The notorious “Grim Sleeper” serial killer was sentenced to death last week, which put to rest a case that haunted the Los Angeles area and officials, as well as victims’ families for more than three decades. However, the conviction and sentencing leaves a large mystery looming.
Officials are still trying to identify 33 women that were a part of collection of pictures found in the convicted’s home, whose actual name is Lonnie Franklin Jr., following his arrest.
‘Grim Sleeper’ headed to death row, but mystery remains https://t.co/Q9EWUEEUnS
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The 33 were included in the eerie uncovering of nearly 1,000 photos of women and teenage girls, many of which were nude, while some appeared to be unconscious or dead. The collage of photos was hidden in Franklin’s home and were made up of images including several victims and leads to the belief by police and prosecutors that there were many more victims that the killer left behind.
Investigators on the case state that Franklin is one of the most “prolific killers” and that he likely killed as many as 25 women over the course of more than three decades from the late 70s until his arrest in 2010. The serial killer’s nickname came from a time period between 1988 and 2002 when he seemed to take a break, thereby becoming the Grim Sleeper over those years, says Detective Daryn Dupree. The Associated Press relays his words.
“I don’t think he stopped because he was getting away with it. I think he slowed down, but I don’t think that big gap was as much as we thought it was.”
The 63-year-old was sentenced to death on Wednesday following being convicted of the murder of nine women and a 15-year-old girl in the southern region of Los Angeles. Prosecutors also made note of three additional killings that Franklin wasn’t charged with as well as the death of two other women who went missing that they suspect he killed. The identification of one missing woman, 18-year-old Ayellah Marshall, who disappeared in 2006, turned up in Franklin’s garage along with the driver’s license of Rolenia Morris, 29, who went missing in 2005. Two pictures of Morris were found in Franklin’s collection of photos.
The defense attorney representing Franklin refused to comment on any other killings that the convicted may have committed. The Grim Sleeper denied any role in the killings to detectives and his team of defense attorneys suggest that a mystery man was the real killer.
The majority of the killings happened during the height of crack cocaine use in Los Angeles. Franklin preyed on young women in the same poor area that he lived. Many were drug users who had turned to prostitution as a mean to support their addiction.
Dupree, who grew up in the area and witnessed the effects that crack had, notes the scene that was typical in that area back in the 80s.
“Back then, you’d drive down the street and girls would be trying to jump in your car.”
Investigators share that other serial killers made the area their main domain to prey on young women within. Often they would sexually assault the women and then discard of them in alleys, trash bins or parks nearby.
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These additional killings were believed to have been the work of a man who was termed the “Southside Slayer” although other individuals were arrested and charged with crimes while DNA testing and evidence became more reliable.
Margaret Prescod, a member of the neighborhood group named Black Coalition Fighting Back, shares how she views the arrest, conviction, and sentence of Franklin.
“We’re glad there’s a killer off the street, but that doesn’t mean everything is resolved, There is a whole set of women and nobody knows what happened to them.”
The police reached out to members of this group to assist in identifying the remaining women in the collection of photos found at Franklin’s home. They assisted in getting 166 down to the final 33.
[Photo by Al Seib-Pool/Getty Images]