Iowa Teen Murdered in 1974 Identified 49 Years Later. Could He Be the Victim of a Convicted Serial Killer?

Michael Ray Schlicht is a possible victim of "The Scorecard Killer" Randy Kraft

<p>Orange County Sheriff

Orange County Sheriff's Department; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Getty Images

Michael Ray Schlicht, left, and Randy Kraft

The body of a murdered teen found in Southern California in 1974 has finally been identified, nearly 50 years later. And now, police believe he is a possible victim of notorious convicted serial killer Randy Kraft.

Using investigative genetic genealogy, authorities were able to identify the body as Michael Ray Schlicht, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa — nearly 50 years after his remains were found, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced.

Schlicht’s body was found on Sept. 14, 1974, and his cause of death was originally ruled as accidental alcohol and diazepam intoxication, the sheriff’s department said. But in 1980, investigators noted that multiple deaths in 1978 due to similar intoxication were ruled homicides and the victims were found within miles of Schlicht’s body, who was still considered a John Doe at that point.

Kraft was arrested at a traffic stop in 1983 after police found a dead man in the passenger seat with beer bottles and lorazepam tablets scattered around his feet. Kraft would ultimately be convicted in 1989 of 16 murders in Southern California, though authorities believe he could have killed upwards of 60 men from 1972 to 1983, the sheriff’s department said.

Kraft kept notes about his victims, who were sometimes tortured, sexually assaulted and mutilated, which led to his nickname, “The Scorecard Killer.” He was sentenced to death in 1989, but remains on death row at San Quentin State Prison.

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Investigators submitted tissue samples from Schlicht’s unidentified remains to a lab in order to build a DNA profile. Then after months of genealogy work, investigators were able to identify grandparents of the John Doe, according to the sheriff’s department.

Authorities contacted a granddaughter of the grandparents, who told them she hadn’t seen her brother, Schlicht since April 1974, when he was 17 years old, police said. Investigators then traveled to Kansas City to obtain a DNA sample from Schlicht's mother, which was used to identify the former John Doe.

Schlicht's death is still under investigation, and is being treated as a homicide, the sheriff’s department said.

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