Serial Killer Randolph Kraft

The Life and Crimes of Sadistic Killer Randy Kraft

Randy Kraft
Pictures of Randy Kraft were distributed to the jury by the defense to show that he was normal.

Randolph Kraft, also known as the "Scorecard Killer" and "Freeway Killer," is a  serial rapist, torturer, and killer responsible for the mutilation and deaths of at least 16 young males from 1972 through 1983 throughout  California, Oregon, and  Michigan. He was linked to 40 additional unsolved murders through a cryptic list found during his arrest. The list became known as " Kraft's Scorecard."

Randy Kraft's Younger Years

Born on March 19, 1945, in Long Beach, California, Randolph Kraft was the youngest child and only son out of four children born to Opal and Harold Kraft.

Being the baby of the family and the only boy, Kraft was showered with attention from his mother and sisters. However, Kraft's father was distant and spent much of his non-working time with his sister and mother.

Kraft's childhood was unremarkable. Prone to accidents, at the age of one he fell from a couch and broke his collarbone and a year later he was knocked unconscious after falling down a flight of stairs. A trip to the hospital determined that there was no permanent damage.

Relocation to Orange County

When Kraft was three years old the family moved to Midway City in Orange County, California. Their home was modest and it took both parents working to pay their bills. They bought an old Women's Army Corps dormitory located in a commercial zone within ten miles of the  Pacific Ocean and Harold turned it into a three bedroom home.

School Years

At the age of five, Kraft was enrolled in the Midway City Elementary school, and Opal, although a working mother, was involved with her son's activities.

She was a member of the PTA, baked cookies for the Cub Scout meetings and was active at church, making certain that her children received Bible lessons.

Recognized as an above average student, Kraft excelled at school. When he entered junior high school he was placed in the advanced curriculum and continued to maintain excellent grades.

It was during these years that his interest in conservative politics grew and he would proudly announce himself as a diehard Republican.

When Kraft entered high school he was the only child left at home. His sisters had married and had homes of their own. Now as the only child left in the nest, Kraft could enjoy the privacy of having his own room, independence while his mother and father worked, his own car, and money he earned working part-time jobs.

Described as normal and likable, he seemed like a typical fun-loving kid, who, even though he was a "brain" and nerd, got along well with his peers. His school activities included playing the saxophone for the school band, playing tennis, and founding and participating in a student club focused on conservative politics.

Kraft graduated from high school at the age of 18 and 10th in his class of 390 students.

During his final year of high school and unknown to his family, Kraft began cruising gay bars and became known among patrons as Crafty Randy because of his pleasant youthful looks and engaging personality.

College Years

After high school, Kraft went to Claremont Men College on a full scholarship and majored in economics. His interest in politics continued and he was a staunch supporter of presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.

He often attended pro-Vietnam war demonstrations and joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps.

Up to this point Kraft had kept his homosexuality a secret from friends and family, although some who knew him well suspected that he was gay. That changed in his second year in college when he became involved in his first open homosexual relationship. He also changed his political alliances from conservative to left-wing. He later said his years as a conservative were merely his effort to be like his parents.

Although Kraft's homosexuality was known at Claremont, his family was still ignorant of his lifestyle. In an effort to change this, Kraft often brought homosexual friends home to meet his family. Remarkably, his family failed to make the connection and remained unaware of Kraft's sexual preferences.

First Arrest

While attending college, Kraft worked part-time as a bartender at a popular gay bar called The Mug located in Garden Grove. There his sexual activity flourished. He also started cruising for male prostitutes at known pickup spots around Huntington Beach. During one of these trips in 1963, Kraft was arrested after propositioning an undercover police officer, but the charges were dropped because Kraft had no previous arrest record.

Change in LifeStyle

In 1967, Kraft became a registered  Democrat and worked on the Robert Kennedy election. He adopted more of a hippie look, letting his short, collegiate hair grow long and he grew a mustache.

Kraft also suffered from recurring headaches and stomach pain. His family doctor prescribed tranquilizers and pain medicine, which he often mixed with beer.

Between his job as a bartender, drinking and drugging, his relationships, and his heavy campaigning efforts, his interest in academia declined. In his final year in college, rather than studying, he focused on getting high, gambling all night and hustling gay men. His lack of focus resulted in his failure to graduate on time.

It would take him eight additional months to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in economics in February 1968.

U.S. Air Force

In June 1968, Kraft enlisted in the U.S. Air Force after earning high marks on the Air Force aptitude tests. He thrust himself into his work and quickly advanced to the rank of Airman First Class.

Kraft also decided during this time to tell his family that he was a homosexual. His ultra-conservative parents reacted predictably. His father went into a rage. Although she did not approve of the lifestyle, his mother's love and support of her son remained intact. Eventually the family accepted the news, however, the relationship between Kraft and his parents was never quite the same.

On July 26, 1969, Kraft received a general discharge for medical reasons from the Air Force. He later said that the discharge came after he told his superiors that he was gay.

Kraft briefly moved back home and took a job as a forklift operator and also worked part-time as a bartender, but not for long.

Jeff Graves

In 1971, Kraft decided to become a teacher and he enrolled at Long Beach State University. There he met fellow student Jeff Graves who was actively homosexual and more experienced in a less conventional gay lifestyle than Graves. Kraft moved in with Graves and they stayed together until the end of 1975.

