By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
The day before, Janecia had telephoned her mom. “She just said, ‘I got a place.’ She was really excited .... Whoever she was going to stay with, she felt she was safe.”
She wasn’t. Janecia died at the hands of the Grim Sleeper. Yet Peters and dozens of other mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers were never told their loved ones had been killed by the same psychopath.
There has been no big press conference by Bratton, who recently weighed in on Lindsay Lohan’s love life. The camera-loving Villaraigosa recently beseeched the public to eat nutritiously. Unlike city leaders who decried the “BTK Killer” near Kansas City and the “Green River Killer” who terrorized Seattle, Los Angeles’ City Hall is either unaware, or has kept news of California’s longest-operating killer under wraps. Local journalists haven’t even assigned him a creepy nickname, like Night Stalker (Grim Sleeper was chosen by the Weekly to mark his 13 years of inactivity before killing again).
Two key City Council members, who learned of the Grim Sleeper's existence for the first time this week from the Weekly, had strong reactions.
Bernard Parks’ chief of staff and son, Bernard C. Parks Jr., whose district is ground zero in the killings, accused Chief Bratton of purposely keeping former Chief Parks in the dark. "Leaving us out of the loop about something so important boggles the mind," Parks Jr. said. Councilman Jack Weiss, who has repeatedly called for DNA testing of human traces stored in the cold-case files, vowed to seek weekly LAPD updates on cases that are being linked to known serial killers and serial rapists.
Thanks to the extraordinarily poor diplomacy extended by the Villaraigosa administration and the LAPD brass to the victims’ mostly working-class black families, the Weekly was also the first to inform some families this month that the murders are known to be the work of one sick man.
Laverne Peters had long suspected that Janecia’s death was part of something bigger. Her daughter’s murder case was transferred from 77th Division to the specialized detectives “downtown” in 2007, and she knew that one easily forgotten young woman would not merit such an elite investigative crew.
“It doesn’t take a scientist to figure it out,” she says. But when LAPD detectives paid Peters a visit, they didn’t come clean with her. The city’s failure to involve the families, she believes, stems from the fact that “they are poor little black girls.”
A deeply frustrated Porter Alexander, who learned from this newspaper that his daughter Monique’s death in 1988 was the work of the Grim Sleeper, says, “We should have some awareness that it is going on again. Nobody came to us.”
Detective Kilcoyne’s small unit has tried to let people know that a madman is afoot. Task force detectives working the 11 murders have informed Vice and Homicide detectives, as well as local prostitutes. “This is a pretty small area in South Los Angeles. We have been talking to the prostitutes for years.... The word is out that the police are out there.”
But neither Villaraigosa nor Bratton tried to alert the city. If they ever had, one woman who would be hyperaware of it is Minister Pat Jones of the First Church of God in Inglewood. Jones, who is also co-chairwoman of the Southeast area neighborhood council and the Southwest area neighborhood council, was stunned to hear from the newspaper about the existence of the Grim Sleeper. “How come [they] haven’t involved the community? There are no fliers or nothing. In order for us to work on it to stop it, we have to be all-inclusive and involve everybody. We have to flood the neighborhood. This is serious. ... We need to have a press conference to talk about it.”
The Weekly attempted to reach elected city officials and top Villaraigosa political appointees, but many were out of town, attending the Democratic National Convention, including the mayor, City Council President Eric Garcetti and Police Commission Vice President John Mack. Spokeswoman Eva Vega said Mack couldn’t weigh in on the Grim Sleeper case. “He doesn’t have the time,” she said. “He’s too busy right now.” The Weekly got a nearly identical response from Bratton’s office.
Such responses from City Hall feed the view held by Laverne Peters, that if 11 troubled young women had been killed in Westwood or Mount Washington by a single nut case operating over 23 years, it would be big news at City Hall. Instead, “It is almost hush-hush. ... [The authorities] act like the parents of those kids don’t exist.”
Whether through ineptness or disinterest, the silence from Bratton and Villaraigosa on the Grim Sleeper murders is welcomed by some detectives, who are happy to work without the help of Joe Citizen, because they fear that the killer could bolt or change his MO. No fliers are up in hard-hit areas. The six cops on Task Force 800 have few leads, one surviving eyewitness, stacks of “murder books” crackling with age — and a killer who leaves no fingerprints.
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