A retired police mechanic, Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 57, was arrested and charged Wednesday in Los Angeles’ Grim Sleeper serial killings after decades of frustrated investigations into at least 11 slayings dating back 25 years – between 1985 and 2007 in which the killer targeted young black women and one man. The killer was dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” because he apparently took a 14-year hiatus in his crimes.
The “Grim Sleeper” case has dogged police even though they had the killer’s DNA, a description from a survivor and had offered a $500,000 reward. The victims were shot, strangled, or both, usually after some kind of sexual contact. Ten victims were women and several were prostitutes. Police have said it’s possible that the male victim, Thomas Steele, who was shot in 1987, was a friend of another victim or discovered the killer’s identity. All the bodies were found outdoors, often in alleys a few miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 57, was arrested at his home in South Los Angeles on Wednesday morning after police said they made DNA matches linking him to the killings of 11 people over the last three decades. Prosecutors said they have charged Franklin with 10 counts of murder, noting that he is eligible for the death penalty. Dozens of police officials closed off a block around the 81st Street house where the arrest was made. Neighbors described the man who lives there as friendly and quiet. They said he was often seen working on cars in his front yard and would sometimes stop to chat with passers-by.
In recent days, the LAPD received the results of what is known as a familial DNA search, which trolls through state felon databases for partial DNA matches that would indicate a match to a relative. The suspect in the killings had left DNA evidence at several of the crime scenes. The LAPD learned that a man in state prison showed a strong familial match. Detectives questioned the man, who was too young to have committed several of the older murders, and he led detectives to his father, Franklin. Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said detectives got a piece of discarded pizza with Franklin’s DNA to make the link.
The series of killings included victims, mostly female, in the city of Los Angeles, in unincorporated areas of L.A. County and in Inglewood since the 1980s. A survivor in 1988 described her attacker as black, in his 20s, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10, about 160 pounds, soft-spoken and articulate, with neatly trimmed hair and a pockmarked face. DNA and ballistics evidence have connected the killings of 10 women and one man from 1985 to 2007, police said. After 1988, the killer did not commit any known homicides until 2002 and last struck on Jan. 1, 2007.
Franklin has twice been convicted of felonies, according to court records, both for receiving stolen property. One was in 1993 and the other was 2003. He served a year in jail for the first conviction and was sentenced to 270 days in jail in the 2003 case.
Franklin was expected to be arraigned Thursday.
-articles from various sources rewritten and adapted by admin-