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Grim Sleeper
Killings
Number of victims: 11 killed, one survivor
Span of killings: 1985 (first known victim)–2007 (latest confirmed victim)
Country:  United States
State(s): California
Date apprehended: Unapprehended

Grim Sleeper is the nickname[1][2] for an unidentified serial killer in Los Angeles, California. The Grim Sleeper is believed to be responsible for at least 13 murders and one attempted murder in Los Angeles since 1985. The sole survivor described him as a "thin, neat, polite and well-groomed African-American guy."[3] He owned "an orange Ford Pinto with a white racing stripe on the hood." "[I]t looked like a Hot Wheels [toy] car," the survivor recalled.[3]

Contents

Investigation

In May 2007, the murder of Janecia Peters, 25, was linked through DNA analysis to 11, possibly 12, unsolved murders in Los Angeles, the first of which occurred in 1985. The "800 Task Force" was then formed, consisting of seven detectives. As a result of a four-month investigation by the LA Weekly, investigative reporter Christine Pelisek broke the news of the secret 800 Task Force, the linking of Peters' killing to a string of murders going back 23 years, and the fact that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William Bratton had been silent on the killer's existence. The mayor and chief never issued a press release nor warned the South Los Angeles community of the killer's continuing activities. In some cases, the alternative newspaper was the first to inform the families that their daughters had long been confirmed as victims of a serial killer.[4]

In late August 2008, the same week the Weekly broke the story of Grim Sleeper's body count of 13 victims, an aide to Police Chief William Bratton said he was too busy to comment on the case.[5]

In early September 2008, officials in Los Angeles announced that they are offering a $500,000 reward to help catch the killer, who has murdered at least 10 women and one man in two sprees over the past 20 years.[2]

On November 1, 2008, a story about the "Grim Sleeper" appeared on the television program America's Most Wanted. AMW stated that the killer was most likely a black male but did not want to rule out anyone.[6]

On February 25, 2009, for the first time, Chief Bratton held a press conference regarding the case at which police formally gave the killer the "Grim Sleeper" nickname chosen by L.A. Weekly. Bratton then released a call from the 1980s made to a 911 operator in which a man reports having seen a body, which later turned out to be a victim of the Grim Sleeper, getting dumped by the killer, with a detailed description and license plate number of a van connected with the now-closed Cosmopolitan Church.[7]

The survivor

LA Weekly had an extensive interview with the survivor, providing several details. She described him as "a black man in his early 30s [...] He looked neat. Tidy. Kind of geeky. He wore a black polo shirt tucked into khaki trousers." He offered her a ride. After she refused, "He told me, ‘That is what is wrong with you black women. You think you are all that.'" He was persistent. After some banter back and forth, she got into his car.

She "was impressed by the car’s interior. The gear-shift handle was memorable, pimped out with a ping-pong-sized marble ball. The inside was all-white, with white diamond-patterned upholstery." When she mentioned a party, he deftly invited himself and she said he was welcome to come. He then said that he needed to stop briefly at his uncle's house.

They wound through residential roads in his sporty car, ending up on a street whose name she did not take note of. The polite stranger parked outside a mustard-colored house partly obscured by hedges, got out, walked up to the house, briefly talked to someone inside, and returned about 10 minutes later.

The killer apparently documented his attacks with a Polaroid camera.

She blacked out, but was startled awake by the bright flash of a Polaroid camera. The creep had taken her picture and sexually assaulted her. She remembers grabbing at him, and the two struggled. She pleaded to be taken to a hospital. He refused. Despite her half-conscious condition, she’s almost certain he told her he couldn’t take her to a hospital because he didn’t want to get caught.

