Reporter’s Notebook : Kraft’s List: Forced-to-Fit Evidence or Death Diary?
As we prepare to say goodbye to finally, oh god, finally , join us as we take a look back on some of the funny, weird, creative, and downright impressive visuals set to music this year. Set to the toe-tapping tune, the would-be lovers are victims of circumstance and poor planning, as they continually miss each other on the way to and from a motel and its neighboring tavern.
Shots and femme fatales. Sleazy motels and Super 8. Cigarettes and switchblades.
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A few months after releasing that striking visual project, Gerlach and director Damien Blue returned in November with an even more impressive music video for another King Courteen song. Though both Gerlach and Blue are local, they went all the way to a southeastern Utah ghost town to capture the astonishing visuals they paired to the haunting and minimalist acoustic composition.
Leave it to tireless electronic star LUXI to do the latter. Both young men had been strangled. Kraft, now 43, is charged with 16 Orange County murders, but prosecutors have accused him of a total of 45 murders in three states. Many of the other murders are likely to be introduced into the trial if Kraft is convicted and his case reaches a penalty phase.
The Klingbeil and Keith deaths are the eighth and ninth of the 16 introduced by Deputy Dist. Bryan F. He is expected this week to complete the presentation of two others, those of Roland Gerald Young and Scott Michael Hughes. Klingbeil was wearing what prosecutors say were hiking boots at the time his body was found, and a matchbook from Long Beach was found in his pocket.
Nonetheless, Opal Kraft always found time for her children, whereas in contrast, Kraft's father seldom attended any social gatherings with them, and was later described as being "distanced" from his family. As a student, he was noted for his intelligence by classmates and teachers. By , Kraft was deemed intelligent enough to attend accelerated classes at 17th Street Junior High School. By adolescence , Kraft had taken a keen interest in politics, becoming a staunch Republican  with aspirations of becoming a U. At Westminster High, Kraft was again regarded as a pleasant, bright student who regularly achieved A grades.
Kraft later stated he had known from his high school days that he was homosexual, although he initially kept his sexual orientation a secret. On June 13, , he graduated tenth out of a class of pupils. Shortly after his enrollment at Claremont Men's College, Kraft enrolled in the Claremont Reserve Officers Training Corps  and regularly attended demonstrations in support of the Vietnam War and—in —for the election of Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.
Kraft later declared these actions were merely a mimic of his parents' political views and not his own, describing his second year at Claremont as being when he abandoned the "last gasp" of his conservative ideology. In , Kraft began working as a bartender at a local Garden Grove cocktail lounge that catered to gay clientele; he was also known to regularly travel to Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach to have casual sex with hustlers.
Supreme Court of California
In an apparent tentative effort to announce his sexuality to his parents, Kraft took a succession of male "friends" to meet his family in the years he was enrolled at Claremont, although he was also known to occasionally date girls. Initially, however, Kraft's parents and sisters were oblivious to his homosexuality. In , Kraft was arrested and charged with lewd conduct after propositioning an undercover policeman in Huntington Beach;  as he had no previous criminal record, no charges were filed.
The following year, he developed a radical shift in his political beliefs, becoming an ardent supporter of left-wing politics , and eventually registered as a Democrat in The same year he registered as a Democrat, Kraft became a party organizer, campaigning tirelessly for the election of Robert Kennedy and receiving a personal letter from the senator, thanking him for his efforts.
By his senior year, he had become a lackadaisical student, drinking, taking drugs, and regularly attending all-night gambling and poker sessions with other students. Kraft had to repeat his econometrics class, resulting in deferment of his graduation by eight months. Four months after his graduating from college, Kraft joined the U. Air Force. He was sent to basic training in Texas before being stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California, where he supervised the painting of test planes. The same year Kraft became an Airman First Class, he disclosed to his family that he was homosexual.
