Alleged ‘Death List’ Made Public as Kraft Trial Opens
A handwritten sheet of paper that prosecutors claim is Randy Steven Kraft’s “death list” of victims was made public for the first time Monday, revealing 61 entries that prosecutors allege helps connect Kraft to a total of 45 murders of young men.
Included are six consecutive references to “Portland,” which prosecutors say refers to six Oregon murders among the 45, followed by the entry “GR 2.” Prosecutors claim that Kraft killed two young men together in Grand Rapids, Mich., in early 1983, shortly after
some of the Oregon murders.
The list was made public by Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin after opening statements at Kraft’s murder trial in Santa Ana.
Kraft, now 43, a Long Beach computer consultant, is accused of more murders than anyone in the history of California. He was arrested May 14, 1983, when two California Highway Patrol officers who stopped him for a traffic violation found a dead Marine in the front seat of his car.
After nearly five years of delays, he has gone on trial on charges of 16 Orange County murders. Prosecutors have accused him of another 29 murders, and if Kraft is convicted, they plan to use most of them against him in seeking a death verdict at a penalty phase of the trial.
But it was Kraft’s lawyers who took the offensive during opening statements Monday. Kraft attorney C. Thomas McDonald told jurors that the prosecutor was trying to “inflame you and color your thinking” by repeating for them a litany of the lurid details of the 16 sex-related murders.
“The prosecution in this case is based on speculation, suspicion and rhetoric,” McDonald contended.
McDonald claimed that prosecutors will produce no evidence linking Kraft with any of the 16 deaths. He accused Deputy Dist. Atty. Bryan F. Brown of trying to get the jurors to “arrive at a pre-conceived decision before you’ve even listened to the evidence.”
Brown did not mention the list found in Kraft’s car in his own opening statement, nor did McDonald.
But defense attorneys have denied it is a “death list” and have called it meaningless.
The list had been sealed by court order for nearly five years. But McCartin said there was no reason to keep it secret once lawyers had outlined the case for jurors. (Only about a dozen or so entries on the list had been made public previously.)
8 New Murders
In other documents made public Monday, prosecutors for the first time linked the list with the names of 43 of the 45 people that they allege Kraft killed between 1971 and 1983. That includes eight new murders, all in Los Angeles County, that have not been revealed before.
The list is actually a series of notations--"Airplane Hill” and “New Year’s Eve,” for example--that prosecutors say is Kraft’s own code for his murders.
The two murders that prosecutors say are not on the list are Eric Church, 20, and Terry Lee Gambrel, 25, the Marine whose body was found in Kraft’s car. Church, they say, may be connected to the list, but they simply don’t know the connection. They claim that Kraft was arrested before he could put Gambrel on the list.
Besides the 16 murders for which Kraft is being tried, prosecutors had planned to use another 21 other murders against Kraft if he is convicted and the trial reaches a penalty phase. Those 37 murders have been part of the case since 1984. But because prosecutors now claim eight additional murders are connected to the Kraft list, they have not ruled out adding them to their case if the trial reaches a penalty phase.
The eight additional killings occurred from Feb. 6, 1973, to July 29, 1982, less than a year before Kraft’s arrest on the San Diego Freeway in South Orange County, when the body of Gambrel, who was based at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, was found in Kraft’s car.
The last of the eight were two teen-age boys whose bodies were found in Echo Park next to the Hollywood Freeway, according to Orange County prosecutors. One of the boys, 13-year-old Raymond Davis, had gone to the park to look for his lost dog, prosecutors said. The other boy was 16-year-old Robert Avila. Their bodies were found next to each other. Both had been strangled.
Found Near Castaic
The others are Craig Victor Jonaites, 24, whose body was found in Long Beach in 1975; Mark Alan Marsh, 20, whose body was found near Castaic in 1980; Thomas Paxton Lee, 25, found in Long Beach in 1974, and three unidentified males named only as ‘John Does.’ Two of these were found in 1973 and the other in 1979.
Prosecutors claim that the list has validity, in part, because the entries are to some degree in chronological order.
