I have thought about how to close out this year of absolute insanity. So many deaths! Musicians, actors, politicians…nobody was safe from 2016! So I thought that instead of a list of bests or worsts (although those are always fun and interesting) I will focus on the umbrella theme of this year: death. There was a very high profile serial killer sentenced to death this year. I knew nothing about it until researching for this article. He is horrific enough that he will surely join the lore of killers we read about in books and see in film adaptations. His story involves multiple victims, picture-trophies, possible countless other victims, and spreads over three decades.
Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was born on August 30, 1952 in California. He was married, had two children and served a term in the U.S. Military. His neighbors described the man as “friendly and quiet” and he would often chat with them as he worked on his car in the driveway. He, like many serial killers before him, was not at all what he seemed.
Before the recent “Black Live Matter” movement, there was an ‘80s movement entitled “Black Women Count” spearheaded in California. The aim of this crusade was to publicly encourage LAPD to dig into the recent rash of murdered black women. Their goals were not fully accomplished, but they did have some success in police realizing that the murders were the work of a serial killer and not individual incidents. The killer was dubbed “The Southside Slayer” by the media, but remained un-captured despite appearing on America’s Most Wanted.
Jumping ahead to 2007, 25 year old Janecia Peters was found murdered by a .25 caliber handgun. DNA and bullet analysis connected her murder to the ones that happened back in 1985…the “Slayer” was back at work. More bodies were found and the killer was renamed “The Grimm Sleeper” due to the hibernating time off between series of killings.
Franklin Jr. remained uncaptured until his son was arrested and the DNA was linked from son to father and from crime to crime. To confirm the D.N.A. findings, a police officer posed as a busboy while Franklin Jr. was attending a friend’s birthday party at a local restaurant. Collecting pizza crusts, silverware and a drinking glass used by Franklin police confirmed that they had their man.
Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was arrested on July 7, 2010 and charged with the murder of ten women and one attempted murder. An even more grisly discovery was made upon police searching Franklin Jr’s house. Over 1,000 pictures and several hours of film of countless black women were found in various states of dress, consciousness and battery. Their ages ranged from teenagers to senior citizens and dated back 30 years. Franklin Jr. was officially labeled as the longest operating serial killer west of the Mississippi.
His trial began in February of 2016 and on May 5, 2016 The Grimm Sleeper was convicted of killing 10 women. On June 6, exactly 31 years after his first victim, the death penalty was announced.
Enietra Washington remains the only known survivor of Franklin Jr.’s attacks and her testimony was instrumental
during the trials. The scariest part of this saga is that it is far, far from over. Charlie Beck, LAPD Police Chief, has announced that “We certainly don’t believe we are so lucky or so good as to know all of his victims. We need the public’s help.” It is strongly believed that the collection of pictures found in Franklin Jr.’s home are additional victims, but due to his work with the Los Angeles Sanitation Department, not many would be more equipped at hiding bodies than The Grimm Sleeper.
|1||Debra Jackson||F||29||August 10, 1985||Vermont-Slauson, Los Angeles|
|2||Henrietta Wright||F||34||August 12, 1986||Hyde Park, Los Angeles|
|3||Thomas Steele ‡||M||36||August 14, 1986||Harvard Park, Los Angeles|
|4||Barbara Ware||F||23||January 10, 1987||Central-Alameda, Los Angeles|
|5||Bernita Sparks||F||26||April 15, 1987||Gramercy Park, Los Angeles|
|6||Mary Lowe||F||26||November 1, 1987||Gramercy Park, Los Angeles|
|7||Lachrica Jefferson||F||22||January 30, 1988||Westmont, Los Angeles County|
|8||Alice “Monique” Alexander||F||18||September 11, 1988||Vermont Square, Los Angeles|
|9||Enietra “Margette” Washington‡‡||F||30||Survived||Gramercy Park, Los Angeles|
|10||Princess Berthomieux||F||15||March 19, 2002||Inglewood, California|
|11||Valerie McCorvey||F||35||July 11, 2003||Westmont, Los Angeles County|
|12||Janecia Peters||F||25||January 1, 2007||Gramercy Park, Los Angeles|
‡ suspected victim
‡‡ only survivor