SANTA ANA, Calif.—Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigators have managed to identify a man whose name was a mystery for 49 years and was thought to perhaps be a murder victim of serial killer Randy Kraft, authorities said Nov. 28.
The victim was identified as Michael Ray Schlicht of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Mr. Schlicht’s body was found Sept. 14, 1974, near a trail in Aliso Viejo, which was known then as unincorporated Laguna Hills. Two people off-roading on a fire road discovered the body, and investigators estimated he died about three to five days before then.
Investigators suspected he died from an accidental overdose of alcohol and diazepam. A public request for help to identify the victim failed as well as a check of fingerprint records.
The body was buried at El Toro Memorial Park in an unmarked grave.
Investigators suspect he may have been a victim of Mr. Kraft, who was convicted in May 1989 of 16 murders and sentenced to death, because his death matched the killer’s use of alcohol and tranquilizers on his victims.
Mr. Kraft, known as the Scorecard Killer, because he was arrested with a coded list believed to contain 67 victims, was also suspected of 10 other murders prosecutors in Orange County did not charge him with. Mr. Kraft remains in San Quentin State Prison.
In November 2022, Orange County investigators sent tissue samples from Mr. Schlicht to Othram Laboratories, a private forensic biotechnology company, so a DNA profile could be worked up. The sheriff’s cold case team received the profile in February and uploaded the information into a genealogy database to build his family tree.
In October, Mr. Schlicht’s grandparents appeared to be a match, so investigators contacted a granddaughter, who said she had not seen her brother since he was 17 in 1974. The investigators on the team went to Kansas City, Missouri to get a DNA sample from Mr. Schlicht’s mother, which confirmed the man’s identity.
Investigators are now working to determine who may have killed him. Anyone with information was asked to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS, which will accept anonymous tips.