Randy Kraft is a serial killer who was homosexual and targeted men - most of whom were also gay. He was born in Long Beach on March 19, 1945. When he was three his family moved to Westminster where he graduated from Westminster High School in 1963, 10th in his class. He was awarded a scholarship to Claremont Men's College. In 1964 he had his first known gay relationship, with a "black guy named Mike." In 1965 he was arrested after offering to have sex with a guy at Huntington Beach Pier. The man was a vice officer. He was released, being a first offense.
In 1968 he joined the air force and began painting test planes. He also campaigned for Kennedy. The following year he told his family that he was gay. They disapproved and he became distant, and the air force discharged him for "medial reasons" when they also learned of his homosexuality. Kraft upgraded from valium, which he started taking in college, to speed - in order to lose weight.
It seems like it was these changes in his life - the world not accepting who he was, and his progression into heavier drugs - as well as some other underlying mental disorder - that moved him to kill the first time in 1970.
Kraft managed to have further relationships with men - Jeff Graves in 1971 and Jeff Seelig from 1972 to 1980. But despite this he continued to kill. The total number is unknown but is suspected to have been between 14 and 61 young men between the ages of 17 and 25.
Kraft was finally arrested on May 14, 1983 and convicted and sentenced to death row on November 29, 1989. The sentence was upheld by the California Supreme Court on April 11, 2000. He is still alive and currently completing his life sentence at San Quentin State Prison in California.
The following are a list of the men that are believed to have been murdered by Kraft:
Joseph Alwyn Fancher - first known victim
Wayne Joseph Dukette - 30 years old, he was the oldest possible victim. He was found on the Highway. According to the California Death Index he was born May 12, 1941 and died September 24, 1971 in Orange County.
Edward Daniel Moore - 20 years old. He was a marine at Camp Pendleton and believed to be bi-sexual - he frequented several gay bars in Long Beach, San Clemente and Oceanside. Some men in Long Beach described him as a "hustler" type which suggests he may have been a part time prostitute. His body was found, fully clothed, near the 7th Street exit of the 605 Freeway. He had no belt or shoes and only one sock, the other sock was inserted into his anus. He was last seen at 11:30 pm December 22, 1972 on the streets of Oceanside - but the coroner put his time of death at Christmas Eve. According to the California Death Index - he was born April 14, 1952 in Kentucky and died December 23, 1972 in Orange County.
Unidentified #1: This young man, age about 18 or 20, was found on the Terminal Island Freeway on February 6, 1973. He was nude and had been strangled. Pictures of the boy were found in the brush near the body. They were shown to various people around Long Beach and he was recognized as frequenting various gay hangouts, primarily bluff area along Ocean Boulevard. No one knew his name.
Unidentified #2: He was found in Huntington Beach and had been redressed in "biker-style clothing". He was found in early April of 1973 and may have been killed on Easter Sunday.
Unidentified #3: This young man was found just two weeks after the previously unidentified victim, on April 22, 1973. Sadly, only parts were found at first, carefully placed in green plastic bags strewn along the Terminal Island Freeway. Another part was behind a gay bar in Sunset Beach and another was found in Gardena. He was also identified as having frequented gay bars in Long Beach, but no one knew his name. Since his remains were refrigerated prior to being dumped, he may have also passed on Easter Sunday.
Wiebe, Ronnie Gene: Born June 14, 1953 in Madera County, California. He was found on July 30, 1973 in an iceplant off the Seventh Street exit of the 605 Freeway, near the location of the first victim. He was last seen at the Sportsman Bar in Los Alamitos. Unlike the other victims, Wiebe was not gay. He had previously been married and divorced just a few months before his death. The Sportsman Bar was a straight bar, still in operation in Los Alamitos as of 2009.
Mestas, Vicente Cruz: 23 years old, he was found by hikers in the San Bernardino foothills. He was found on December 29, 1973. He had been a student of Long Beach State. According to the California Death Index, he was born January 18, 1949 in California and died December 23, 1973 in San Bernardino.
