Lonnie Franklin Jr. from "Tales of the Grim Sleeper."
Lonnie Franklin Jr., a 63-year-old married father of two, was convicted Thursday of murdering ten Los Angeles area women and trying to kill one other one, and authorities suspect he is responsible for a much more horrific run of serial murders. Franklin preyed on prostitutes and other women in South Los Angeles — and also worked at the garage of the LAPD's 77th Street Division and as a city sanitation worker. He received the name the Grim Sleeper from the LA Weekly in a 2008 piece by Christine Pelisek that informed many in the city about an unsolved and largely unrecognized years-long massacre of women along Western Avenue, and that showed how the serial killer was back in action after a 13-year gap.
Plenty of coverage everywhere of today's verdicts, but let's tune in to the LA Weekly's report by Dennis Romero.
His killing spree dates back to the crack-fueled year of 1985... The serial killing was the subject of a 2104 HBO documentary, Tales of the Grim Sleeper; a Lifetime documentary, Behind the Headlines: The Grim Sleeper; and a Lifetime movie, The Grim Sleeper.
Franklin was finally fingered for the murders after LAPD set up a task force in 2007. After investigators zeroed in on the now 63-year-old, an undercover detective worked as a busboy at a pizza party the killer attended in 2010. DNA from a plate Franklin used was collected and was ultimately matched to Franklin's son, who had been arrested in 2009 on suspicion of a felony gun allegation. The "familial DNA" led to the Grim Sleeper, cops said.
When Franklin was arrested at his home on July 7, 2010, cops searched the premises, finding 1,000 eerie photographs of women. There are more than 30 subjects whose whereabouts are unknown to this day.
Pelisek covered today's verdicts for People magazine. Excerpt:
The verdict brings to an end a nearly three-month trial featuring the testimony of more than 50 witnesses, including Grim Sleeper survivor Enietra Washington, who testified that Franklin shot her, sexually assaulted her, and took a Polaroid picture of her before pushing her out of his car 27 years ago....
Franklin, a married father of two and former LAPD mechanic and sanitation worker for the city of Los Angeles, was charged with the murders in July of 2010.
Most of Franklin's victims were shot with a .25-caliber pistol while others were strangled. Their bodies were discovered in dumpsters and alleyways along Western Avenue in South Los Angeles, an area known for its cheap motels, liquor stores, gambling parlors, auto salvage yards and storefront churches.
His murder spree began on Jan. 15, 1984, when Sharon Dismuke was discovered fatally shot in the chest in the restroom of an abandoned gas station.
The last known murder occurred on January 1, 2007, when 25-year-old Janecia Peters's lifeless body was discovered in a dumpster. Peters had been shot in the lower back, paralyzing her from the waist down.
"She couldn't run away," said prosecutor Beth Silverman during closing arguments Monday. "She couldn't escape. This particular victim spent several minutes gasping for breath. It was an agonizing way to die."
She describes family members of the victims hugging and crying outside court. Pelisek also spoke to the lead detective on the case. "It was a long time coming," Daryn Dupree said. "It was very important that justice was done. I'm so relieved for the community and family."
Grim Sleeper Found Guilty! https://t.co/3aHMZVZIxh— christine pelisek (@chrispelisek) May 5, 2016
For decades, these women were forgotten. But conviction of "Grim Sleeper" brings banner Page One headline. Fri LAT: pic.twitter.com/owKHnHtHwd— Shelby Grad (@shelbygrad) May 6, 2016
Previously on LA Observed:
The Grim Sleeper serial killer story continues
LAPD asks again for help with possible Grim Sleeper victims
21 women in Grim Sleeper's photos identified so far
Daily Beast snatches up Pelisek
Grim Sleeper suspect dropped hints all along
Pelisek explains how she came to Grim Sleeper beat