A Community's "Grim Sleeper" Vigil
Around 50 church leaders, community activists, family members, and friends along with a handful of Los Angeles Police Department Robbery/Homicide detectives gathered Wednesday evening to remember the 11 victims of the Grim Sleeper, a serial killer who has been
murdering mostly African American women in South Los Angeles since 1985. (The male suspect was dubbed the Grim Sleeper by the L.A. Weekly because he took a 13-year break before suddenly resuming his slayings.)
DNA and ballistics have linked the killer to 10 women and one man who were murdered almost exclusively along a section of Western Avenue. The suspect is the longest-operating serial killer west of the Mississippi.
Reward Up to $500,000
The vigil also marked the second anniversary of the last known
murder, that of 25-year-old Janecia Peters, whose nude body was found
in a dumpster by a homeless man on January 1, 2007.
LAPD has been working on this case for 24 years," said Detective Dennis
Kilcoyne, who supervises the 800 Serial Killer Task Force. "It is the
only case we are working."
Kilcoyne told the handful of local
TV and print media that the only way to solve the case is "with the
"Someone out there knows who this
person is," said Kilcoyne as a homeless man wandered behind him asking
the mostly African American crowd of candle-holding onlookers for small
Los Angeles City Council Member Bernard Parks, whose
district includes most of the 11 murder sites, offered that detectives
were not ruling out that the Grim Sleeper, whose saliva and DNA were
recovered at several of the crime scenes, used an accomplice. "We are
not limiting it to one person," he said.
Church members of the Southeast Clergy Council said they learned about the existence of the Grim Sleeper only a week ago.
never heard about it," said P.J. Choyce. "Something should have been
done about this before now. Hopefully this is a beginning."
"Stop the body bags," added Leonard White.
In September, the City Council voted to reward $200,000
to any person who supplies information leading to the killer's or
killers' arrest and conviction. The council also approved a record-high
$500,000 if the clues lead to more than one conviction, such as that of
A tip line has garnered dozens of leads but no killer. Nor did a November 1 televised feature, prompted by the L.A. Weekly's story, on America's Most Wanted.
The Weekly reported
that the police were stymied by the fact that the Grim Sleeper's DNA
profile didn't match any sample in the state-offender or federal crime
databases. They were hoping a long-shot effort to unmask the man
through DNA "familial" testing
would identify the killer's family, and eventually lead police to the
killer. This attempt to search criminal databases for the killer's
brother or father, whose DNA would appear similar to that of the Grim
Sleeper's, was the first known major use of the "familial DNA" method
for investigating a crime.
However, the long-awaited DNA test was a huge disappointment, failing to turn up any clues to the Grim Sleeper's identity.
Donnell Alexander, whose sister Monique Alexander was murdered in 1988,
is happy that the police are actively working the case and the
community is starting to become more involved.
"It brings us
together, and sometimes you have to point the finger," he said.
Alexander said he hopes the killer will be caught before his parents
pass away. If not, he said, "It will be up to her brothers" to find
justice for Monique.
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