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
Prescod even got called to a meeting of “black church hot shots,” as she calls them, who warned her to stop protesting at Parker Center. “They told us that they would be glad to organize a private meeting with [Chief] Gates and wanted us to call off the weekly vigils. We said, ‘No thank you very much.’”
On another occasion, she says, “Gates singled me out and said I was a hysterical woman bent on bringing down the LAPD.”
Except Prescod was right all along — the public did need to know. And the horrible menace out there is now known as the Grim Sleeper.
“We were certainly cognizant that we had a serial killer, and it concerned us greatly,” Gates tells L.A. Weekly today. “I have no reason to believe she did it for any other reason except for concern about young girls who were being murdered.”
Gates remembers that “It could be a pain in the neck for detectives, but as far as I am concerned, very healthy. ... There are those that believe that because the victims are black that the police won’t pay as much attention, and that is not true,” at least of the police. “Most of the [Hillside Strangler victims] were white. The media gave that far more attention than the murders in South Central L.A.”
In early 1989, a second wave of slayings by the mysterious man now known as the Grim Sleeper hit the news. A KABC broadcast cited unnamed sources as saying that evidence proved that at least nine, and as many as 12, black women had been shot to death by the same 25-caliber gun.
The killer struck first in August 1985, when a purported “prostitute” was found shot to death off Gage Avenue. In fact, the woman was later identified as cocktail waitress Debra Jackson, the first victim of the Grim Sleeper. Later, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Rickey Ross was charged for the shooting deaths of three prostitutes, and some cops believed that Ross, one of their own, was the serial killer. But charges against him were dropped after ballistics tests proved that a gun found in Ross’ car did not match the gun used by the killer. And years later, after Ross died, the Grim Sleeper killings continued.
Prescod says that at the time, Ross and his family beseeched the Black Coalition for support. “He said he was innocent and being set up,” she says. “He wanted to meet us and convince us that it wasn’t him....” But her group was too uncertain. “We just didn’t do it.”
Now Prescod is back. The Grim Sleeper is still out there, his most recent victim killed in 2007. She wants a more open relationship with the new detectives working the cases. She just might get it, now that police attitudes have changed. Says LAPD Detective Dennis Kilcoyne: “I told her I would [help]. I told her the more noise she makes, the more people call me. That is a good thing.”
Prescod is ready. “Our mind is very open,” she says. “We will see how it goes.”
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