Victims

These are the names of the "Grim Sleeper's" victims in order of attack:

  1. Debra Jackson [8]
  2. Henrietta Wright, found dead on August 12, 1986.
  3. Thomas Steele
  4. Barbara Ware
  5. Bernita Sparks
  6. Mary Lowe
  7. Lachrica Jefferson
  8. Alicia Monique Alexander
  9. Unidentified female
  10. Princess Berthomieux
  11. Valerie McCorvey
  12. Janecia Peters

References

External links

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Grim Sleeper
Background information
Birth name: Lonnie David Franklin, Jr.
Killings
Number of victims: 10 killed, one survivor
Span of killings: 1985 (first known victim)–2007 (latest confirmed victim)
Country:  United States
State(s): California
Date apprehended: July 2010 [1]

Grim Sleeper is the nickname[2][3] for a serial killer in Los Angeles, California believed to be responsible for at least 11 murders and one attempted murder in Los Angeles since 1985. The attacker was dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" because he took a 14-year hiatus from his crimes, from 1988 to 2002. [4]

On July 7, 2010, a suspect, Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 57, was arrested. Los Angeles County District Attorney, Steve Cooley, charged him with ten counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and special circumstance allegations of multiple murders in the case.[5][6]

Contents

Investigation

In the mid-1980s, the first string of murders occurred in South Los Angeles, California. After Los Angeles police discovered several dead women in alleyways and dumpsters, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and police began investigating the murders. They set up the "Southside Slayer" task force. At that time, the police thought that the murders were by one person called the "Southside Slayer". Eventually, the LAPD and the Sheriff's detectives realized that many men were murdering women in the 1980's, 1990's, and 2000's. During that time period, several serial killers were committing murders in Los Angeles and it was a difficult task for the detectives to figure out which murders were linked. [7]

In May 2007, the murder of Janecia Peters, 25, was linked through DNA analysis to 11, possibly 12, unsolved murders in Los Angeles, the first of which occurred in 1985. The "800 Task Force" was then formed, consisting of seven detectives. After a four-month investigation, the LA Weekly investigative reporter Christine Pelisek broke the news of the secret 800 Task Force, the linking of Peters' killing to a string of murders going back 23 years, and the fact that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William Bratton had been silent on the killer's existence. The mayor and chief never issued a press release nor warned the South Los Angeles community of the killer's continuing activities. In some cases, the alternative newspaper was the first to inform the families that their daughters had long been confirmed as victims of a serial killer.[2]

In August 2008, the LA Weekly had an extensive interview with the sole survivor of the Grim Sleeper's attacks, providing several details.[8][9] She described him as "a black man in his early 30s [...] He looked neat. Tidy. Kind of geeky. He wore a black polo shirt tucked into khaki trousers." She also described him as a "thin, neat, polite and well-groomed African-American guy."[10] He owned "an orange Ford Pinto with a white racing stripe on the hood." "[I]t looked like a Hot Wheels [toy] car," the survivor recalled.[10] He offered her a ride. After she refused, "He told me, ‘That is what is wrong with you black women. You think you are all that.'" He was persistent. After some banter back and forth, she got into his car.[9] She "was impressed by the car’s interior. The gear-shift handle was memorable, pimped out with a ping-pong-sized marble ball. The inside was all-white, with white diamond-patterned upholstery." When she mentioned a party, he deftly invited himself and she said he was welcome to come. He then said that he needed to stop briefly at his uncle's house:[9] "They wound through residential roads in his sporty car, ending up on a street whose name she did not take note of. The polite stranger parked outside a mustard-colored house partly obscured by hedges, got out, walked up to the house, briefly talked to someone inside, and returned about 10 minutes later." They began arguing, when "He suddenly pulled a small handgun out of a pocket on the driver’s side of the Pinto, and shot her in the chest as he drove along the residential streets." The killer apparently documented his attacks with a Polaroid camera: "She blacked out, but was startled awake by the bright flash of the camera. The black man had taken her picture and sexually assaulted her. She remembers grabbing at him, and the two struggled. She pleaded to be taken to a hospital. He refused. Despite her half-conscious condition, she’s almost certain he told her he couldn’t take her to a hospital because he didn’t want to get caught."[2]

In late August 2008, the same week the Weekly broke the sole survivor's story with information on the Grim Sleeper's body count of 13 victims, an aide to Police Chief William Bratton said he was too busy to comment on the case.[2]

In early September 2008, officials in Los Angeles announced that they were offering a $500,000 reward to help catch the killer, who has murdered at least 10 women and one man in two sprees over the past 20 years.[3]

On November 1, 2008, a story about the "Grim Sleeper" appeared on the television program America's Most Wanted. AMW stated that the killer was most likely a black male but did not want to rule out anyone.[11]

