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Witness Says Kraft Drugged and Sexually Attacked Him in 1970

Times Staff Writer

Joseph Alvin Fancher, a burly, tattooed biker with a thick beard, could barely get the words out Monday as he told jurors how, when he was 13 years old, convicted serial killer Randy Steven Kraft drugged him, then repeatedly sodomized and sexually assaulted him.

Fancher, in custody on a parole violation, was the prosecution’s first witness on the opening day of testimony in the penalty phase of Kraft’s 10-month trial.

Kraft was convicted in Santa Ana last month of murdering 16 young men in Orange County in 1972-83. Now jurors will hear testimony from each side to determine whether to return a verdict of death in the gas chamber or one of life without parole for the 44-year-old computer consultant.

Tied to 45 Deaths

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Although Kraft has been linked with 45 deaths altogether, prosecutors have decided to introduce just eight of those in the penalty phase, plus the attack on Fancher. Six of the murders occurred in Oregon and two in Michigan, when Kraft was in those states on business in 1980-82.

Fancher, now 32, had kept the March 11, 1970, sexual assault a secret for 13 years, until two Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigators double-checking an old police report knocked on the door of his apartment in Colorado in 1983.

Fancher explained Monday in the Santa Ana courtroom why he kept the incident secret: “How do you tell something like that to your mom, something you don’t understand yourself?”

Fancher told jurors that the drugs made him too drowsy to resist the forceful advances at Kraft’s Long Beach apartment. “It was like I was a rag doll,” he said.

Fancher had testified about the incident at Kraft’s preliminary hearing in Orange County nearly six years ago. Since then, Fancher has served a jail sentence for auto theft and recently returned to custody on a parole violation for driving while drunk. He is now housed in Orange County Jail on a separate floor from Kraft and is due for release next month.

Reports on Kraft Sought

After Kraft’s arrest in 1983, the sheriff’s chief investigator, James A. Sidebotham, asked area police agencies for any reports involving Kraft. One of the reports from the Long Beach Police Department said a 13-year-old runaway had told them that he had taken drugs at Kraft’s apartment.

Investigators Dan Martini and Stan Kincaid traced the runaway--Fancher, by then 26--to Colorado. They flew to Colorado to check that and dozens of other leads.

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Fancher did not want to tell jurors Monday about the assault. “I don’t want to talk about it,” Fancher said, his chin down on his chest.

At one point, when Fancher considered questions by Deputy Dist. Atty. Bryan F. Brown too detailed, he answered: “You’re starting to aggravate me.”

Brown, who had put Fancher through the same story in his 1983 testimony, slowly worked the answers from him.

Fancher told jurors that he had run away from his home in Westminster by bicycle that day and had met Kraft near the Huntington Beach Pier. Fancher said Kraft gave him a cigarette, then offered to let him stay at his apartment. The witness said Kraft also offered him sex with a woman.

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Kraft Showed Him Pictures

At his apartment, Kraft first showed him some black-and-white pornographic pictures, some of which depicted Kraft engaged in sex with another man, Fancher said.

Then Kraft offered him some red pills, Fancher told jurors, which he took with a glass of wine.

When he told Kraft that the pills had not affected him, Kraft gave him four more. These made him extremely drowsy, he said.

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Fancher said Kraft first forced him to commit an act of oral copulation, then sodomized him, then threatened to kill him if he moved while Kraft left the room briefly. Kraft then returned and sodomized him again and slapped him enough to leave his face bruised, Fancher said.

Taken to a Hospital

After the assaults, Kraft left. Fancher said he got dressed and left but was stumbling so much that someone had to help him across the street. He was immediately taken to a hospital.

At the hospital, Fancher told police that he had been drugged but did not mention the sexual assault. Though he did not explain why in court Monday, at the preliminary hearing in 1983 Fancher said that he feared that no one would believe him.

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Fancher said that his family abandoned him after the incident and that police never returned to talk to him.

Kraft’s attorney, James G. Merwin, had barely begun his cross-examination of Fancher when court had to break for the day because a juror had to attend a funeral.

After court, Merwin suggested a reason that Long Beach police never followed up on the initial report: “I think they just didn’t believe him.”

Merwin said that Fancher is probably telling the truth about what happened to him but that he possibly has the wrong man.

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Merwin acknowledged, however, that the address Fancher gave police in 1970 had been Kraft’s.

Fancher is scheduled to return today for more questioning.


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