SANTA ANA — County officials on Friday hailed the work of a diligent deputy coroner in identifying one of convicted serial killer Randy Kraft's anonymous victims, nearly 22 years after the murder.
Kraft was suspected of kidnaping, killing and sexually mutilating more than 60 young men, many of whom were drugged before they were attacked.
Deputy Coroner Kurt Murine, 35, using a new fingerprint database that links the Western United States and his own computerized system, identified Kevin Clark Bailey, who was found on "Airport Hill" in Huntington Beach, as a victim of Kraft's.
"I was a little stunned," said Clark R. Bailey, the victim's father, when Murine contacted him Thursday at his home in Vero Beach, Fla.
Bailey, who is retired, said in a telephone interview that he divorced Kevin's mother when the boy was 4 and never saw him after that. Bailey said he had no photos of Kevin or his brother, Bruce. Clark Bailey said he later remarried and has two grown children. He said he did not know the whereabouts of his ex-wife.
Kevin Bailey, who was 18 at the time of his death, was one of 16 young men Kraft was convicted of killing in 1989, a conviction that sent him to Death Row.
According to court records, Bailey, a native of Middletown, N.Y., had been living in Corvallis, Ore. Five days before his body was found in Huntington Beach on April 9, 1973, he had been arrested and fingerprinted in Oregon for loitering near a school ground.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Bryan Brown, who led the successful, six-year prosecution against Kraft, praised Murine's work.
More than 20 years after Bailey's slaying, Brown said, Murine "is still working his fingers to the bone so there can be some comfort and an end to suffering of victim's survivors. That's just incredibly great."
Murine's supervisor, Chief Deputy Coroner Jim Beisner, echoed the praise: "I think he did a great job. He spent a great deal of effort developing a system to see if we can do a better job identifying John and Jane Does. A lot of it was on his own time, at home on his own computer."
The system Murine developed involves typing fingerprints, photos and sketches, dental records and hair and eye color to create a profile of missing persons that can be transmitted throughout the country.
Bailey was to be the system's test case, Murine said in a telephone interview. In less than 48 hours, with the aid of the CAL-ID fingerprint system in Sacramento and cooperative police officials in Middletown, N.Y. (the birthplace noted on Bailey's Oregon fingerprint identification card), Murine was informing Clark Bailey of his son's fate.
"Things normally do not happen this rapidly," Murine said, crediting recent advances in technology. "Whatever it was--serendipity or the stars being aligned properly--everything went as well as it could."
There are still 48 unidentified bodies in the county since 1969, including one remaining Kraft victim. Realistically, Murine said, only half are likely to end like the Bailey case.
"It's terrifically satisfying to know that I have been able to at least answer some questions for the Bailey family," Murine said. "At least now they won't be wondering, 'Whatever became of Kevin?' It was very satisfying, from a personal and humanitarian and investigative standpoint."