, killing Robert Loggins just a month after moving back. During their investigation, police would end up finding photographs in Kraft’s home of Loggins in sexual poses, all of which with his eyes closed. It is unclear if he was alive or dead at the time. It is also believed that Kraft murdered Michael Cluck, a 17 year old who was found dead on April 10, 1981. Four months later, the partially nude body of Christopher Williams, 17, was found. He had choked to death on his own mucus as tissue paper was lodged deep in his nostrils, after he had been drugged.
- Despite all of his successes in the field of murder, things were not alright at home for Kraft. By 1982, his relationship with Seelig had begun to sour, and the couple fought frequently, and in an attempt to save their relationship, Kraft and Seelig began seeing a couple’s counselor. Even though he wanted to keep this relationship alive, it was not enough to keep Kraft from murder, as his compulsion had grown exponentially stronger. Around the same time Kraft and Seelig began counseling, Kraft murdered 14 year old Raymond Davis, who was found bound and strangled. On the same day that Davis was found, police also found the heavily decomposed remains of 16 year-old Robert Avila. He too had been strangled. In the remainder of 1982, it is believed that Kraft murdered an additional 3 victims: 24 year old Arne Laine, 26 year old Brian Whitcher, and 29 year old Anthony Silveira. All were taken when they had been hitchhiking. Also, in December of 1982, Kraft drugged cousins Dennis Alt and Christopher Schoenborn. He went on to rape the pair, then strangled both, using Schoenborn’s belt. Before his death, Schoenborn had been subjected to torture, where Kraft inserted a ballpoint pen into Schoenborn’s urethra. Several days after the murder of the two cousins, Kraft is believed to have murdered Lance Taggs, a 19 year old hitchhiker who died when Kraft shoved a sock down his throat. Now, we’re getting towards the end, I promise, as, although it may not seem like it, police were beginning to put all these murders together, and a clear picture of the killer began to form. Unfortunately, before his arrest, Kraft would still commit 4 more murders. Kraft killed 21 year old hitchhiker Eric Church on January 27th, 1983, and then two more victims on February 12th, when he killed 18 year old Geoffrey Nelson and 20 year old Rodger DeVaul. But his next murder would finally, finally, be his last. And his capture was purely accidental.
[Pictured: Victim Eric Church. Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org]
- On May 14th, 1983, Kraft was behind the wheel of his car on Interstate 5, completely shitfaced. His car swerved all over the lanes, but he had thought that, since it was late at night, that he would be in the clear. However, Kraft was not on the road alone that night. He shared it, in fact, with two patrol officers. Concerned that the driver of the vehicle was driving drunk, the officers flipped on their lights and pulled over the driver. Inside the car was the dead body of Terry Lee Gambrel. Perhaps wanting to get caught, or potentially, so drunk that he forgot about his passenger, Kraft opened his door and got out of his car, knocking out a glass beer bottle to the pavement below. One of the officers performed a sobriety test, and Kraft failed spectacularly. While he slapped the handcuffs on Kraft, his partner went to check the car. It was there he found the slumped over body of Gambrel. The officer attempted to get the man’s attention, but it wasn’t until he had shaken the body, and the neck was exposed, that the officer realized the man in the car was dead. There was a clear mark around his neck that he had been strangled. Gambrel’s hands were also bound, and his genitalia was exposed from his jeans. He had been strangled to death.
[Pictured: Kraft, at his trial. Photo Credit: murderpedia.org]
- From here, police took the car in for investigation, and during their search they found mounds of evidence, which connected to the numerous murder victims found over the past several years. Police found 47 Polaroid photos of young men, nude and most likely dead. Several of the men depicted were confirmed to be murder victims found in the past few years. Also of note were the heavily bloodstained rugs in Kraft’s car… which disturbed officers, since Gambrel had no open wounds. The blood was tested and confirmed to be human. However, the most upsetting thing that police found, was a binder full of code. This binder was handwritten, and after some study, investigators realized that the binder was a catalog, a score card, of at least 61 victims. Some of the entries match victims names directly, some indicate what was done to the victims, or where they were last seen. The scorecard contains a minimum of 65 – 67 victims, with a possibility of more. This was all the proof that they needed to move forward. Two days after his arrest, Kraft was formally charged with the murder of Terry Gambrel. Kraft’s trial began on September 26th, 1988. Almost 160 witnesses were called to testify, and over 1000 exhibits were introduced as evidence. The trial would end up lasting thirteen months, and is considered to be the most expensive trial in Orange County’s entire history. However, on May 12th, 1989, wow, weird, (this is the exact date of co-host Kim's birth) Kraft was found guilty of 16 counts of murder. He was given the death penalty, but due to a freeze placed on capital punishments performed in California, Randy Kraft still waits, on death row, haunted by the memories of dozens of murders, and vicious acts of cruelty. Kraft still denies any guilt to this day, despite all the evidence against him. Police have since run DNA found on Kraft’s victims and it was confirmed to be a match to Kraft, so there is no doubt that Kraft committed, at a minimum, the 16 murders he was found guilty of. However, many who have studied this case believe that it is extremely likely that Kraft, due to his victim pool of male sex workers or young gay men, was able to go under the radar for so long, and most likely has accumulated a much more substantial number. And if the scorecard found in his car is to be believed, Randy Kraft is one of the worst serial killers in all of the United States.
[Pictured: The "Scorecard." Photo Credit: murderpedia.org]
Sources for the Story Portion:
- McDougal, Dennis (1991). Angel of Darkness. ISBN0446515388
- Tucker, Brian (2015). The Scorecard Killer: the Randy Kraft Story. ISBN978-1-508-84391-7.
Research Topic - Field Sobriety Tests
- Source: https://duijusticelink.aaa.com/issues/detection/standard-field-sobriety-test-sfst-and-admissibility/
Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is recognized in a majority of states. It’s a three part test that can correctly identify an impaired person over 90% of the time. The test is composed of three parts that are admissible as evidence in court.
1. The first test is called the horizontal gaze nystagmus. This is an involuntary jerking of the eyeball when they eyes gaze to the side. When you're sober the jerking occurs at high peripheral angles but when you are impaired it happens at lesser angles.
2. The second test is the walk and turn test. In this test the potentially intoxicated person is directed to take nine steps heel to toe along a straight line. After the 9th step they are to turn on one foot and return to the start taking 9 steps heel to toe. There are eight indicators of impairment that the officer looks for during this test and 79 percent of people who exhibit two or more of these have a BAC of 0.08 or higher. The indicators are being unable to keep balance while instructions are being given, starting before the instructions are finished, stops walking to regain balance, does not touch heel to toe, uses arms for balance, steps off line, takes an incorrect number of steps, or makes an improper turn.
3. The third test is the one leg stand test. The subject is told to stand with one foot about six inches off the ground and count out loud by ones starting at one thousand. (1,001 1,002 1,003) until they are told to put their foot down. The officer times thirty seconds and looks for four indicators. For this test 83% of people who show two or more indicators have a BAC of 0.01 or greater. The indicators are swaying while balancing, using arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance, and putting the foot down.
Obviously there are legitimate reasons why some people cannot complete these tests and the officer should ask the suspect if there are any reasons why they would not be able to complete the tests as they should be completed. Any answers need to be properly documented.