California was just swarming with serial killers in the 70’s and early 80’s. The whole country was, but it’s safe to say that Cali had more than their fair share. There was Ed Kemper, the toolbox killers Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris, they had Rodney Alcala, Joseph DeAngelo AKA the Original Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, and the list goes on. Cali also had an issue with victims being dumped on the side of the road like garbage, nearly 100 would be found. Males were being targeted; some were found nude, often they’d been drugged, sometimes mutilated.
Investigators knew they were searching for more than one serial killer as the modus operandi varied so greatly from body to body. Eventually these Highway Killers would be caught; one was William Bonin and his accomplices, another was Randy Kraft.
Randy is known as the “Scorecard Killer” because he obsessively kept detailed but coded notes about his victims and what he’d done to them.
Randy did not have the terrible upbringing we see with so many killers. There is no reason to believe he was physically abused, there’s no serious emotional trauma; it is noted that he was a klutz who suffered a brain injury from a childhood accident. Many believe this TBI is what messed him up, allowed him to kill without remorse or empathy – and he’d very much enjoyed torturing his victims.
Randy was a homosexual who, like many, had targeted those he was attracted to. It was the 70’s in California, hitchhiking was very common, and that’s how Randy picked up many of his victims. This killer was smart, witty, personable, and eager to please; he’d offered the men a free ride, drugs, and/or alcohol. Once these men were intoxicated enough, he would attack. He’d tie his victim up, sexually assault and mutilate him; some were discovered with the most sensitive areas of flesh burnt off by a car cigarette lighter, eyelids cut or burnt off, genitals bitten, sometimes a testicle would be completely removed, things were inserted into their urethras, objects like twigs or socks left inside the man’s anal cavity. One victim was found with his genitals severed and shoved up inside his rear end.
Finally Randy would kill his victim; most had died by strangulation or asphyxiation, but he had not been against bludgeoning or stabbing a man to death. When his victim was dead, he’d drag the corpse to his vehicle, and drive until he found a good dumping spot.
Randy was finally caught on May 14th of 1983. He’d been driving down the road in Mission Viejo, California, when the fuzz noticed his swerving Toyota Celica; Randy was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Once the vehicle was stopped, he hadn’t waited for the officers to walk to his window, he’d promptly exited the car to meet them. Randy had not wanted the officers to meet his friend in the passenger seat. They noticed him fairly quickly anyways; 25 year old Terry Lee Gambriel, a marine, had been sitting there with his pants unbuttoned and pushed down a bit, his body sorta slumped over in the seat. Officers originally thought that the man was just really drunk, then they noticed that not only was Terry impossible to wake up, but there were strangulation marks on his throat.
While the two officers were just coming to grips with what they’d discovered on this random traffic stop, Randy played dumb by asking them again and again if his friend was okay.
Our serial killer was busted, and his vehicle searched; this is when police found the notebook Randy had kept about his victims. These notes were in code consisting of seemingly random words, letters, and numbers; it appeared to list more than 60 victims. Investigators were able to decipher some of what was written and link it to victims. Police also found more than 40 photographs of young men under the passenger seat floor mat, many of the men in these Polaroids appeared to be deceased. Randy tried to tell police these men were only inebriated, but it was obvious that was not the truth. On top of all that, the Celica’s passenger seat was soaked in blood, but victim Terry wasn’t bleeding.
The Scorecard Killer was charged with 16 murders; in April of 1989 he was found guilty and sentenced to death. Since he’s in California, Randy is still alive and well in San Quentin.
Though he was only convicted of 16, it’s believed that Randy took nearly 70 lives between September of 1972 and May of 1983. There are still a few questions, mainly whether Randy had an accomplice or not. He was very attracted to United States Marines, that was his type: the short haircut, the muscles, the attitude, so that’s who he targeted. How this one man could overpower the strongest and most physically fit of younger men, sometimes even carrying or dragging their bodies for long distances all by himself is still in question. To date an accomplice has never been named, though Randy isn’t the type to turn on an accomplice if there was one. He has never once showed even an ounce of remorse or empathy. Matter of fact, all these years later he still maintains his innocence; Randy still claims that he was targeted by the law because he is a gay man who had refused to stay in his closet.
*William Bonin, who was mentioned at the top of this post, was active and dumping young men on the California Freeways between 1979-1980. He and his accomplices raped and tortured at least 21 (that’s the number he confessed to) but it’s estimated that his true body count is much closer to 40. A total of 13 men have been executed in California since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1978; in 1996, William Bonin became lucky number 3.