No matter how much research is done, most of society will simply never understand what drives mass murderers to kill, and that’s probably a good thing. All we can truly know is that these disturbed and deranged individuals are able to take lives en masse and seemingly without remorse, the traditional feelings of guilt and shame replaced with pride and an overpowering sense of accomplishment. Because of this, most serial killers don’t just end their victims’ lives, but they also keep “trophies” or small artifacts stolen from the deceased to remember them by, reliving the satisfaction of the crime each time they look at it.
In some cases, a trinket stolen from a person they killed isn’t enough. For Randy Steven Kraft, who claimed to suffer obsessive-compulsive disorder, it barely even began to fulfill his inner desire to remember every important detail about the people he murdered. The only way to accomplish that would be to take pictures and write detailed notes about 61 men he murdered, tortured, and sexually abused during one of the most prolific killing sprees in American history.
The graphic and detailed notes Kraft left about his crimes led to police dubbing him “The Scorecard Killer,” a fitting epithet for a man of his terror. Given about half of his victims were found wandering down California highways looking for free rides, he’s also earned distinction as “The Freeway Killer.” Either way, a better term for men like Kraft would probably be “monster,” as decades of his life were solely dedicated to inflicting pure horror onto his unsuspecting prey. For all the grisly specifics, keep reading to find 15 terrifying details about “The Scorecard Killer” Randy Steven Kraft.
15. He May Have Suffered Childhood Brain Damage
When discussing terrible people like Randy Steven Kraft, the first thing researchers like to do is look at their childhood, seeking clues for how they were later driven to senselessly take lives. For the most part, however, Kraft’s own upbringing was entirely normal, free of the abuse and torment most future mass murderers tend to suffer. His father was somewhat distant, albeit not abusively so, and the family was incredibly conservative, which later caused some issues when they learned Kraft was gay, but there’s no indication he himself even realized that until his 20s. The one thing from Kraft’s childhood that might explain his later behavior is that he was apparently incredibly accident prone as a toddler, once suffering a severe head injury that some insiders later speculated caused brain damage. Given what he went on to do, it’s easy to jump to conclusions and say there was definitely something wrong with Kraft’s brain.
14. He Was Extremely Intelligent From A Young Age
Regardless of whether or not he permanently injured the part of his brain dealing with impulse control, most people who knew the guy believed other parts of Randy Steven Kraft’s mind were actually in pretty spectacular shape. Obviously, the fact he killed dozens of people contradicts this suggestion, but there’s also his reported 129 IQ, placing him well above average, indicating it wasn’t pure conjecture either. While still in school, Kraft was quite well liked by his peers despite a quiet personality, excelling in most classes and serving on the debate team. He also had a strong interest in politics, at first conservative like his parents, and then strictly liberal after coming out while in the military. After he was caught, Kraft’s defense attorneys called witnesses, arguing a man of his intelligence could never do something as horrific as murder, but the unfortunate truth is, the two issues are often entirely unrelated.
13. He Kept A Steady Diet Of “Speed And Beer”
After moving away from his parents and coming out as gay, Randy Steven Kraft’s life underwent several major changes, as could be expected. Unfortunately, his actions weren’t those of a newly liberated young man ready to live his life freely at long last, but rather a vicious drug abuser waiting for the wrong cocktail to set him off and commit vicious actions. According to Kraft’s roommates, he kept a constant diet of “speed and beer,” during this time, also engaging in a heavy marijuana habit and keeping countless other pills around his apartment for personal use and — let’s call it — “sharing.” Little did his roommates know, some of those pills were sedatives, which he would slip into victims’ drinks before torturing and then killing. Kraft was also a huge proponent of the party lifestyle in general, spending most of his time either working at or visiting gay bars, where he found many of his victims.
12. He Murdered 60+ Victims Over A 12-Year Span
Living life in a drug-fueled drunken haze can cause people to do some crazy things. That said, most freewheeling alcoholics harm themselves more than anyone else, while Randy Steven Kraft left as many as 67 bodies in his wake, all suffering far, far more than he ever did. All of Kraft’s victims were men, ranging from as young as 13 to those in their mid-20s. His two favorite targets were fellow homosexuals he met at gay bars or former members of the military, specifically Marines. Kraft would lead them on in one way or another before trying to have sex with them, which some of the ones he met at gay bars may have considered, but usually took the Marines heavily off guard. Somewhere along the way, Kraft would also offer them a beer laced with sedatives, his true desires finally revealed the second his victims started getting woozy.
11. His Victims Were Also Tortured And Mutilated
(Warning: it’s nearly impossible to present the details of Kraft’s crimes without getting extremely graphic.)
