Another in the tradition of California freeway killer. Randy, a graduate of the prestigious Claremont Men's College, liked to pick up young men, especially marines, drug them and strangle them.
On a summer morning in 1983 Orange County officers pulled over a
driver for weaving. The driver, Randy Kraft, got out of his car and began
walking to the cruiser in a polite manner. The suspicious officers walked Kraft
back to his car and found the body of Terry Gambrel slumped over dead in the
passenger's seat. He had be strangled with a belt. A background check on Kraft
revealed a 1966 arrest for lewd conduct in Huntington Beach. In 1967 he had
graduated from college with a degree in economics, and then a year in the air
force, only to be discharged on grounds related to homosexual behavior.
In 1975 he was arrested again for lewd conduct with another man, this time spending 5 days in jail and paying a small fine. Officers searched Kraft's car and found fourty-seven photos of young men, some nude, and some unconscious, or dead. A breifcase contained a notebook with more than 60 messages in a code. Searching Krafts home they found photo's of three men whose deaths were still unsolved in Southern California. Robert Loggins had been found dead in September 1980, and photos of his body were found in Krafts' home. Roger De Vaul, and Geoffrey Nelson were last seen in February of 1983, and their bodies were discovered days apart. Photos of the two friends were also found in the house. Fibers from a rug in Kraft's garage matched fibers found on the body of Scott Huges, who was found alongside the Riverside Freeway in April of 1978.
Items belonging to a man found dead near Grand Rapids, Michigan were also found in his home. Kraft had worked for a Santa Monica based aerospace firm between June 1980 and January 1983, and had traveled to offices in Oregon and Michigan during times of some unsolved murders in each state. Prosecutors eventually cracked the code in Krafts notebook. "2 in 1 Hitch" referred to the murders of Nelson and De Vaul. "Marine Carson" referred to Richard Keith, a marine last seen in Carson, California, and whose body was discovered in Laguna Hills in 1978. "Jail Out" referred to a murder he commited hours after being released from jail on June 11, 1978. "Parking Lot" referred to the murder of Keith Crotwell, an eight-year-old boy whose severed head was found by a group of fisherman. His body turned up a while later. Kraft was questioned in this case, and admitted meeting Crotwell in a parking lot the day he vanished. Kraft was considered a "Score-card killer".
In September 1983 the charges against Kraft stood as: sixteen murders, eleven counts of sodomy, nine counts of sexual mutilation, and three counts of robbery. In January of the next year prosecutors filed written notice of their intent to prove twenty-one additional murders, spanning twelve years, and three states. Kraft was found guilty and given the death sentence. He is currently awaiting execution on death row in San Quentin State Prison in California.
Police linked him to sixty-two deaths spanning three states, but only sixteen have been proven conclusively.