Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why so Long? Body of Marine Identified 37 Years Later

Long Beach, California

Official U.S. Marine Photo
The nude body of a young man was found near an apartment complex on November 10, 1974. Over 37 years later, that body was finally identified as Oral Alfred Stuart, Jr., a U.S. Marine that was believed to be AWOL from Camp Pendelton which was over one hour and forty-five minutes away.

Stuart's body was left in public view and appeared to have been dumped at the location. In a murder investigation, the location where the body was found becomes the primary crime scene, even though you know they were murdered somewhere else. The body is the best chance of finding evidence. Think Locard's Exchange Principle - the theory of transfer between objects. The manner of death in this case has been reclassified to Homicide and the Long Beach Police are seeking the public's help in solving the case.

This missing persons case is one that law enforcement can certainly learn from. Law enforcement agencies should have a detective assigned to / or work closely with the coroner / medical examiner and act as a liaison in found dead body cases. The liaison would take fingerprints, ensure that a DNA sample was secured and photograph the body, especially scars and tattoos that may aid in the identification. These important steps can help reduce the time from discovery to identification.

In 1974, the police where unaware of the uses of DNA, however, fingerprints may have helped identify the body sooner. Identifying people quickly can help in the investigation of foul play, since most people are murdered by someone they know. The longer the case is cold, the less likelihood that it will be solved. In addition, according to the news, the victim had a Marine Corp tattoo. That may have been used on a request for information poster that could have been used for ID purposes as well as the obvious trip to the Marines and match the description with any AWOL Marines. In the end, that what was how investigators identified the body.

According to the victim's brother, he believes that young Marine fell victim to a known serial killer named Randy Kraft. Kraft was suspected in over sixty murders of you men, many of them members of the military. Kraft was put to death in 1989 after stopped for a traffic infraction with a dead body in his vehicle. Read more on Kraft.

Today, law enforcement has another tool that may help solve unidentified body cases quicker. That tool is NamUS - The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. This system is designed so that non-law enforcement, coroners, medical examiners, private investigators and civilians can enter information into the website that can be used to cross reference cases to bodies.

Read the article on using NamUS to Solve Missing Persons cases 

Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact the Long Beach California Police Department at 562-570-7244 or anonymously via the web at

Read the news article here

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