Little, Malcolm Eugene: 20 years old, a truck driver from Selma, Alabama visiting his brother in Long Beach. On May 27 he decided to hitchhike home. His body was found on June 2 near a desert road near the Salton Sea. According to the California Death Index he was born May 15, 1954 in Alabama and died June 2, 1974 in Imperial County.
Dickerson, Roger E.: 20-years-old. He was a marine and had told his drinking buddies in a San Clemente bar that he had found someone who would give him a ride to Los Angeles. He was found on June 22, 1974, dumped down a hillside in South Laguna. The police didn't reveal how he was connected to Long Beach. According to the California Death Index, he was born August 5, 1955 in Oregon and died June 22, 1974 in Orange County.
Lee, Thomas Paxton: 25-years-old. A waiter in San Pedro, he was on vacation and had traveled through Long Beach, visiting several gay bars. He was found in a Long Beach oil field on August 3, 1974.
Cordova, Gary Wayne: he was found on the highway in Orange County on Aug 12, 1974. According to the California Death Index, he was born April 13, 1951 in California and died August 9, 1974 in Orange County.
Reeves, James: 19 years old. He was a "known homosexual", last seen leaving a gay church in Costa Mesa after Thanksgiving dinner. He was found the next day, at the end of a remote road in Irvine.
Leras, John W.: He was found in the surf at Sunset Beach on January 3, 1975. It was believed that he had been carried into the surf a mile from where he had been found. According to the California Death Index, he was born March 23, 1957 in Rhode Island and died January 4, 1975 in Orange County.
Craig Victor Jonaitis: Found Jan 17th at Long Beach Motel on Pacific Coast Highway. According to the California Death Index, he was born September 9, 1953 in New Jersey and died January 17, 1975 in Los Angeles County.
Keith Daven Crotwell - 19, High School dropout. Keith vanished on March 26, 1975. His head was found on May 8 off the coast of Long Beach. Randy was arrested and questioned by the police about him but was released due to lack of evidence. The rest of his skeleton was found in October. According to the California Death Index, he was born September 22, 1955 in California and died May 8, 1975 in Los Angeles County.
Mark H. Hall: He was found nude on January 3, 1976. Described as 5'10, 165 pounds, he died of alcohol and asphyxiation. He was found on the West side of Bedford Peak at the east end of Santiago Canyon in the Saddleback Mountains, thirty miles south of San Juan Capistrano. Traces of diazepam and valium were also found in his system. He had been sodomized, cigarette lighter used on various parts of his body, nicks and grooves on the legs, the penis and testicles had been removed and inserted into the anus. According to the California Death Index, he was born April 3, 1958 in Idaho and died January 3, 1976 in Orange County.
Scott Michael Hughes: 18, found April 1978. According to the California Death Index, he was born October 3, 1959 in Washington and died April 16, 1978 in Orange County.
Roland Gerald Young: 23 years old. He was released from Orange County jail on June 10, 1978 for public intoxication and was found dead at 3:30 am on June 11 in a gutter in Irvine. Alcohol and diazepam were found in his blood. Evidence showed that he had been thrown from a moving vehicle. His wrists were bound and genitals severed. However, instead of being strangled, he was stabbed in the heard several times. According to the California Death Index, he was born January 3, 1955 in California and died June 11, 1978 in Orange County.
Richard Allen Keith: A young marine last seen in Carson, California. He was found, strangled, in Laguna Hills in June 1978. According to the California Death Index, he was born August 3, 1957 in Ohio and died June 19, 1978 in Orange County.
Keith Arthur Klingbeil - hitchhiker, crippled leg from a motorcycle accident. His body was found on the northbound lanes of Interstate 5, near Mission Viejo, in Orange County. According to the California Death Index - he was born Feb 6, 1955 in Florida and died July 6, 1978 in Orange County.
Michael Joseph Inderbieten - 21, Long Beach truck driver. He was dumped in the morning rush hour traffic at the Seventh Street offramp on the 605 Freeway. He had been burned with a lighter and emasculated. According to the California Death Index, he was born December 29, 1956 in California and died November 18, 1978 in Orange County.
