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Soap opera pen-pal network may have led murder suspect to L.A.

The Times' Joseph Serna reported details this week about the Hollywood strangling death of a retired teacher.

Harry Major, 82, who taught at Hollywood High School, and the man accused of killing him were pen pals. The suspect apparently had a network of pen pals that grew out of a "General Hospital" fan club.

Three months after he was released from prison after serving 20 years for murder, Scott Kratlian showed up in Hollywood and allegedly strangled one of his pen pals, 82-year-old Harry Major. ...

"I don't know why I started writing him; it was a really dumb decision," said [Jason] Ward, who connected with Kratlian through a mutual friend who received a "General Hospital" newsletter that went out to fans.

"I only wrote to him a handful of times because he got really weird," Ward said.

Authorities said Kratlian was released from prison two days before Thanksgiving, less than a year after a state parole board determined that his crime had been so horrific that releasing him would be to "undermine respect for the law."

In 1992 Kratlian used a belt to kill a man, tying the victim's hands and feet together and beating and burning him, parole board records show.

In prison, Kratlian had a "horrendous" disciplinary record, and his conditional early release was delayed more than four years because of infractions, according to the records. He was eventually released under the state's conditional release program — a separate avenue that doesn't require parole board approval.

A free man after two decades behind bars, Kratlian was in Los Angeles by Feb. 1, authorities say.

After months and possibly years of exchanging letters, detectives say, Kratlian went to Major's Hollywood apartment Feb. 10 and strangled him.

Serna has more details: Soap opera pen-pal network may have led murder suspect to L.A.

— From Times reports

Photo: Harry Major in an undated photo.

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