In a letter he wrote to a friend, Kraft described his father as having flown "into a rage ", whereas he described his mother as being more understanding, if somewhat disapproving. On July 26, , Kraft received a general discharge from the Air Force after announcing his sexuality to his superiors. The discharge was officially listed as being on "medical" grounds.
In response, Kraft sought legal advice from an attorney in an attempt to challenge the grounds regarding his discharge from the Air Force. The Air Force, however, refused to change the status of his discharge. Following his military discharge, Kraft moved back into his parents' home and worked as a bartender. In response, Kraft invited the youth to accompany him to his apartment on the promise that Fancher could live with him. Fancher agreed and accompanied Kraft to his Belmont Shore apartment, where he was drugged and assaulted. Hours later, Fancher escaped from Kraft's apartment after Kraft left the youth unattended to go to work.
A member of the public summoned an ambulance, having observed Fancher's drugged and disheveled condition; he required having his stomach pumped as a result of the drugs he had ingested. At the hospital, Fancher informed police Kraft had given him drugs and beaten him.
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However, as Fancher had confessed to police he had taken the pills offered to him voluntarily and the officers had conducted the search without a warrant , no charges were filed. In , Kraft found new employment as a forklift driver in Huntington Beach. In an effort to further his career prospects following his military discharge two years earlier, he enrolled at Long Beach State University , undertaking teaching courses.
There, Kraft became acquainted with Jeff Graves — a fellow teaching student from Minnesota four years younger than Kraft, and with whom he began a relationship. Between and , Kraft is believed to have killed a total of 67 victims. All of his suspected victims were males between the ages of 13 and 35,   the majority of whom were in their late teens to mid-twenties. Kraft was charged with—and convicted of—sixteen of these homicides, all of which had occurred between and Many of his victims had been enlisted in the United States Marines Corps ,  and most of his victims' bodies bore evidence of high levels of both alcohol and tranquilizers in their blood systems, indicating they had been rendered insensate before they had been abused and killed.
Kraft's victims were typically lured into his vehicle with an offer of a lift or alcohol. They were then bound, tortured , and sexually abused before they were usually killed by either strangulation , asphyxiation , or bludgeoning, although some victims had also ingested fatal doses of pharmaceuticals and at least one victim was stabbed to death. Photographic evidence found at Kraft's home indicates several of his victims were driven to his house before their murder.
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Many of the victims were burned with a car cigarette lighter, usually around the genitals, chest, and face, and several were found with extensive blunt force trauma to the face and head. The majority of Kraft's murders were committed in California, although some victims had been killed in Oregon , with two further known victims murdered in Michigan in December Dukette, a bartender at a gay bar named "The Stable" in nearby Sunset Beach, had last been seen alive on September 20, Putrefaction had erased any signs of foul play upon the body, and the cause of death was listed as acute alcohol poisoning due to a high blood alcohol level.
Moore was seen alive leaving the barracks at Camp Pendleton on December 24 , His body was found beside the Freeway in Seal Beach during the early hours of December Abrasions on Moore's body indicated he had been discarded from a moving vehicle. An autopsy revealed he had been bound about the wrists and ankles, then beaten with a blunt instrument about the face before being garrotted.
His body also bore evidence of numerous bite marks , and a sock had been forced into his rectum. Six weeks after the murder of Moore, the body of an unidentified male , estimated to be around 17 to 25 years old,  was found alongside the Terminal Island Freeway in Los Angeles.
This victim had been strangled by a ligature and had also had a sock placed in his rectum. By July 28, a further two victims had been murdered: an unidentified youth whose dismembered body was found on April 22 and a year-old named Ronnie Gene Wiebe, whose strangled body was discarded beside an onramp to the Freeway on July 30 — two days after he had disappeared.
PEOPLE v. KRAFT
Welt marks on Wiebe's wrists and ankles suggested he had been bound and suspended from a device before his murder. Kraft is only known to have killed once more in The victim was a year-old bisexual art student named Vincent Cruz Mestas, whose body was found in the San Bernardino Mountains on December By November , a further five victims had been found beside or close to mass transportation in southern California; three of which had been conclusively linked to the same killer.