For example, the first item on the list is “Stable.” In the documents unsealed Monday, prosecutors revealed that they believe the entry refers to Wayne J. Dukette, found dead Oct. 5, 1971. This is the earliest of the 45 murders in the accusations.
The unsealed papers indicate that Dukette, 30, had worked at a Sunset Beach bar known as Stables, and that it was adjacent to a bar where Kraft worked called the Broom Hilda. Kraft frequented the Stables, prosecutors say.
The earliest of the Orange County murders in the 16 charges was that of Edward Daniel Moore, 20, a Marine found dead Dec. 26, 1972, in Seal Beach. Prosecutors say “EDM,” the third from the top on the Kraft list, refers to Moore.
Prosecutors have claimed that Kraft listed the six Oregon murders together as a way of keeping score on them. They further claim that the murders from the early 1970s tend to be in the first column of the list and that most of the murders connected to the list in the last five years before Kraft’s arrest tend to be in the second column.
The prosecution document also reveals much detail about some of the murders connected to the case since 1984, some of which have been barely more than names on a page.
Called Kraft Hangout
For example, James Dale Reeves, 19, was found alongside the San Diego Freeway in Irvine on Nov. 27, 1974. In documents made public Monday, prosecutors say that Reeves’ car was found in the parking lot in front of the Ripples Bar in Long Beach, which they identified as a favorite Kraft hangout. The entry on the list called “Twiggie” refers to Reeves, prosecutors claim, because the victim was mutilated with a long stick, or twig.
New information also came to light on John William Leras, 17, who was found dead on Jan. 4, 1975, in the surf at Sunset Beach. Prosecutors say he had last been seen with a new pair of roller skates at a bus stop near the Ripples. “Skates” on the Kraft list refers to him, prosecutors say.
The prosecution information made public Monday also reveals a pattern that Deputy Dist. Atty. Brown noted for the jury about the 16 Orange County murders: Most of the victims were last seen on weekends.
Brown asked jurors to pay close attention to the day on which each of the 16 victims was last seen or was found dead. It was only one of several characteristics that link most of the murders together, he told jurors.
Brown called Kraft “an extremely intelligent individual” and noted that he was a graduate of Claremont Men’s College.
But Brown added that Kraft created his own evidence for the prosecution by keeping what Brown called “mementoes” of his victims.
For example, color photographs of three of the young men in the 16 murder charges, all posed in death, were found either in Kraft’s car or at his home in Long Beach.
Brown alleged that most victims, before their deaths, had been given what the prosecutor called “the combo"--a combination of alcohol and drugs--to make them helpless to fight Kraft.
Brown also listed for jurors physical evidence common to most of the victims: Most had been either sexually assaulted or their bodies mutilated. Most had been tied about the wrists with their own shoelaces. And almost all of them had been strangled to death.
All of the victims in the 16 Orange County murder charges were between the ages of 18 and 25, and all were white. Six of the 16 were Marines, Brown said. He added that most of the victims apparently were hitchhiking shortly before their deaths.
Defense attorney McDonald objected several times to the tone of Brown’s opening statement, which he said sounded more like a prosecutor’s closing argument.
In his own opening statement, McDonald told jurors that when Brown claims Kraft picked up these victims and drugged them, he is telling them something that will never come from anyone testifying in the witness stand.
“There will be no evidence of any of that--none,” McDonald said angrily.
He went on to describe Kraft as a “homeowner, taxpayer and hard worker” who happens to be gay and was involved in a long-term sexual relationship with another man at the time of his arrest.
Kraft, dressed in beltless blue jeans and white tennis shoes, but with a blue dress shirt and dark tie, listened intently to Brown’s long list of accusations. The defendant took notes and talked often with his attorneys throughout the proceedings.
Testimony in the trial began with two Marines who knew Gambrel, and who said he had left the El Toro base the night he was last seen alive to attend a party in Garden Grove.
They were followed by Michael Sterling, one of the two California Highway Patrol officers who arrested Kraft in 1983. During McDonald’s cross-examination of Sterling, Kraft himself took over the questioning.
Kraft has been granted limited right as co-counsel to question some of the witnesses. Through his questioning, Kraft tried to show discrepancies between Sterling’s account of the arrest and the testimony that the officer gave at a preliminary hearing five years ago. Sterling said he could not give a verbatim account of his earlier testimony.
