The 11 known victims of the Grim Sleeper, Lonnie Franklin Jr., finally have justice. After a California jury found the state’s most prolific serial killer guilty, he now faces the possibility of the death penalty.
One victim’s father, Porter Alexander Jr., told ABC News he wants the so-called Grim Sleeper to suffer the same fate as his daughter.
“He took a limb from me and every time I look she’s missing and can never be replaced. I don’t care how many pictures I have on the wall, or all the things I see around me, doesn’t bring her back.”
The case has taken decades to finish, concluding with convictions on 10 murder charges and one of attempted murder. Franklin, 63, killed women in Los Angeles from 1985 to 1988, then took an apparent 14-year break. Police believe he continued to kill, but his victims during that period have never been found. He committed another killing spree from 2002 to 2007.
He was linked to the 10 slain victims and an 11th survivor through DNA evidence, ballistics, or both.
The police have been accused of ignoring the Grim Sleeper’s victims: poor, black, some prostitutes, some drug addicts. They were fatally shot or strangled and dumped in alleys and garbage bins. The Los Angeles Times listed them all in the order they died.
Debra Jackson, 29; Henrietta Wright, 35; Barbara Ware, 23; Bernita Sparks, 25; Mary Lowe, 26; Lachrica Jefferson, 22; Alicia Alexander; Berthomieux; Valerie McCorvey, 35; and Janecia Peters, 25.
The 10th victim was Enietra Washington, who was lured into the Grim Sleeper’s car, shot in the chest, sexually assaulted, and dumped, but she survived. After Franklin’s arrest, the photos of nearly 200 women were discovered in his house, and some of them have never been found, NBC Southern California reported.
During the trial’s closing arguments, Deputy Dist. Atty. Beth Silverman reminded jurors of the victims’ humanity.
“They suffered from the same frailties and the same imperfections that all humans do, and they had the same hopes and the same dreams for their futures that we all have. None of them deserved to be brutally dumped like trash as if their lives had no meaning.”
The women were killed and disposed of partially dressed or naked, some decomposing by the time they were found. None of them had identification when they were dumped and were therefore labeled Jane Doe at first. The ones killed by the Grim Sleeper during the 1980s were targeted during a tumultuous time in South Los Angeles.
These killings occurred during a crack cocaine epidemic and a surge of homicides related to the drug. And the Grim Sleeper was just one of many serial killers working L.A. at the time. Police failed to link his victims and kept the deaths quiet even though they suspected the Grim Sleeper was targeting young black women.
After the last body was found in 2007, a task force revisited the case and finally linked the Grim Sleeper’s long-ignored victims to each other and to him.
For Princess Berthomieux’s sister, Samara Herard, she never thought the day would come that the Grim Sleeper would be brought to justice. Princess, 15, was beaten and strangled by Franklin in 2002.
“I can’t even begin to explain. You wait so long and you don’t think it will come. You knew in your heart it would be this, but it’s surreal. She deserved to live a full life. I’m here for her.”
When the guilty verdict was read Thursday, the families of the Grim Sleeper’s victims were in court, and their reactions varied: Wright’s daughter nodded slowly, crying. Porter and his wife Mary, held hands, Mary with eyes closed and Porter clenched his hand into a fist.
Afterward, Mr. Alexander said he doesn’t understand why or how Franklin could kill so many.
“He took my baby — it crippled me. But it didn’t stop me. I got that from my daughter,” he said. “What goes around, came around. Now it’s his turn. Eye for an eye.”
The next step of the trial will take place on May 12 when the court will determine whether the Grim Sleeper will be given the death penalty. But prosecutors have another task.
There are five more women, five more victims, who may be tied to the serial killer. And prosecutors will be presenting evidence that the Grim Sleeper killed them, too.
[Photo by Mark Boster/AP Images]