Randy Steven Kraft, a.k.a. "The Score-Card Killer", is an American ephebophilic serial killer and serial rapist who is one of three killers who were believed to be a single serial killer, "The Freeway Killer".
Kraft was born in 1945 in Long Beach, California, but his family moved to Orange County when he was three years old. He fit right in with the ultraconservative of the area and was later described as being extremely right-wing. Considered intelligent and scholarly (later testing with an IQ of 129), he graduated high school in 1963 and enrolled in Claremont Men's College and joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps. For a while, he continued to remain conservative, demonstrating in favor of the Vietnam War and campaigning for Republican candidate Barry Goldwater for the 1964 election. For some unknown reason, his political beliefs started changing the following year; he even got a job as a bartender at a gay bar. During his final year, there were rumors that he enjoyed bondage. According to a roommate, Kraft would disappear a few times a week and then return at strange hours. He also suffered from stomach pains and migraines and frequently took Valium to treat it. In 1966, he was arrested for lewd behavior when he solicited an undercover officer, but was let off with a warning since it was his first offense. He apparently became more open about his homosexuality, spending most of his free time in gay bars. He also fell behind with his academic work due to his late night habits and had to retake one of his courses in order to earn his bachelor's degree in economics. When another presidential election started approaching, Kraft supported the Democratic candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, and was devastated when he was assassinated by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan. He was briefly stationed at the Edwards Air Force Base, but was discharged on "medical" grounds in 1969 when he came out of the closet and became a bartender full-time. Kraft later became a computer programmer. In the 1970s, during his murders, Kraft would often go to a local Marine base.
Killings, Capture, and Incarceration
During the 1970s and 1980s, the victims of Kraft were among the many dead bodies found near highways in California. While the investigators believed the murders to be the work of a single serial killer, who was dubbed "The Highway Killer", there were two other perpetrators, William Bonin and Patrick Kearney, besides Kraft, who was the last of the three to be caught (see below). In all cases, the victims were males who suffered some kind of sexual abuse and torture before being killed. Kraft's killings are believed to have started in 1971, the victim being Wayne Joseph Dukette, though Kraft was never convicted of his murder. He was first arrested on suspicion of murder when the severed head of one of his victims, Keith Crotwell, was found near the Long Beach Marina. Since he had been seen getting into a car revealed to be Kraft's, he was questioned as a suspect, but he claimed he let him ride along with him and then let him off at an all-night café. Kraft was released due to a lack of evidence. He was caught for the last time, just after 1:00 a.m. on May 14, 1983, when the California Highway Patrol pulled him over for driving under the influence. When the officers looked into his car, they saw a man who appeared to be sleeping in the back seat. When they opened it, they found him to be dead, with obvious signs of foul play. The man was Terry Gambrel, a 25-year-old U.S. Marine officer and Kraft's final victim, and had been strangled with his own belt.
When a search warrant for the car was obtained and carried out, the police found tranquilizers and prescription drugs inside as well as an envelope containing 47 photographs of young men, most of them either dead or seemingly asleep, in pornographic poses. There was also a lot of blood on the passenger seat, even though Gambrel didn't have any lacerations on his body.
When Kraft's home was searched as well, more evidence was found, including possessions of murder victims and Kraft's "score-card", on which he listed his victims by strange nicknames related to their locations or personal habits, such as "Deoderant", "New Year's Eve", and "Iowa". Kraft claimed the terms on the list referred to sexual encounters he'd had and other mundane things. In the end, Kraft was charged with 16 murders, among them a John Doe who was nicknamed as "Airplane Hill" on the "score-card" who wasn't identified until 1995, his real name being Kevin Clark Bailey. He was found guilty on all counts as well as some other related charges of sodomy and torture. At first, he was sentenced to death (for which he became briefly acquainted with William Bonin, another "Freeway Killer" on death row), but the sentence was upheld in 2000. He once pursued a lawsuit against a true crime writer who had written a book about his case, titled Angel of Darkness, as well as his publisher for $62 million in damages, claiming that the way he was portrayed in the book had smeared his "good name" and hurt his "prospects for future employment". Needless to say, the lawsuit was dismissed as frivolous. Kraft continues to serve his sentence at the San Quentin death row to this day.