Donnie Harold Crisel - The Seal Beach police investigated his murder with the help of psychic Joan Julian, aka Reverend Joan. According to the California Death Index he was born June 7, 1959 in Arkansas and died June 16, 1979 in Orange County.
Robert Wyatt Loggins: A teenage marine found in September. Snapshot's of his body were found in Kraft's home. According to the California Death Index, he was born October 8, 1960 in Texas and died September 3, 1980 in Orange County.
Eric Herbert Church: 21 years old. He was found sodomized, bludgeoned and strangled along the 605 Freeway. Semen found on the body matched Kraft's blood type. According to the California Death Index - he was born July 25, 1961 in Connecticut and died January 27, 1983 in Orange County.
Geoffrey Alan Nelson: Found in Garden Grove on Feb 12, 1983. According to the California Death Index, he was born June 1, 1964 in California, and died February 12, 1983 in Orange County.
Terry Lee Gambrel: 25-year old marine. He was found dead in back of Kraft's car when he was pulled over for drunk driving. His blood had high levels of alcohol and Ativan. He was found in strangled and with his pants down. According to the California Death Index, he was born October 23, 1957 in Kentucky and died May 14, 1983 in Orange County.
Star-News (Pasadena, California) - August 11, 1973
SoCal Joins Texas Sex Gore Scenario
As the grisly mass killings of young boys continued to unfold in East Texas, police in the Southland said Friday they are still baffled over six recent brutal sex murders in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
On July 30, the body of Ronnie Gene Wiebe, 21, of Yorba Linda, was discovered dumped next to a freeway onramp in Seal Beach - only three-tenths of a mile from where the first body was found last Dec. 26.
No suspect or suspects have been apprehended yet in any of the slayings, but authorities said there may be more than one "sexual maniac" loose in the area. Here is how the murder toll has unfolded locally:
Dec. 26 - The body of Edward Daniel Moore, a 19-year-old Marine from Kentucky, is discovered near the 7th Street offramp of the San Gabriel River Freeway in Seal Beach.
Feb. 6 - The nude body of an unidentified young man is found on the Terminal Island Freeway, about one-quarter mile south of Pacific Coast Highway in the Wilmington area.
April 14 - Huntington Beach police discover the nude body of a man behind a bar at Ellis Avenue and Gothard Street. The victim is described as between 20 and 25 years old with long blond hair.
April 22 - Los Angeles police find a torso and other parts of a body in the Wilmington area. The torso is uncovered in a vacant area near Alameda Street and Henry Ford Avenue wrapped in green plastic bags.
May 20 - Another headless body is found in the Wilmington area by a motorist. The body is found in an oil field near Victoria Street in Carson, one-quarter mile east of Wilmington Avenue and is identified only as a while male, about 20 years old.
July 30 - Ronnie Gene Wiebe's body is found on some ice plant next to the 7th Street onramp to the San Diego Freeway near the San Gabriel River freeway.
Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach, California) - August 26, 1973
Secret Witness cases, rewards listed
[several other unrelated cases also mentioned]
A $2,000 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the murderer of five young men in the Southland area since last Dec. 26. The bodies, most of them sexually mutilated and one dismembered and decapitated, have been found in Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach and in the Los Angeles harbor area, but investigators are convinced the murders all were committed by the same person. Three bodies never were identified. The first in the gruesome series, found in Seal Beach Dec. 25, was identified as the body of Camp Pendleton Marine Edward Daniel Moore, 20. The last, found on July 30 and also found in Seal Beach, was identified as the body of Ronnie Jean Wiebe, 21. The three unidentified victims all were about 20.
Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach, California) - June 8, 1975
11 Victims - Killer Lurks In Shadows of Gay Bars
By Mary Neiswender and Brad Altman, Staff Writers
Eleven unsolved, sadistic sex murders in Southern California - all top priority on the books of nine police investigative agencies - have been linked to single killer or killer-team operating out of Long Beach since 1972. And, despite five-month in which there have been no related murders - or, at least, no bodies found - police expect there are more to come.
