The arraignment hearing for Grim Sleeper suspect Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was postponed this morning. Franklin, 57, is charged with 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for a series of killings that date back to 1985. Franklin, who appeared in court wearing a blue jail jumpsuit, agreed to have the hearing postponed till August 23 as a packed courtroom of reporters, victims' family members and friends watched intently.
Franklin's attorney asked the judge to ban photographers from the courtroom because Franklin is under investigation for additional murders. The judge refused the request and denied that photographs would be prejudicial.
Franklin, a mechanic with a history of stealing cars, was arrested July 7 as he walked out of his mint green home on West 81st Street near Western Avenue after DNA evidence linked him to the crimes. Franklin, 57, was caught through familial DNA testing after his son was arrested for a weapons charge in 2009 and had to give up a DNA swab.
Franklin's home is almost at the epicenter of the troubled sector of Los Angeles where the brutal murders took place. Inside the home, police discovered hundreds of pieces of evidence including guns, ammunition, handcuffs and at least 100 photographs of scantily clad and naked women. They also found a .25 caliber handgun, the same type of gun that was used to kill most of his victims.
Franklin is believed to have killed 11 people, mostly women, since 1985. Their bodies found in alleyways and dumpsters along Western Avenue. They had been shot with a .25 caliber pistol. One victim survived and led police to a house just three doors down from where Franklin lived.
The killer, thought to have operated only in the 1980s, struck again in 2002, 2003 and 2007. He is considered to be the longest-operating serial killer west of the Mississippi. LA Weekly documented his return in a 2008 story titled “Grim Sleeper Returns: He's Murdering Angelenos, as Cops Hunt his DNA.”