While McDonald’s comments to the jury were heated compared to the prosecutor’s, they were mild compared to some of the remarks Judge McCartin made outside the jury’s presence.
Judge Becomes Angry
McCartin was angry because he was confronted by a new request from the Orange County Register relating to its attempts to get him to make public information that the jurors had given the court about themselves in a questionnaire.
McCartin at first said the Register could appeal his refusal all the way to the nation’s capital, a reference to the U.S. Supreme Court, if they wanted to and called the request “garbage.” He also suggested a midnight hearing on the issue to accommodate the news media. But the judge said he may ask jurors later whether they want the information released.
The following is a list of the rest of the entries from the alleged Kraft “death list” not made public until Monday, and how prosecutors say they are linked to young men they claim he has killed:
“Vince M"--Vincent Crux Mestas, 23, found in San Bernardino County in 1973.
“Wilmington"--John Doe, found in the Wilmington area of Los Angeles in 1973.
“Pier 2"--Thomas Paxton Lee, 25, found on Aug. 2, 1974, on a pier in an an oil field area of Long Beach harbor.
“Deodorant"--Robert Avila, 16, found wearing heavy deodorant in Los Angeles in 1982.
“DOG"--Raymond Davis, 13, last seen looking for his lost dog in Echo Park, found next to Avila.
“Teen Trucker"--Malcolm Eugene Little, 20, a truck driver found in 1974 in Seal Beach.
Also listed are:
“Lakes MC"--Gregory Wallace Jolley, 20, found in 1979 in San Bernardino County, who often wore Marine Corps clothing and was last seen in the Lake Arrowhead area.
“MC Laguna"--Roger E. Dickerson, 18, a Marine found dead in Laguna Beach in 1974.
“Golden Sails"--Craig Victor Jonaites, 24, found in 1975 near the Golden Sails Hotel/Bar in Long Beach.
“Hawth Off Head"--a John Doe, whose body was cut up and found in various parts of Long Beach and Wilmington.
“76"--John Doe, found in a dumpster at the Union 76 station in Long Beach in 1979.
“SD Dope"--Mikeal Lane, 24, found in San Diego County in 1982 and known as a drug user.
“Big Sur"--Gary Wayne Cordova, 23, found in South Orange County in 1974, who talked frequently to friends about Big Sur.
“Marine Head BP"--Mark Alan Marsh, 20, a Marine known to be hitchhiking to Buena Park, found in the Castaic area in 1980.
An obscenity on the list was linked to Paul J. Fuchs, 18, who disappeared in 1976 and was never found.
“Westminster Date"--Jeffrey Bryan Sayre, 15, last seen in 1979 after a date with a girlfriend in Westminster and never found.
“Torrance"--Richard A. Crosby, 20, found in San Bernardino County in 1978, and last seen on his way to a movie in Torrance.
“Hollywood Bus"--Christopher R. Williams, 17, a known male prostitute who worked out of bus stops in Hollywood, found in San Bernardino County in 1981.
The Portland entries that prosecutors say are connected to the six Oregon victims include the added words of “Denver,” “ECK,” “Blood,” “Hawaii,” “Reserve” and “Head.”
The list includes another 20 entries that prosecutors say they cannot connect to any known victim.
Times staff writer Bob Schwartz contributed to this story.
ALLEGED HANDWRITTEN DEATH LIST These 61 handwritten entries were found on a sheet of paper in murder defendant Randy Kraft’s car trunk when he was arrested May 14, 1983. Orange County prosecutors claim the list is Kraft’s score card of his victims. Kraft’s attorneys have denied it is a “death list” and call the entries meaningless.
The complete list was part of prosecution documents made public Monday by Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin. In those documents, prosecutors identify by name 43 victims they claim can be connected to 41 of the entries. (They contend that “GR 2" and “2 in 1 Beach” are double victims.) That accounts for all but 2 of the 45 young men whom Orange County prosecutors claim Kraft killed.
Prosecutors also claim that an expert has identified the handwriting on the list as Kraft’s.
* Obscenity deleted