SANTA ANA, Ca. — Authorities have identified a body found on a trail nearly 50 years ago in Orange County, California, as a man from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, investigators say.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said that on Sept. 14, 1974, two people were off-roading when they found a man dead on the side of a trail. Investigators believed the man had died about three to five days before he was found. His death was originally believed to be accidental from alcohol and diazepam intoxication.
The man’s fingerprints were submitted to the Criminal Identification and Investigation Division in Sacramento, the FBI and Canadian authorities with negative results, the Orange County Register reported. Weeks later with no lead on his identity, he was interred at El Toro Memorial Park in an unmarked grave.
In 1980, investigators began to see that there were other deaths in 1978 due to alcohol and diazepam intoxication in the Southern California area. According to the Register, these deaths were classified as homicides.
Over the years, men who had died the same way were found dead within miles of where John Doe was found, the sheriff’s office said.
In 1983, Randy Steven Kraft who later became known as the “Scorecard Killer” was arrested for murder. According to the sheriff’s office, he was arrested by a California Highway Patrol officer during a traffic stop. In his front seat was a dead man who was later identified as Terry Lee Gambrel. There were beer bottles and an open prescription bottle of Lorazepam in his car.
In 1987, Kraft was convicted of 16 murders and was given the death sentence, the sheriff’s office reported. Another 10 murders that Kraft was suspected of committing were never filed. Kraft is still incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.
The sheriff’s office said that it was believed for some time that John Doe was one of Kraft’s early victims.
Investigators in November of last year, submitted tissue samples for John Doe to a private forensic biotechnology company, KCRG reported. The hope was to be able to build a DNA profile for him.
Last month, investigators were finally able to identify the possible grandparents of John Doe. According to the news outlet, investigators obtained a DNA sample from a woman that was believed to be his mother. From that DNA sample, investigators were able to identify John Doe as Michael Ray Schlicht.
“Family members have been notified and are in the process of having a headstone installed to mark his final resting place,” the sheriff’s office said.