Two of these victims—year-old Malcolm Eugene Little and year-old James Dale Reeves—had each been found beside a freeway with foreign objects inserted into their bodies, whereas the body of the third victim, year-old Marine Roger Edward Dickerson, bore evidence of bite marks much like several earlier victims. On January 3, , Kraft abducted and murdered a year-old high school student named John Leras. Drag marks along the beach close to where his body had been discarded indicated two individuals had carried Leras's body into the water.
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By January , a total of 14 victims, whose bodies had been found discarded across four separate counties within the previous three years, had been linked to the same killer. All the victims had been Caucasian males with similar physical characteristics. On January 24, homicide investigators from several jurisdictions in southern California convened in Orange County to discuss progress in the hunt for the unknown killer. The placing of socks inside the victims' rectums was also theorized to be a method used by the killer to prevent purging as the body was driven to the disposal location. May later recalled feeling catatonic as a result of the Valium and alcohol he had ingested before he passed out.
In the parking lot where Crotwell and May had last been seen, two friends of the youths observed a distinctive black and white Mustang rapidly enter and draw to a halt before the driver leaned across, opened the passenger door, and pushed the unconscious but otherwise unharmed May from the rear seat onto the pavement. The driver then sped away from the scene. As he did so, the friends noted Crotwell slumped against the unknown driver's shoulder. On May 8, Crotwell's skull was found in a jetty close to the Long Beach Marina; the remainder of his body was found six months later.
Upon locating the vehicle less than one mile 1. The registration of the vehicle was traced to Kraft. Long Beach police questioned Kraft about Crotwell's abduction and murder on May 19, Initially, he denied having ever met either Crotwell or May and the police, initially skeptical of Kraft's denial, summoned him to the police station for further questioning. He claimed to have returned May to the parking lot and then to have driven with Crotwell to a side road close to the El Toro offramp , where his car subsequently became embedded upon an embankment.
He claimed to have walked alone to a gas station to call a tow truck while Crotwell remained with his vehicle. Upon returning to his vehicle, Kraft claimed, Crotwell had disappeared. Although Kraft's roommate was able to verify to detectives that Kraft had phoned him on the date of Crotwell's disappearance, claiming his vehicle was stuck upon an embankment, detectives remained unconvinced with Kraft's overall version of events. The following week, two detectives attempted to file homicide charges against Kraft. However, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office dismissed the detectives' request, citing the coroner's conclusion from his autopsy of the remains thus far found solely the youth's skull that the youth had died of accidental drowning.
Perhaps because Kraft had been questioned as a suspect in Crotwell's murder and because of additional turmoil in his personal life in the summer of , Kraft is not known to have killed again until December 31, when he abducted year-old Mark Hall in San Juan Capistrano. The autopsy report listed the cause of death as being asphyxiation caused by leaves and earth found lodged deep into Hall's trachea. The autopsy also revealed Hall had been sodomized and emasculated, with his severed genitals then inserted into his rectum. Additionally, his chest, scrotum , nose and cheeks had been burned with an automobile cigarette lighter, with his eyes being destroyed by the same object.
Other injuries noted in the autopsy included numerous incisions on Hall's legs which had been inflicted with a broken bottle.
By , Kraft had ended his relationship with Graves. Shortly thereafter, he began a relationship with a year-old apprentice baker named Jeff Seelig, and the couple moved to Laguna Hills. Although neither man was inclined towards monogamy , the couple considered their relationship permanent. However, Seelig was adamant that Kraft had never been violent towards him and that he had never seen him display violent tendencies.
Kraft's relationship with Seelig is believed to be a contributory factor in the sudden lull in murders he is known to have committed. The body of the victim, year-old Paul Joseph Fuchs, has never been found. Nonetheless, Fuchs' name is clearly listed upon Kraft's scorecard.
Following the December murder of Fuchs, Kraft is not known to have killed any further victims for sixteen months.