Arrest in LA 'Grim Sleeper' Serial Killings

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 08, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Los Angeles residents and some of its police force may sleep better tonight; an arrest has been made in the "Grim Sleeper" serial murder case. The L.A. district attorney's office is confirming that the man thought to be behind the homicides of eleven people since 1985, Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 57, is in custody.

The stories behind the grim crimes were followed for four years by LA Weekly reporter Christine Pelisek. The Grim Sleeper was so named by Pelisek and the Weekly for the dormant period between killings from the 1980s and when he struck again in 2002, 2003 and 2007. The Sleeper is the longest-operating serial killer west of the Mississippi.

KTLA News reports that the arrest was made at about 12:00 p.m. (PST) on July 7. Neighbors of the house where Franklin lived in Los Angeles described the suspect in now clichéd serial killer terms as "friendly" and "quiet." Franklin is a reported to be a retired mechanic from the LAPD's 77th Street division.

According to KTLA, a new DNA database tool had its first success in this break in the Grim Sleeper case. The investigative tool, known as "familial" searching in California, allows allows investigators to pursue partial genetic matches to crime scene evidence when the suspect's DNA profile is not part of the state database.

The Weekly writes one reason the Sleeper may have operated for so long was that his victims were almost entirely black women from working class neighborhoods, so nothing compared to the attention and resources dedicated to other high-profile killers across America was dedicated to the case. But on May 4, 2010, Los Angeles Councilman Bernard Parks placed six billboards in the South Los Angeles area displaying composite sketches and a $500,000 reward for information leading to the killer's arrest and conviction.

Lonnie David Franklin Jr., is expected to be arraigned on 10 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and special circumstance allegations that could make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted, according to the district attorney's office.

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