Anyone who can murder over five-dozen men and show no remorse for it is obviously a monster of the highest order, and yet this is merely the tip of the iceberg in Randy Steven Kraft’s villainy. Arguably worse than the fact he inevitably strangled his victims to death is what he did with their semi-unconscious bodies after drugging them but before taking their lives. Kraft was a sexual sadist to the highest degree, leaving bite marks on the majority of his victims’ genitals—if he let them keep their parts, that is. Other times, he castrated, emasculated, and otherwise mutilated his prey prior to death. Usually, something would get shoved into their backside, like socks, twigs, or their own removed member. When Kraft didn’t cut his victim’s manhood off, he’d shove something up there, too, sometimes with such force, it could rupture their bladders.
10. Police Once Made A Huge Mistake In Trying To Stop Him
Arguably the most harrowing element of Randy Steven Kraft’s crimes isn’t found in the specifics of what he did, but rather, the fact nearly all of it could have been prevented. In early 1970, Kraft was simply a man working at and enjoying the atmosphere of his local gay bar. It was March of that year, however, when his crime spree began, with the kidnapping, drugging, and sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy. The victim, Joseph Fancher, went to police and told them what had happened, leaving out the sexual assault part due to embarrassment or shame. There was still more than enough for police to search Kraft’s house, though, where they found empty pill bottles suggesting the kid was telling the truth about being physically assaulted and drugged. Unfortunately, they forgot to get a warrant before conducting this search, meaning nothing they found could be used in court. Because Fancher didn’t come forward with the sexual element of the crime, his accusation didn’t really mean much either, as police had no other evidence to investigate.
9. He Was Caught Drunk With A Dead Victim
In May of 1983, police officers noticed Randy Steven Kraft driving erratically down the California freeway and pulled him over for what they assumed was a routine DUI bust. Kraft admitted he had been drinking but alleged he was still good to drive, leading to the standard field sobriety test. While one officer was having Kraft touch his nose, the other noticed a passenger in his car who appeared unconscious and attempted to wake him up. To the officer’s shock and horror, he soon realized the man, later identified as Marine Terry Gambrel, was dead. Upon removing a jacket from the corpse’s lap, he also noticed the man’s jeans were around his ankles and his hands were tied together by a shoelace. The whole time, Kraft acted like nothing was wrong, even asking officers if his friend was “alright” in completely normal tones. Given this behavior in accordance with what they found, that routine DUI turned into an arrest for murder — and not just Gambrel’s.
8. He Kept Detailed Notes About Everyone He Killed
Not looking to make the same mistake twice, California police made sure to do everything right in getting the proper warrants to search Randy Steven Kraft’s car (pictured above) after his DUI/murder arrest. It was a good thing they did because what they found made it abundantly clear Terry Gambrel was far from Kraft’s only victim. In addition to countless pills, beer bottles, a belt they believed he used to strangle Gambrel, and a disturbing number of aged bloodstains on the carpet, authorities also discovered a binder featuring some truly terrifying data. Inside, Kraft had carefully documented 61 previous victims, coded with either their initials, nickname, a brief description, or where they had met. Sometimes, the code would imply double murders, ultimately raising his potential victim count as high as 67. At this point, around 40 of the names found in the book have been decoded or semi-decoded and matched to a body, the rest remaining a mystery to police to this day.
7. He Also Took Photographs Of Most Victims
Considering Kraft’s high-level intelligence, the opportunities for him to spin the notebook of his victims into something else were actually almost boundless. Until police found bodies and further evidence proving he was responsible for them dying, Kraft could say a note about “Portland Hawaii” or “Marine Carson” had nothing to do with the alleged victims. Luckily for investigators, the notebook wasn’t all they found, and the next piece of evidence was something Kraft could never come up with an excuse for. After all, there’s really no explanation for how a person could have photographs of a dead body slumped on their couch unless they had killed that person and posed it to take the picture. Kraft performed actions like this as many as 50 times, although it isn’t clear if that means he did so with 50 separate victims or if a small number of them were photographed repeatedly. Given how many murders he was charged with, it’s probably the latter, but that doesn’t mean there were dozens more victims he simply ran out of film for before being able to add to his photo album.
