Another in the tradition of California freeway killer. Randy, a graduate of the prestigious Claremont Men's College, liked to pick up young men, especially marines, drug them and strangle them. On May 14, 1983, a highway patrolman stopped Kraft in Mission Viejo for suspected drunk driving and noticed the dead marine sitting next to him. In the car, police also found pictures of several other victims, and a so-called death list with the victims' addresses and other incriminating items.
Prosecutors suspect Kraft killed as many as 45 young men in Southern California, Oregon and Michigan. A soft-spoken former computer programmer, he targeted hitchhikers between 18 and 25 years old. Many were sexually tortured before being strangled with their own belts. One victim's eyes had been burned with a cigarette lighter. Another man's head was found in the waters off the Long Beach Marina. Authorities believe he strangled his victims after drugging and sexually assaulting them, spawning Orange County's longest and costliest murder case.
After a 13-month trial, jurors deliberated two days before sentencing Kraft to death. The trial court judge upheld the penalty, saying the killings and mutilations were beyond comprehension. "I can't imagine doing these things in scientific experiments on a dead person, much less [to] someone alive," said Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin at the time.Randy was known as the "Score-Card Killer," because he kept a coded notebook with a tally of all his kills. Police linked him to sixty-two deaths spanning three states, but only sixteen have been proven conclusively.
Before sentencing, Kraft strongly maintained his innocence. "I have not murdered anyone, and I believe a reasonable review of the record will show that," he told the judge. In his appeal, Kraft argued that his original trial was riddled with more than 20 legal errors. His most serious charge claimed the judge erred in allowing prosecutors to use as evidence the "death list." His attorneys alleged that the list--a sheet of paper bearing 61 cryptic entries that prosecutors called a "score card" of victims--improperly prejudiced the jury against him. But the Supreme Court disagreed, saying the list was relevant to the case.
On August 11, 2000, the California Supreme Court upheld his death sentence in what officials described as an important advance in the effort to execute the notorious serial killer. The justices unanimously rejected Kraft's claims that he received an unfair trial, saying he should die for the decade-long murder spree.