On February 25, 2009, for the first time, Chief Bratton held a press conference regarding the case at which police formally gave the killer the "Grim Sleeper" nickname chosen by L.A. Weekly. Bratton then released a call from the 1980s made to a 911 operator in which a man reports having seen a body, which later turned out to be a victim of the Grim Sleeper, getting dumped by the killer, with a detailed description and license plate number of a van connected with the now-closed Cosmopolitan Church.[12]

Arrest

On July 7, 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that an arrest had been made. District Attorney Steve Cooley identified the suspect as 57-year-old Lonnie David Franklin Jr.[4] The arrest of Franklin reportedly was due, at least in part, to the use of familial DNA analysis.[1] Police had been unable to find an exact match between DNA found at the crime scenes associated with the Grim Sleeper and any of the profiles in California's DNA profile database. Thus, police searched the database to try to find stored profiles that demonstrated sufficient similarity to the profile from the crime-scene evidence to allow police to infer a familial relationship between the person who left the DNA at the crime scenes and the similar profile stored in the database.

Police eventually located similar DNA belonging to Franklin's son, Christopher, who had been convicted of a felony weapons charge. According to Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, detectives then used a piece of discarded pizza with Franklin's DNA to make the link. One Los Angeles undercover police officer pretended to be a waiter at a restaurant where the suspect ate. He collected dishes, silverware, glasses, and pizza crusts to obtain DNA.[13] The identification was used to arrest Franklin after his DNA was obtained and deemed a match.[6]All of the slayings match Franklin's DNA from saliva found on each victim, usually taken from the breasts.[14]

Law enforcement missed an opportunity to catch Franklin because his DNA was never collected. In 2003, he was convicted of a felony and was serving three years of supervised probation. When he was on probation, his DNA was supposed to enter the DNA database. In 2004, voters approved of Proposition 69. The law states that DNA must be collected for all people charged with a crime. It also requires the expansion of the DNA database. Authorities collected and sorted through thousands of DNA samples. On July 2005, Franklin was on unsupervised probation. During that time, Franklin's DNA never entered into the system. Probation officers did not collect DNA samples from people that are on unsupervised probation between the periods of November 2004 and August 2005. During that period, the probation department also did not have the resources to immediately collect samples. Officers did not collect samples until August 2005.[15]

Franklin has a criminal record dating back to 1989. He was convicted of two charges of stolen property, one charge of misdemeanor assault, and one charge of battery. He served time for one of the charges of stolen property.[14] He is charged with 10 homicides and 1 attempted murder. He is held without bail and could face the death penalty if convicted. [16] He is not charged in the death of an 11th suspected victim, an African American man. There is no DNA evidence in that case. [13]

Victims

The killings began in 1985 in South Los Angeles, California. The Grim Sleeper took a 14 year hiatus after his last murder in 1988 but began murdering people again in 2002. His last murder was in January 2007.[14] All of his victims were found outdoors, a few miles from downtown Los Angeles.[17]

All of his victims were African-American females. One of his suspected victim was an African American man.[16] Many of his victims were prostitutes. [18] One witness recalls that Franklin would frequently bring prostitutes into his home. The Grim Sleeper would have sexual contact with victims before strangling or shooting them. He would shoot all of his victims with a .25 caliber gun.[14] Franklin took several photographs of nude prostitutes and kept them in his garage.[19] It is believed that the Grim Sleeper killed one of his suspected victims, Thomas Steele, because Steele knew about his history of murders. Another possibility is that Steele was friends with one of the Grim Sleeper's victims.[17]

These are the Grim Sleeper's victims in chronological order of attack:[20]

Number Name Sex Age Found Dead
1 Debra Jackson F 29 10 August 1985
2 Henrietta Wright F 34 12 August 1986
3 Thomas Steele ‡‡ M 36 14 August 1986
4 Barbara Ware F 23 10 January 1987
5 Bernita Sparks F 26 15 April 1987
6 Mary Lowe F 26 1 November 1987
7 Lachrica Jefferson F 22 30 January 1988
8 Alice Monique Alexander F 18 11 September 1988
9 Enietra "Margette" ‡ F 30 Survived ‡
10 Princess Berthomieux F 15 19 March 2002
11 Valeria McCorvey F 35 11 July 2003
12 Janecia Peters F 25 1 January 2007

