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Update: Long Beach 1976 Murder Victim Identified as Marine

Now detectives are seeking public's help to find who killed him.

Updated 12:40 p.m. Tuesday with police response to whether Long Beach resident and convicted serial killer Randy Kraft might be a suspect.

A man whose nude body was found on Nov. 10, 1974, in a large condominium complex in Long Beach was identified as a Marine from Des Moines, Iowa, police announced.

The body of Oral Stuart Jr. was found in the carport area of the complex near Spring Street and the San Gabriel (605) Freeway, but the L.A. County Coroner's office was unable to identify the man, or determine what caused his death. He was eventually described as John Doe 155.

But a grant from the National Institute of Justice enabled Long Beach Police Department detectives to reopen the case. The department issued a press release that did not say when that occurred. The following is based on that press release, with Long Beach police department the sole source.

Suspecting the victim might've been in the military because of his physical description at the time, the Long Beach detectives contacted the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service Cold Case Unit at Camp Pendleton.

NCIS identified a U.S. Marine listed as a deserter on Nov. 22, 1974, just 12 days after the discovery of John Doe 155. The history indicated the Marine had specific tattoos on his arms, which matched tattoos observed on John Doe 155 during his autopsy.

The NCIS identified the Marine as Stuart. Family members confirmed photographs of John Doe did indeed depict Stuart. Cold case detectives suspected that Stuart's death involved foul play and the coroner's office reclassified the death as a homicide.

Detectives are still trying to get more answers in the case. They could not immediately be reached to ask about some similiarities with victims of Long Beach resident and notorious serial killer Randy Steven Kraft, who was arrested Mary 14, 1983, after a car stop found him with his fly down and a partially nude 25-year-old El Toro Marine, who turned out to be dead. He was charged with a 1975 murder of a 22-year-old, among 60 young men he was suspected of killing. He was sentenced to death and is remains on death row in California.

Said Long Beach Police Department spokeswoman Lisa Massacani:

"Detectives are aware of Randy Kraft, but do not have a named suspect for this murder, and are hoping the community has information that will point them to a possible suspect. Hopefully the photo will jog people's memory, and we encourage anyone who may remember anything, no matter how insignificant they feel it is, to call. Anything that would help detectives piece together the victim's last hours, like where he was and who he was with, is key."
 
Anyone with information on the case can call homicide detectives Bryan McMahon or Mike Dugan at (562) 570-7244 or submit anonymous tips via web and text at www.tripsoft.com.

City News Service contributed to this story.

Nancy Wride March 24, 2012 at 11:11 PM
I know that they have passed away, I'm just saying that it pains me to think they never knew what had happened.
UnityCares Joshua Tree March 25, 2012 at 05:25 PM
During your time of meditative healing and prayer today, take a moment and think of this young man, Oral Stuart, raise his soul to the heavens as he was taken from us 37 years ago, today we learn the truth. That he is the perfect creation that GOD intended. Raise your supernatural thoughts of love to his mother and father as they left us not knowing what came of their son. Let us all gather in spirit for a moment today and unite these spirits in our own hearts. Fill them with love and joy. And So it is…
cathy (stuart) dicus June 29, 2012 at 01:52 PM
to nancy and steve, I'm Oral's (Buddy's) older sister. Steve I agree w/you on the "Marine Down." and you are both correct in the pain. for 37 years I could not accept that he didn't want to be my brother any more. I've been all over the country, eating a lot in truckstops, etc. I cannot say how many times I've seen a man that should be about Buddy's age, white blonde hair and look closely to see if it might be him. We knew months before the press release that he had been identified and since then I'm no longer "looking at strangers." The pain of not knowing has eased., The years w/o my little brother will never change. I'm internally angry that someone (Randy Craft) took him 5 days after his 18th birthday. My one saving thought is that he is with our parents now and they no longer wonder. Thank you both for keeping all of us in your thoughts.
cathy (stuart) dicus June 30, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Our family would like to hear that side of the story too. Additionally, i only thanked you and steve for your comments, and should have included all who have posted, a little late, but . . . THANK YOU one and all. He was a pretty good kid.
cathy (stuart) dicus June 30, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Michael/Steve we believe he was either "Iowa" or "Marine Down," but agree that he was a Kraft victim.

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