6. He Was Sentenced To Death For His Crimes
While police originally only intended to charge Randy Steven Kraft with a DUI, the body they found in his car meant one murder count was obviously getting added to the docket right away. Over the next several months, research into the notebook and photographs they also discovered led to 15 additional counts of homicide, all of which he was convicted of after a 13-month long and extremely expensive trial. On top of the physical evidence in his car, prosecutors would elaborate how Kraft was seen around the locations of the murders at the time they happened, plus the fact he kept various belongings stolen from his victims that were later found in his apartment. Three months after the trial, the same jury that agreed Kraft was guilty decided he deserved the death penalty for his crimes, a ruling the judge strongly concurred with and thus enacted in short order.
5. He Firmly Maintains His Innocence
Although there’s nothing to suggest Randy Steven Kraft is mentally ill, insane, or incompetent, it practically goes without saying the man is a sociopath in the most literal sense of the word. From the moment he was caught with a murder victim in his car, Kraft has had absolutely no negative reaction to the volumes of evidence making his crimes abundantly clear. His only response is to calmly claim he didn’t kill or hurt anyone and it’s all a massive conspiracy against him because he’s gay. According to Kraft, the notebook of his victims was actually a random list of friends and minor facts about them, kept due to his obsessive-compulsive disorder. The photographs of victims were all consensual, somehow, and the victims apparently weren’t as dead as they looked. As for Gambrel, he was as shocked as the cops when they realized his pal wasn’t breathing. That he can maintain this façade with a straight face is truly inhuman.
4. Authorities Believe He Had Unknown Accomplices
For as rock solid as the evidence against Randy Steven Kraft was on all 16 counts of murder levied against him, there were still a few questions in relation to his case that police don’t quite understand. How can one man, and not a particularly large one at that, physically manhandle former Marines and carry their bodies miles away from where he murdered them? Sure, the drugs made the killing part easy enough, but moving a 200+ pound body without garnering any attention is no easy task. With this in mind, authorities have long believed Kraft must have had an accomplice, or possibly two, in at least some of his more complex murders. If there wasn’t someone outright helping him, there must have been a roommate or friend who knew something wasn’t right about the guy or so they suspect. Kraft himself denies everything, so he won’t talk on this subject either, and any specific individuals police have investigated turned out to be innocent. Nonetheless, there could’ve been another person out there who delighted in Kraft’s crimes and is free to brag about it.
3. Why Is He Still Alive?
Before we get to the specifics of why Randy Steven Kraft has yet to be executed, let’s take a second and recap the timeline of his crimes. Kraft’s first known victim was killed in 1971, followed by a 12-year murder spree that ended upon his apprehension in 1983. After six years of legal wrangling, a court finally convicted Kraft of serial murder and he was sentenced to death in 1989. This article is being written in 2017, a full 28 years after California decided Kraft deserved to die for his crimes.
Everyone knows the hands of justice can be swift, yet this still seems like a remarkably long time for a person to wait on death row, especially given the number of lives Kraft took. In fact, this isn’t that unusual, as many death row inmates do whatever it takes to elongate their time on this Earth as long as possible. Kraft has done so by petitioning for retrials on several occasions, his most common accusation being that the jury pool was somehow tainted against him. There’s also the issue his crimes took place in California, a state with notoriously mixed feelings on the death penalty.
2. Fellow Inmates Once Plotted To Kill Him
Believe it or not, some prisons have their own strange inner justice systems, and we’re not just talking about the ones seen on TV. When prisoners hear a particular inmate’s crimes were especially vicious, specifically in the case of child killers and molesters like Randy Steven Kraft, they might take matters into their own hands and viciously beat the guy for what he did. This sort of behavior will usually add a few years to an inmate’s sentence, but they might find it worth it to teach a pervert the lesson death penalty protesters are preventing him from learning. According to Orange County Jail officials, Kraft nearly faced this sort of fate before officers unraveled a prison-wide conspiracy plot to kill him. Why exactly his fellow inmates wanted him dead isn’t entirely clear, though we assume his victim count speaks for itself.
1. He’s Only One Of Several Freeway Killers
Prior to police learning about Randy Steven Kraft and his terrifying favorite pastime, all they knew was that the number of dismembered and disfigured bodies found on the California highways was getting wildly out of control. Granted, one discarded corpse missing limbs or genitals is a nightmare in and of itself, but dozens if not hundreds of them is serious cause for community outrage. For over a two-decade span, the Sunshine State faced exactly this sort of menace, and Kraft alone wasn’t the only reason. In addition to his moniker as “The Scorecard Killer,” Kraft was known as one of several “Freeway Killers” because of where his victims were found. This name is less commonly used in reference to him, however, because there were actually two other men doing the exact same thing in almost the exact same time. There were also Patrick Kearney and William Bonin, the latter of whom was sentenced to the same prison as Kraft and allegedly once had a regular bridge game with him during their incarceration.
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