Please, please,please, will those who have the power to do so take the steps to identify this evil person? Stop trying to get elected by being politically correct, and do it by having the guts to make the hard decisions.
By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Betty Lowe, whose daughter Mary was killed by the Grim Sleeper in late 1987, is getting on in years. She doesn’t want to hear stories about why police can’t find her child’s killer. She learned for the first time in 2006 that Mary was the victim of a serial murderer, and her anger came quickly. “We are not going to let this go,” Lowe says. “I have wanted this case solved so I can get on with my life.... I want to know who killed my baby!”
There is one possibility Los Angeles cops have not yet pursued: The killer has left a trail of his own DNA. Crime-scene analysts have discovered traces of his dried saliva on victims’ breasts. But to the surprise of many homicide investigators, his DNA profile doesn’t match anything in the state offender or federal crime database.
So Los Angeles police are hoping the Grim Sleeper has a brother, father or cousin in prison. Experts believe that roughly 40 percent of violent criminals have close relatives in jail. If the Grim Sleeper’s “familial” DNA popped up in a survey of the state offender’s database of more than 1 million DNA profiles, the L.A. killer might finally be identified by family name.
“They are doing research on familial DNA” at the LAPD to prepare for such a search, confirms Inglewood detective Loyd Waters, who is informally part of the 800 Task Force because the Grim Sleeper’s 2002 victim, teenager Princess Berthomieux, was found dead in Inglewood. “That’s powerful stuff,” says former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary of the usefulness of familial DNA studies.
But those clues are currently locked up in an obscure government crime lab 376 miles north of Los Angeles, controlled by the mercurial attorney general, Jerry Brown, who wants to be the next governor of California. In familial DNA testing, a match of at least 16 “markers” could indicate a close relative. Brown’s spokesman, Gareth Lacy, says, ”It is not something that will all of a sudden crack thousands of cases.” But, “if it is a lead, if you have a killer at large, if it can help, we want to work with the agency.”
Or maybe not. Although Kilcoyne denies it, Inglewood detective Waters says Bratton and his underlings have requested that Brown allow a familial DNA survey — but Brown’s aide stonily rebuffed the Weekly’s queries, saying any such DNA comparisons wouldn’t occur for months. Some civil rights groups view looking for relatives by probing the state felon DNA archive as an invasion of privacy. They also criticize such comparisons because of “false positives” that could wrongly identify somebody who is not actually a family member.
Last May, Brown publicly announced that he would allow “familial” DNA surveys of the California prisoner database — but only if all other leads had been exhausted and the criminal being sought posed a threat, a description that fits the Grim Sleeper to a T.
Kilcoyne, meanwhile, fears that the Grim Sleeper has slaughtered, and might still be slaughtering, far more people than police have turned up. “We are at number 11,” he says, “and I would venture to say that this is probably half of what he has done.”
Police face an almost total mystery — such as why the suspect started up again, and why he kills quietly, unlike the notoriously media-hungry BTK Killer or California’s boastful Zodiac Killer. The BTK Killer bragged in letters about his murders between 1974 and 1991. His writings resumed in 2004, after the Wichita Eagle published a story on the 30th anniversary of his first murders, of the Otero family.
“It prompted this guy to come back to us,” recalls Richard LaMunyon, then chief of the Wichita Police Department. “If we didn’t catch him, he would have called his own news conference.... He wanted to be in the hall of fame of serial killers.”
BTK turned out to be an unassuming Boy Scout leader named Dennis Rader, caught after police traced a floppy disk he’d sent them to the church where he was a deacon. “[Rader] would go for a year or two without killing,” LaMunyon says. “Then he would go dormant again for almost 10 years.”
Could L.A.’s killer be a family man, like Rader, whose own wife and kids are unaware of his murder spree? Or perhaps California’s most enduring serial killer is closer in nature to the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, a prostitute-hater who led police on a cat-and-mouse hunt in King County, Washington, for almost 20 years until his DNA linked him to three of his 48 victims.
Is the Grim Sleeper also getting revenge on women he sees as harlots, by killing so many messed up, young, black women? Or does he merely live just down the block, like Chester Turner, who killed almost exclusively near his mother’s South-Los Angeles home?