Decades-Long Mystery Solved: 1974 Murder Victim in Southern California Identified as Michael Ray Schlicht

Dec 07, 2023, 11:00 AM

After nearly half a century of uncertainty, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has revealed a breakthrough in the case of a murdered teenager found in Southern California in 1974. Through the use of investigative genetic genealogy, authorities have identified the victim as Michael Ray Schlicht, bringing renewed attention to a case that may link him to notorious serial killer Randy Kraft.
 On September 14, 1974, the lifeless body of a young man was discovered, and at the time, his cause of death was tragically attributed to accidental alcohol and diazepam intoxication. However, this tragic story took a darker turn in 1980 when investigators noted multiple homicides in 1978 with similar intoxication causes of death. These victims were found within close proximity to Schlicht's location, yet he remained unidentified, known only as "John Doe."
 Randy Kraft, infamously labeled "The Scorecard Killer," was arrested during a routine traffic stop in 1983, where police found a deceased man in the passenger seat amid beer bottles and lorazepam tablets. Kraft would later be convicted in 1989 of 16 murders in Southern California, and authorities suspect his involvement in up to 60 deaths between 1972 and 1983. The gruesome details of his crimes, which included torture, sexual assault, and mutilation, earned him his chilling moniker.
 Despite his conviction, Kraft has remained on death row at San Quentin State Prison. However, the discovery of tissue samples from Schlicht's unidentified remains brought renewed hope for answers. These samples were submitted to a laboratory to construct a DNA profile. After months of diligent genealogy work, investigators successfully traced the lineage to Schlicht's grandparents.
 Authorities then reached out to a granddaughter of the grandparents, who disclosed that she had last seen her brother, Michael Ray Schlicht, in April 1974 when he was just 17 years old. To confirm this revelation, investigators journeyed to Kansas City to obtain a DNA sample from Schlicht's mother, which ultimately led to the positive identification of the once enigmatic "John Doe."
 The Orange County Sheriff's Department has reclassified Schlicht's death as a homicide, reopening a case that had long remained unsolved. The investigation is ongoing as authorities delve into the circumstances surrounding Schlicht's murder and his potential connection to Randy Kraft's reign of terror.
 This discovery not only brings closure to Schlicht's family after decades of uncertainty but also raises questions about other unsolved cases from that era that may be linked to Kraft. As investigators continue their work, they remain committed to seeking justice for the victims and their families.
 The identification of Michael Ray Schlicht is a testament to the power of modern forensic techniques and the dedication of law enforcement in pursuing justice, even after many years have passed.
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