Serial Killer Living Down the Street

By Steve Propes

In the pantheon of famed serial killers, among the most notorious was Randy Kraft. Now sitting on San Quentin Prison’s Death Row, the 78-year-old Kraft was a Long Beach resident when he was arrested in May 1983 by a highway patrolman who suspected him of driving under the influence.

When the officer found a dead Marine in the passenger seat and a list and photos of victims, it led to Kraft being dubbed the “Scorecard Killer.”

Wilson High graduate Ric Bell, now 80, who lives in Oregon, recalled Kraft at that time resided at the 800 block of Roswell Avenue, very near Seventh and Redondo Avenue on the east side of Long Beach. Bell, who lived two doors down toward Eighth Street for multiple decades, said Kraft “moved in in the early 1970s.”

Though dubbed a computer tech, Bell said he believes Kraft’s income was derived from frequent yard sales. “That’s how he met people besides the bars,” said Bell, who spoke to Kraft several times and likely bought from him at least once, but doesn’t recall what it was.

Bell stated Kraft was “cagey. He didn’t meet your eyes, don’t answer questions.” Besides being cagey, “he didn’t want to know any neighbors” on this block, which consisted of tight-knit families.

The house Kraft took over, was previously known as the Buck house, owned by a missionary in China and who had lived in the house for the previous 20 years. Bell said Buck was “a real saint in 80s or 90s.” The house in which Bell grew up was cobbled together by his father from several homes badly damaged and tagged for destruction after the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake.

Between the two houses that were owned by Wilson High music teacher and orchestra leader, Nick Furjanick and his family, who had moved out prior to Kraft’s arrival. Born in Long Beach in 1945, Kraft spent his youth in Midway City, moving back to Long Beach at about the same time as a series of murders of young males, which involved alcohol, drugs and sometimes gruesome mutilations involving sexual organs.

It was one of these victims who put Kraft back in the news. According to the L.A. Times (Nov. 29, 2023), “Michael Ray Schlicht, who died when he was 17 in 1974, was identified Tuesday by investigators with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department using investigative genetic genealogy. The Iowa native was found dead on Sept. 14, 1974, on the side of a trail in what is now Aliso Viejo. He had been dead for three to five days, according to authorities, and died of alcohol and diazepam intoxication. His death was initially determined to be accidental.

“Homicide investigators with the Sheriff’s Department realized in 1980 that there were other young men who had died of the same intoxication, and those deaths were classified as homicides, the department said. Kraft’s deadly trail took investigators to Oregon and Michigan, and numerous bodies were also found in Orange County.”

While these killings were going on, Kraft busied himself with yard sales at his Roswell Avenue residence. “He had stuff in the garage, lived off his sales,” said Bell. Kraft was helped by “guys who lived with him. He was a milquetoast, wore glasses and had a mundane personality. When I spoke with him, he was only interested in what I might want to buy.”

Asked where or how he got the goods he was selling, Bell opined, “It could’ve been from the people he killed, had them move in, take their furniture. He was not someone I wanted to play with. He was real proud of what he did. He lived in quietude. My brother’s wife talked to him. She said, ‘he’s a nothing, we’ve got a neighbor we should stay away from’.”

Asked if he ever encountered men who could have been one Kraft’s potential victims, Bell said, “he had people help him move furniture. He had stayovers. I don’t think he had any friends. He tended to dump his victims opposite of where he was living,” though investigators did find evidence that some murders occurred inside Kraft’s residence.

Bell’s father owned apartments near the beach where pensioners and “alternative lifestyle” men lived. One of the tenants, “a guy who had lots of parties, moved to Miami, said it was too dangerous to live in Long Beach,” a likely reference to Kraft’s crime wave.

Living on Roswell Avenue when Kraft was arrested, Bell reflected “to think we could’ve been a victim.”

According to the Times, “Kraft was convicted of 16 murders in 1989, though he is suspected in dozens more. Eight of the men he killed had diazepam – commonly known as Valium – in their system, like Schlicht, prosecutors said.”

The wife of Bell’s brother, Ronnie, had more contact with Kraft, who made her uneasy.

“When they sold the house,” after Kraft’s arrest, said Bell, “the house was broken into after the sale.”

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