Randy Steven Kraft, better known as the “Scorecard Killer,” has been on California‘s death row for decades, but that doesn’t mean investigators stopped suspecting him of other unadjudicated slayings.
Now, after 49 years, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has identified a teenage John Doe they believe died at his hands.
The slain boy is Michael Ray Schlicht, 17.
According to deputies, two people were off-roading on a fire road on Sept. 14, 1974, in unincorporated Laguna Hills, present-day Aliso Viejo. Investigators determined he died three to five days before from an accident due to alcohol and diazepam.
Authorities worked on trying to identify him, but he ended up at an unmarked grave in El Toro Memorial Park.
In 1980, sheriff’s investigators noted other deaths in 1978 from alcohol and diazepam intoxication in Southern California, including their county.
“These deaths were classified as homicides,” they wrote. “Over the years, multiple young men were found deceased throughout Orange County and Southern California, including several within a few miles of where John Doe’s remains were discovered.”
Authorities arrested Kraft, now 78, in May 1983 for murder after a California Highway Patrol officer did a traffic stop on him and found Terry Lee Gambrel, 25, dead in the front passenger seat, empty bottles and an open Lorazepam battle at his feet.
Investigators described finding a coded list believed to have upward of 67 victims of Kraft.
Jurors convicted him in May 1989 of 16 murders. He was suspected of committing 10 more, though the Orange County District Attorney’s Office did not file those cases.
Nonetheless, authorities believed that their 1974 John Doe was one of Kraft’s early victims.
Working with the forensic genetic genealogy company Othram Labs, they tracked down Schlicht’s mother in Kansas, Missouri, and used her DNA to confirm a match.
The teenager was from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“Family members have been notified and are in the process of having a headstone installed to mark his final resting place,” authorities wrote.
Deputies now focus on investigating his murder. They ask anyone with information to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS or crimestoppers.org.
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