"Maybe he left the area or is in jail for something else. Or maybe, Long Beach Det. J. J. Hurlbirt, in charge of the investigation, says, "he's able to control himself because of the intensive search going on. Of course, maybe he hasn't stopped, and there are murders we haven't connected or bodies that haven't been found yet."
In any event, the sergeant says, police believe the killer will never change. "He'll kill again." The tie to Long Beach comes in a terse statement in a special confidential brochure on the case put out by the California Department of Justice and distributed to all police departments involved: "In each case, there appears to be a connection between the victim and the City of Long Beach."
In outlining each case, the details back up the statement. All the victims lived in or were frequent visitors to the city; they were picked up in the city or their bodies were brought back to be dumped. The crimes all have a distinctive sadistic trademark - a similarity which ties them together - but which authorities refuse to discuss. But there are other similarities:
All the victims were young, male Caucasians between 17 and 25 years of age with physical similarities. All were murdered at some unknown location and dumped elsewhere. All murders had homosexual overtones. All were killed - after being tortured - by strangulation or suffocation.
It all began on Dec. 25, 1972, when the body of a young Camp Pendleton Marine was found, fully clothed, near the Seventh Street exit of the 605 Freeway. Autopsy reports showed the Marine, Edward D. Moore, had been killed - strangled - during some sort of sadomasochistic sex act in which his wrists and ankles were tied. He had been re-dressed and dumped from a car, the investigation showed. Although the time of death had been set by coroner's deputies as Christmas eve, Moore had been seen last walking the streets of Oceanside at 11:30 pm Dec 22. Reportedly bisexual, Moore frequented gay bars in Long Beach, San Clemente and Oceanside, and was described by members of the Long Beach gay community as "hustler" type.
Less than two weeks later, on Feb 6, 1973, the nude body of another young man - still unidentified - described as between 18 and 20 years old was found near another freeway. He had been strangled and abused. Pictures of the body, found in the brush off the Terminal Island Freeway, were shown to hundreds of persons around the city. He had been seen frequently in homosexual hangouts in Long Beach, primarily in the bluff area along Ocean Boulevard, but no one knew his name.
Two months later, another still-unidentified victim was found in Huntington Beach. The pattern held. He had been tied and tortured, and suffocated to death in the process. Before re-dressing the youth in what police described as biker-style clothing, the killer cut off parts of his body. Although no one knew his name, the youth had been seen frequently along the Long Beach Pike area.
This time the killer waited less than a week to claim another victim. On April 22, police began finding parts of a human body, carefully placed in green plastic bags, strewn along the Terminal Island Freeway, near where the body of the second victim was found. Two arms, from wrist to shoulder, were found in one bag; the right leg, from hip to toe, was found in another, and the torso was found in a third. Three days later, the left leg was found in a trash bin behind a gay bar in Sunset Beach. The next day, the victim's head was found by a startled Gardena paper company employee sorting trash. Coroner's deputies' findings indicated that the pattern still held - the young, about 20, had been tortured, his eyelids removed, and he had died by strangulation. Again, the youth was identified by Long Beach gays as a homosexual who frequented gay bars. But, again, no one knew his name.
It was three months later, July 30, 1973, that the body of 20-year-old Ronnie Wiebe was found in the iceplant off the Seventh Street exit from the 605 Freeway - the place where police had found the first victim. Separated from his wife, Wiebe was last seen alive when he left the Sportsman Bar in Los Alamitos at 1:45 a.m., en route to the parking lot. He never made it to his car. Police maintain he had been strangled during "some sort of masochistic type treatment," then re-dressed and dumped into the ice plant.
It was five months between the time police found Wiebe's body and the time hikers in the San Bernardino foothills found the body of the 23-year-old Vincente Mestes on Dec. 29, 1973. Mestas, a Long Beach State University gay student, had been brutally tortured before being strangled to death. Cuts and burns covered his body. His intestines had been ruptured. Then he was killed and mutilated.
