"Grim Sleeper" Lonnie Franklin Jr. Sentenced to Death

"Grim Sleeper" Lonnie Franklin Jr. Sentenced to Death
Tales of the Grim Sleeper

The former L.A. garbage collector who earned the name "the Grim Sleeper" after a string of murders between 1985 and 2007 was sentenced to death in Los Angeles Superior Court today.

Judge Kathleen Kennedy today told 63-year-old Lonnie Franklin Jr., "You shall suffer the death penalty," during a sentencing hearing. The last time a prisoner was executed by the state was in 2006. 

In May, a jury convicted Franklin of killing 10 women, including a teenage girl, whose bodies were, according to one prosecutor, "dumped like trash" in South Los Angeles alleys and streets not far from Franklin's home on 82nd Street.

The jury recommended death, and Kennedy concurred.

"Your loved one, your daughter, your sister, your mother, your friend is still gone,'' Kennedy said, addressing the families of several of Franklin's victims. "Hopefully there is some measure of justice you'll feel, but closure isn't what this trial was about.''

Former L.A. Weekly managing editor Jill Stewart and crime reporter Christine Pelisek gave Franklin the nickname "the Grim Sleeper" based on a gap in killings from 1988 to 2002. It later turned out that he might have continued his serial murder spree unbeknownst to authorities, and detectives now believe he could be responsible for several additional killings.

The case is closed, but slayings in 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2005 remain unsolved. And, in their search of Franklin's home in 2010, investigators found 1,000 photographs and videos of women, some appearing to be unconscious. As many as 35 have yet to be identified.

Several of the women Franklin targeted worked as prostitutes or had drug habits. He would give the women rides or offer to fix their cars.

"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."

Franklin's former neighbor, Ray Santiago, told us in 2010 that Franklin "had a habit of talking about prostitutes."

"They're good meat to work with and they never ask questions," Santiago recalled Franklin saying.

Detectives ultimately used DNA to link Franklin to multiple murders.

Enietra Washington, who survived two shots to her chest in an attack after she accepted a ride from Franklin in 1998, faced him in court.

"You need to take me to the hospital," she testified that she told him that night. "He said he can't do that. I said, 'If I die I am going to haunt you.'"

-With reporting from City News Service


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