Kraft targeted young Caucasian men and teenage boys aged in their late teens to mid-20s, usually hitchhikers, runaways, or men he picked up in gay bars. A number of his victims were military officers who were hitchhiking. After picking them up in his car, he would drug them and/or get them drunk; bind them; torture them by burning a car cigarette lighter against their face, chest, and genitals; sexually abuse them, and kill them in various ways, such as strangulation, asphyxiation, bludgeoning, or from a combination of torture and drugs. He would also castrate them, either as another form of torture or post-mortem, or mutilate and dismember them. He took photos of his victims while they were unconscious or even dead and would keep a record of his victims (hence his nickname) on a sheet of paper with nicknames for each victim written down on it. He would always dump the bodies were near highways in southern California. Some of his confirmed and suspected victims were found with some object inserted into their rectums, most often a sock. The victims were also often found barefoot, sometimes fully clothed everywhere else; some suspect that Kraft did this because of a foot fetish. Kraft also bit his victims, usually on and/or around the genitals or the nipples.
Other Freeway Killers
Kraft was one of the three "Freeway Killers" active in Calfornia in the 1970s. The other two were:
- Patrick Kearney (b. September 24, 1939):
- Also nicknamed "The Trash Bag Killer"
- Killed 21-43 victims
- Targeted males aged 8-28
- Shot them to death, mutilated their bodies, and engaged in necrophilia with them
- Sometimes drained the blood of victims post-mortem
- Became a homosexual pickup artist
- Would frequently kill his victims after engaging in arguments with his homosexual lover, David Hill
- Suspected after murdering a man scheduled to meet up with Hill
- Fled with Hill, but both were persuaded to turn themselves in by their families; Hill was exonerated
- Pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty and was incarcerated
- For full article, see here
- William Bonin (January 8, 1947 - February 23, 1996):
- Killed 21-36+ victims
- Targeted boys in their early- to late-teens
- Raped and tortured his victims
- Killed his victims to silence them, by strangulation with their own T-shirts, stabbing, or battering
- Assisted by several acquaintances during the murders
- Started molesting and sexually assaulted boys in his teenage years
- Arrested for molesting a 17-year-old boy during the killings, but was erroneously released
- Suspected after a would-be victim who was released confided in a counselor
- Arrested again on June 11 while sexually assaulting a boy known as "Harold T."
- Found guilty and executed by lethal injection
- Became acquainted with Kraft during his time on death row
- For full article, see here
On Criminal Minds
- Season Two
- Season Seven
- "Closing Time" - Kraft was mentioned by Reid when his mutilation of his victims was compared to that of the episode's unsub, Michael Janeczco, who may have also been based on him - Both are serial killers who worked as bartenders, primarily targeted men (though Janeczco also killed a woman and attempted to kill another, and Kraft also killed teenage boys while Janeczco attempted to kill one), incapacitated them by getting them drunk, then cut off their genitals post-mortem. The initial assumption that Janeczco was homosexual and specifically targeted other gay men as a result seems to be an allusion to Kraft's homosexuality and resultant choice of victims.
- Season Twelve
- "A Good Husband" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Kraft appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Mark Tolson - Both killers targeted men, were active in California, found their victims in bars, incapacitated them by lacing their drinks with drugs, and tortured them before killing them.
- TruTV Crime Library articles about Kraft
- Summary of Kraft's life by Radford University's Department of Psychology
- LA Times:
- Murderpedia's article about Kraft
- About.com's article about Kraft
- Crime Magazine article about Kraft
- DUI Defense page about Kraft's victims
- Gay History Wikia's timeline and articles of Kraft's killings