Another five months - until June 2, 1974 - passed before the next victim's body was found near a desert road near the Salton Sea. The victim, 20-year-old Malcom Little, was traced to Long Beach. A truck driver from Selma, Ala., Little was visiting his brother in Long Beach when he decided, on May 27, he would hitchhike home. His brother dropped him off near the San Diego and Garden Grove freeways. Abused and mutilated, Little's nude body was found, in a grotesque pose, a week after he had been killed, coroner's deputies said.
The next month, on June 22, 1974, another naked body was found dumped down a hillside in South Laguna. Twenty-year-old Roger Dickerson told his Marine drinking-buddies in a San Clemente bar that he found someone who would give him a ride to Los Angeles and was leaving. He was found dead the next morning, nude, sodomized, mutilated and strangled to death. His connection to Long Beach would not be revealed by police.
The next victim, 25-year-old Thomas Lee, however, was found in a Long Beach oil field a little more than a month later, Aug. 3, 1974. A San Pedro waiter, Lee's travels before his death were traced through several Long Beach gay bars. When his travels ended, he was nude, mutilated and had been strangled to death.
Nineteen-year-old James Reeves was a known homosexual. He was last seen leaving a gay church in Costa Mesa where he had Thanksgiving dinner and helped with the dishes. The next day his body, covered only by a bloody-stained T-Shirt, was found at the end of a remote road in Irvine. He had been abused. Cause of death: suffocation. Reeves' car, which was last seen parked in the church parking lot, was found abandoned in Belmont Shore.
The last victim, as far as police agencies are concerned, was John Leras, whose body was found in the surf at Sunset Beach on Jan. 3, 1975. He had been tied, abused and suffocated in the sand. His body had been carried into the surf about a mile from where it washed ashore. The youth had disappeared the evening before his body was found. He had been last seen en route to a roller skating rink in Long Beach
The Long Beach connection and the ties to the city's gay community, Hurlbirt maintains, doesn't necessarily mean the killer lives in the city or is gay. "We're not necessarily saying he's homosexual, but he certainly preys on homosexuals and engages in homosexual activities with his victims. And," he adds, "homosexuals that frequent this area are from all over - it's not uncommon to find homosexuals that live in San Francisco spending a considerable amount of time here in our gay bars. Our local establishments advertise in their magazines… they have their gay balls here… more and more homosexuals are gathering here. They become targets for thugs… we're bound to have more violence.
Murders of this type - pick-ups in bars or hitchhiking - are among the hardest to solve, he says. "We can't find anyone who can put the two - the victim and his killer - together. However, we feel there must have been cases of someone being picked up by this guy who got away and he hasn't come forward."
In an attempt to find that person, Hurlbirt says, offices have been going to gay bars, gay churches and colleges to warn prospective victims by passing on information for their protection and to seek information which may help police find the killer. "We've already questioned and eliminated approximately 200 suspects in these cases," Sgt. Hurlbirt says. "So we're ready to follow any kind of clue. We'd like to catch him, but the next best thing to do is stop him. Maybe the intensive investigation by so many agencies has done it."
But homosexual killings, the detective claims, are on the increase, especially in California where the laws have been relaxed. "By making homosexual laws more permissive, types of deaths like this will become even more common," he says, "And what's becoming more common, too, are attacks on youngsters. Just this year, a 12-year-old boy was pulled off his bike in Belmont Shore and another was attacked walking on East Broadway, But can you imagine the ones that are not reported because the families don't want to put the kid through any more… Any young boy or girl hitchhiking today is a fool."
Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) - December 14, 1988
Kraft Judge Points to Evidence, Denies Motion for Acquittal
Saying he has "never seen a case with such overwhelming circumstantial evidence," the judge in the Randy Steven Kraft trial on Tuesday denied a defense request that he acquit Kraft on 14 of 16 murder counts.
Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin acknowledged that in eight of the murders, prosecutors have to rely on similarities among those cases and with the other murders where some physical evidence exists. But the judge added that "clearly there are certain threads that run through the evidence."