‡ Enietra "Margette" was told to use her middle name as her last name for her protection, but has now come forward as Enietra Margette Washington. Attacked on 20 November 1988, she is the only known survivor.[2] After her escape, there were no other known attacks for almost a decade and a half.
‡‡ One of the Grim Sleeper's suspected victims. There is no DNA evidence to prove that he was one of the Grim Sleeper's victims.[13]

References

  1. ^ a b July 7, 2010  (2010-07-07). "LAPD make arrest in Grim Sleeper serial killings". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/07/lapd-make-arrest-in-grim-sleeper-serial-killings.html. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Christine Pelisek, Grim Sleeper Returns: He's Murdering Angelenos, as Cops Hunt his DNA, LA Weekly, August 28, 2008
  3. ^ a b Grim Sleeper Serial Killer Hunted , SkyNews Report
  4. ^ a b "Arrest in 'Grim Sleeper' killings of 10 women, man". MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38133825/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  5. ^ The Associated Press (2010-07-07). "Police make arrest in 'Grim Sleeper' killings". msnbc.com. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38133825/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 
  6. ^ a b Simon, Mallory (2010-07-08). "Police Suspect in Los Angeles Grim Sleeper case to be arraigned". CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/07/08/grim.sleeper.case/index.html?hpt=T2. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  7. ^ http://www.laweekly.com/2010-07-15/news/missing-the-grim-sleeper-by-a-hair/1
  8. ^ Christine Pelisek (2008-08-28). "Grim Sleeper Returns: He's Murdering Angelenos, as Cops Hunt his DNA – Page 4 – News – Los Angeles". LA Weekly. http://www.laweekly.com/2008-08-28/news/grim-sleeper/4. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  9. ^ a b c Christine Pelisek (2009-03-12). "Grim Sleeper's Sole Survivor – Page 2 – News – Los Angeles". LA Weekly. http://www.laweekly.com/2009-03-12/news/grim-sleeper-39-s-sole-survivor/2. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  10. ^ a b Christine Pelisek (2009-03-12). "Grim Sleeper's Sole Survivor – Page 1 – News – Los Angeles". LA Weekly. http://www.laweekly.com/2009-03-12/news/grim-sleeper-39-s-sole-survivor/. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  11. ^ http://www.AMW.com/fugitives/brief.cfm?id=60381/[broken citation]
  12. ^ Pelisek, Christine (2009-02-25). "Tape May Hold Clue to Identifying Grim Sleeper Serial Killer – Los Angeles News – The Informer". Blogs.laweekly.com. http://blogs.laweekly.com/ladaily/1tape-may-hold-clue-to-identif/. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  13. ^ a b c "LA 'Grim Sleeper' Probe to Check Unsolved Killings". Yahoo! News. 2010-07-09. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100709/ap_on_re_us/us_grim_sleeper_killings_34#mwpphu-container. Retrieved 2010-07-23. [dead link]
  14. ^ a b c d "New Technique of Using Family's DNA Led Police to 'Grim Sleeper' Suspect". ABC News. 2010-07-08. http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/familys-dna-led-police-grim-sleeper-serial-killer/story?id=11116381&page=2. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  15. ^ Leonard, Jack (2010-07-15). "Authorities Missed A Chance to Catch Grim Sleeper Suspect". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/15/local/la-me-grim-sleeper-dna-20100715. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  16. ^ a b Blankstein, Andrew; Rubin, Joel (2010-07-16). "Police Collect Hundreds of Pieces of Evidence from Grim Sleeper Suspect's Home". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/16/local/la-me-0716-grim-sleeper-search-20100716. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  17. ^ a b "Arrest Made in L.A. 'Grim Sleeper' Killings". FOX News. 2010-07-07. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/07/07/arrest-la-grim-sleeper-killings/. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  18. ^ http://blogs.abcnews.com/nightlinedailyline/2010/07/grim-sleeper-suspect-arrested-in-los-angeles.html
  19. ^ "Accused LA Serial Killer Said to Visit Prostitutes". Yahoo! News. 2010-07-08. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100708/ap_on_re_us/us_grim_sleeper_killings_23. Retrieved 2010-07-23. [dead link]
  20. ^ "'Grim Sleeper' Timeline". cbs2.com. http://cbs2.com/local/Grim.Sleeper.Timeline.2.1792682.html. Retrieved 2010-07-08. [dead link]

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