Los Angeles Police Department detectives held a press conference today asking for the public’s help in finding a serial killer believed to be responsible for at least 11 murders in South Los Angeles over a 23-year span.
Dubbed the Grim Sleeper by the LA Weekly, which broke the news that he is still operating in the area, the murderer left the bodies of 10 women and one man almost exclusively along a section of Western Avenue.
“It is the LAPD’s top priority,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Charlie Beck who was flanked by close to a dozen detectives.
LAPD Deputy Chief Charlie Beck asks for the public's help in solving Grim Sleeper murders.
The Grim Sleeper “preyed on the weakest in the city of Los Angeles,” said Beck at the news conference at the Los Angeles Police Department's downtown Parker Center headquarters. “We will leave no stone unturned, and this predator will be captured.”
Eight of the 11 killings occurred between 1985 and 1988. Then, in November of 1988, a ninth intended victim escaped. She described her attacker as a 30-ish black man driving a rust, red or orange Ford Pinto. The bullet removed from her chest was matched to the gun used to kill the first eight victims.
The Los Angeles City Council offered a $500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Grim Sleeper.
But that description may not be accurate because the victim was “traumatized pretty severely,'' said 800 task force supervisor Dennis Kilcoyne.
Then the killings abruptly stopped for 13 years. Police did not realize the killer was active again until LAPD started a cold-case unit under then-Chief Bernard Parks to investigate unsolved killings. Crime lab workers hit pay dirt when they matched DNA taken from murder scenes in 2002 and 2003 to DNA found at the 1980s murder scenes.
Grim Sleeper's victims
Most recently, the Grim Sleeper struck in January 2007. A homeless man discovered the body of 25-year-old Janecia Peters, and a DNA match linked her death to the others.
In June, the LAPD quietly launched the 800 Task Force to track the elusive killer.
The Grim Sleeper is “unique because he uses a number of methods of killing his victims,'' said Kilcoyne.
Kilcoyne said the victims probably got into the vehicle late at night with the Grim Sleeper.
Last week, the Los Angeles City Council offered a $500,000 reward for information that helps solve the 10 crimes that occurred within the city limits.
“This guy may be a frequent customer to prostitutes,” said Beck. As for a motive, Beck said the suspect “is a maniac. He is a broken person.''
Anyone with information on the murders was asked to contact LAPD Robbery- Homicide at (213) 485-2531 or (877) LAWFULL.