Some, the judge said, "just jump out at you."
Kraft, 43, is charged with 16 murders in what some experts say is the most expensive and potentially the longest trial in Orange County history. Prosecutors have rested their case, and the jury is scheduled to return to McCartin's Santa Ana courtroom Jan. 9 for the start of the defense's case.
The Kraft attorneys Tuesday made a dramatic and sometimes passionate plea to the judge to acquit Kraft in 14 murders, particularly eight murders that they insisted lack any prosecution evidence.
Kraft attorney C. Thomas McDonald argued that Deputy Dist. Atty. Bryan F. Brown took only 45 minutes to present his entire case in the murder of 20-year-old Ronnie G. Wiebe—"20 minutes of which was futzing around with the overhead projector."
If prosecutor Brown thinks Kraft killed Wiebe, "by God make him prove it," McDonald said. "It's not there."
McDonald and defense attorney William J. Kopeny forcefully argued that although there may be a hundred "trivial" similarities in the series of murders, there also are major dissimilarities.
McDonald argued that the evidence in the Wiebe murder "is zero, absolute zero… . There is not a single common thread that is so distinctive that it says Mr. Kraft did this."
The attorneys challenged Brown to articulate for the court the evidence that he sees in each murder. Brown declined. After a lengthy argument by Kopeny, Brown summed up his case in less than a minute: "It's a seamless web of guilt that is shrouding down on Mr. Kraft. The evidence is overwhelming."
The judge responded that the prosecutor should state for the record his arguments on the counts challenged by the defense—and then continued to make those arguments himself. Brown finally jumped back into the fray after the defense began attacking the judge's arguments.
For example, the judge disagreed with the defense contention that the evidence in the Wiebe murder is insufficient.
Wiebe's body was found along the eastbound 7th Street on-ramp to the San Diego Freeway in Seal Beach on July 30, 1973. His body had been clothed after death, and one of his socks was found in a body cavity. His shoes and belt were missing. He died of strangulation by a cord or rope, according to the pathologist.
Although the defense claims that none of those facts link the crime to Kraft, the judge pointed to them as important evidence because of their similarity to conditions in other murders in the case. The judge noted that another victim, Edward Daniel Moore, was found with a sock in a body cavity 7 months earlier, and his body had been dumped just a short distance from where Wiebe was dumped.
The defense countered that there was no evidence tying Kraft to Moore either.
But the judge and prosecutor Brown both cited the list found in Kraft's car when he was arrested. Prosecutors consider the 61-entry list to be Kraft's score card of his victims. Brown claims that "7th Street" on the list refers to Wiebe, and "EDM" on the list refers to Moore.
"The conclusion that (the EDM entry) is a statement'I have killed Edward Daniel Moore'is absolutely inescapable," Brown said.
Defense attorney Kopeny countered that prosecutors have failed to prove Moore's killer knew his middle initial. The defense has called the list meaningless.
Kopeny also vigorously challenged the evidence related to the murder of Mark Howard Hall, who was found near Bedford Peak in south Orange County. Prosecutors presented evidence that Kraft's fingerprints were found on a piece of glass from a shattered bottle near the body.
"They've got this lone thumbprint of unknown vintage," Kopeny said. He argued that prosecutors failed to prove when the fingerprint was left there.
Brown told the judge: "This business about the glass and Mark Hall is about all I can take." He noted that the bottle's neck had blood on it and that the object was found just 11 inches from the victim's head.
That's not good enough, Kopeny challenged. Who knows whether Kraft left his prints there earlier, before the real killer used the bottle while killing Hall.
Kopeny also told the judge that although his strongest arguments apply to the eight murders in which prosecutors relied on the killer's method of operation, he is not conceding a strong case against Kraft in the other murders.
In the Wyatt Loggins and Rodger James DeVaul Jr. murders, for example, the victims' pictures were found in Kraft's car.
"The prosecutor must prove that Mr. Kraft killed them, not just that he had some connection with them," Kopeny argued.
The judge said he would permit the defense to renew its arguments at the conclusion of defense evidence.