Lonnie D. Franklin Jr. is charged with a string of killings in Los Angeles over 25 years. He was dubbed the “Grim Sleeper,” a serial killer who appeared to go on a three-year killing spree, paused for more than a decade and then began again.
But Los Angeles police now wonder whether he was sleeping at all.
The Los Angeles Police Department in December 2010 released 180 photographs of women found in the home of Mr. Franklin, who is already suspected of killing 10 people in South Los Angeles and dumping their bodies in streets or alleyways.
Mr. Franklin is accused of killing seven black women between 1985 and 1988 and three others between 2002 and 2007. Mr. Franklin, who was arrested in July 2010, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in jail.
Many of the Grim Sleeper’s victims were black women struggling with drugs. They were found dead in South Los Angeles, a troubled neighborhood where drug crimes, gang violence and an uneasy relationship with the police combined to hinder the arrest of Mr. Franklin.
Several things had happened in the years between the clusters of killings, which stopped in 1988 after a victim survived, and started again in 2002. DNA technology had advanced, and a new state law required felons to give up samples, which was leading to many more connections of violent crimes.more
At a news conference Thursday, Police Chief Charlie Beck stood before the gallery of pictures, most of them of black women, and implored the public to look. Many of the women had their eyes closed, perhaps sleeping but possibly dead. But just as many of them were smiling at the camera, with one posing in a bra. The hairstyles and jewelry suggested the photographs were taken in recent decades.
It is impossible to ignore the discomfort some might have with looking at the images or even finding her own face among them.
“This is creepy,” Detective Kilcoyne said in an interview. “These might be hard to look at, but we need the public’s help. If someone is angry that their photograph is shown, I would tell them we just want to make sure they are all right.”