Graves introduced Kraft to bondage, drug-enhanced sex, and threesomes. They had an opened relationship that grew more volatile with frequent arguments as time went on. By 1976, Kraft had become less interested in cruising for one-night flings and wanted to settle down into a real one-on-one relationship. Graves wanted just the opposite.

Jeff Seelig

Kraft met Jeff Seelig at a party around a year after he and Graves split up. Seelig, 19, was 10 years younger than Kraft and worked as an apprentice baker. Kraft was the older, wiser, voice of reason in the relationship and introduced Seelig to the gay bar scene, and about cruising for Marines for threesomes.

As the years went on, Kraft and Seelig advanced in their careers and they decided to purchase a small home together in Long Beach. Kraft had landed a job in computers with Lear Siegler Industries and he spent a lot of time on business trips to Oregon and Michigan. He was very committed to his job and was on his way up professionally.

But by 1982, the happy couple began to have problems and their differences in age, education, and personalities began to take its toll.

The End for Randy Kraft - May 14, 1983

On May 14, 1983, two patrol officers were looking for drunk drivers when they spotted a car weaving down the highway. They turned on the flashers and instructed the driver pull over.

The driver was Larry Kraft and he continued driving for a short distance before stopping.

Once he pulled over, he quickly got out of the car and walked towards the patrolmen, smelling of alcohol and with the fly of pants opened. The patrol officers gave Kraft a standard sobriety test, which he failed. They then went to search his car.

Slumped over in the passenger's seat was a young man who was barefooted and with his pants pulled down, exposing his genitals. His neck had red strangulation marks and his wrists were bound. After a brief exam it was clear that he was dead.

An autopsy later confirmed that the man, identified as 25-year-old Terry Gambrel, had been killed by ligature strangulation and that his blood showed an excessive among of alcohol and tranquilizers.

Gambrel was a Marine stationed at the El Toro Marine Air Base. His friends later said he was hitchhiking to a party on the night that he was murdered.

The patrolman also found 47 Polaroid's of young men, all nude, and all appearing to be unconscious or possibly dead. Most alarming was a list that was found inside a briefcase in the trunk of Kraft's car. It contained 61 cryptic messages that the police later believed was a list of Kraft's murdered victims.The list was later referred to as Kraft's scorecard.

A search of Kraft's apartment revealed several pieces of evidence that were later linked to various unsolved murders including clothing owned by the victims, fibers from a rug in the apartment matching fibers found at murder scenes. Other evidence included pictures found next to Kraft's bed which matched three cold-case victims. Also, Kraft's fingerprints matched prints found on glass found at an earlier murder scene.

Investigators learned that Kraft often traveled to Oregon and Michigan when he was employed in June 1980 through January 1983 at an aerospace firm. Unsolved murders in both areas were linked with the dates that he was there. This, along with being able to solve some of his cryptic messages on his scorecard, added to the growing list of Kraft's victims.

Kraft was arrested and initially charged with the murder of Terry Grambrel, but as more forensic evidence linked Kraft to additional murders, more charges were filed. By the time Kraft went to trial he was charged with 16 murders, nine sexual mutilation charges, and three sodomy charges.

Randy Kraft's MO

Kraft tortured and murdered all of his victims, but the severity of torture differed. All of his known victims were Caucasian males who had similar physical characteristics.  Most had been drugged and bound and several had been tortured, mutilated, emasculated, sodomized, and photographed postmortem. Some were gay, some were straight. 

Kraft seemed to receive much of his pleasure by inserting objects into the anus and urethra while his victims were still alive. In one of his most brutal attacks, he cut away his victim's eyelids, forcing him to watch his own torture. The severity of the torture that his victims endured seemed to correspond with how Kraft and his lover were getting along. When the two argued, Kraft's victims would pay the price.

The postmortem photographs found in his car and at his home during a police search were likely viewed as trophies by Kraft and used by him to revisit the murders.

Accomplice

Some of the investigators that were working the Kraft case thought that Kraft had an accomplice. At times, the forensic results pointed away from Kraft even though other evidence found in his house was incriminating.

Investigators also couldn't ignore the fact that many of the victims had been pushed out a car that was going about 50 miles an hour, which would be next to impossible to do alone while driving. 

Graves became the main persons of interest. He and Kraft had lived together during the time that 16 of the known murders that connected to Kraft took place.

Graves also backed up Kraft's statement to police about his whereabouts on March 30, 1975. Crotwell and his friend Kent May had gone on a drive with Kraft that evening. Kraft supplied both the teens with drugs and alcohol and Kent passed out in the back seat of the car. Kraft ended up pushing Kent out of the car. Crotwell was never seen alive again.

Witnesses to May being thrown from the car helped police track down Kraft.  When questioned about Crotwell's disappearance,  he said that he and Crotwell went on a drive, but that the car got stuck in the mud. He called Graves to come help, but he was 45 minutes away so he decided to walk and find help. When he returned to the car, Crotwell was gone. Graves corroborated Kraft's story.

After Kraft's arrest for murder Graves was questioned again and he told investigators, "I'm really not going to pay for it, you know." 

Investigators knew that they would be back to grill Graves again about that night and more, but he died of AIDS before that would happen.

The Trial

Kraft went to trial on September 26, 1988, in what turned out to be one of the longest and most costly trials in the history of Orange County. After 11 days a jury found him guilty and he was given the death sentence.

During the penalty phase of the trial, the state called Kraft's first known victim, Joseph Francher to testify about the abuse he suffered by Kraft when he was 13 years old, and how it had affected his life.

Kraft received the death sentence and is currently on death row in San Quentin. In 2000, the California Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.