Michael Ray Schlicht : “Decades-Old John Doe Homicide Victim in California Identified as Man from Iowa”

Death – Obituary – Accident and Crime News : Decades after a man was found dead in Orange County, California, investigators have finally identified him as Michael Ray Schlicht, a resident of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department made the announcement, revealing that the man’s body was discovered on September 14, 1974, by two people who were off-roading on a trail. At the time, investigators believed that he had died from alcohol and diazepam intoxication, and his death was initially considered accidental.

Despite extensive efforts, including submitting the man’s fingerprints to various authorities, no leads on his identity were found. Consequently, he was buried in an unmarked grave at El Toro Memorial Park. However, in 1980, investigators noticed a pattern of deaths in Southern California in 1978 that were classified as homicides due to alcohol and diazepam intoxication. These deaths raised suspicions that the man found in Orange County might be a victim of a serial killer.

In 1983, Randy Steven Kraft, known as the “Scorecard Killer,” was arrested for murder after being pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer. In his car, authorities discovered the lifeless body of Terry Lee Gambrel, along with beer bottles and an open prescription bottle of Lorazepam. Kraft was later convicted of 16 murders and sentenced to death, with an additional 10 suspected murders never formally charged. He is currently serving his sentence at San Quentin State Prison.

For years, investigators believed that the unidentified man found in Orange County was one of Kraft’s early victims. Last year, tissue samples from the John Doe were submitted to a private forensic biotechnology company to build a DNA profile. In November, tissue samples were finally matched with possible grandparents, and a DNA sample from a woman believed to be his mother confirmed his identity as Michael Ray Schlicht.

The sheriff’s office has notified Schlicht’s family, who are now in the process of installing a headstone to mark his final resting place. This breakthrough brings closure to a case that has remained unresolved for almost five decades. The diligent efforts of investigators and advancements in forensic technology have finally given a name to the man found dead in Orange County all those years ago.

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