"Grim Sleeper" Convicted of South L.A. Serial Killings

Lonnie Franklin Jr.
Lonnie Franklin Jr.
Tales of the Grim Sleeper

Lonnie Franklin Jr., accused of killing 10 women and attempting to murder one more, was convicted of the crimes by a Los Angeles jury today.

A woman identified as Juror No. 2 read off the verdicts in Los Angeles Superior Court Department 109 today. Nine of the counts against Franklin included firearms enhancements, which likely will affect sentencing. All but one of the counts was for first-degree murder.

His killing spree dates back to the crack-fueled year of 1985.

His crimes, detailed in 2008 by then–L.A. Weekly reporter Christine Pelisek, earned Franklin the title "Grim Sleeper," coined by this publication because the bloodshed saw an apparent 13-year hiatus.

The serial killing was the subject of a 2104 HBO documentary, Tales of the Grim Sleeper; a Lifetime documentary, Behind the Headlines: The Grim Sleeper; and a Lifetime movie, The Grim Sleeper .

Franklin's crimes flew under the radar, with some in his South Los Angeles hunting grounds accusing authorities of caring less because victims were often young African-American women with cocaine habits. Some had turned to sex work.

One of his victims was 15, one was 18, three were in their 30s and six were in their 20s.

"Addiction caused these women to be extremely vulnerable,” Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told jurors. "This was a perfect opportunity for someone who knew the streets and alleyways by heart. Someone who knew where the drug-addicted women and prostitutes would congregate. … It was the perfect time for a serial killer to roam the streets of Los Angeles."

An 81st Street neighbor told us that Franklin once told him women who exchange sex for money are "good meat to work with and they never ask questions."

Creepy as that is, Franklin appeared to be a trusted neighbor who offered rides to women, helped out when their cars broke down, and even once worked at the garage of the Los Angeles Police Department's nearby 77th Street Division. He's also a former city sanitation worker.

Seven of his victims were shot with the same handgun and "dumped like trash" in South L.A. area alleys and dumpsters, Silverman said.

Enietra Washington said she accepted a ride from Franklin in 1998. He pulled out a gun, shot her in the chest, sexually assaulted her, took a Polaroid photograph of her, and pushed her out of his moving vehicle, prosecutors said.

She survived. And she told jurors what happened.

Franklin was finally fingered for the murders after LAPD set up a task force in 2007. After investigators zeroed in on the now 63-year-old, an undercover detective worked as a busboy at a pizza party the killer attended in 2010. DNA from a plate Franklin used was collected and was ultimately matched to Franklin's son, who had been arrested in 2009 on suspicion of a felony gun allegation. The "familial DNA" led to the Grim Sleeper, cops said.

Photographs like the one of Washington continue to haunt authorities.

When Franklin was arrested at his home on July 7, 2010, cops searched the premises, finding 1,000 eerie photographs of women. There are more than 30 subjects whose whereabouts are unknown to this day.

Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty.

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