The phone lines at 1-877-LAWFULL, a number that rings at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Parker Center, have been hopping since news broke Wednesday that the Los Angeles City Council offered a whopping $500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the serial killer dubbed “the Grim Sleeper.”
One operator, who didn’t want to be identified, told the Weekly that he has received numerous calls about the elusive serial killer believed to be responsible for the murders of 11 people in South Los Angeles dating to 1985.
“Some want to remain anonymous, and want the reward,” he said. “They don’t hesitate about the reward.”
One of the callers, he said, was an older woman who said she saw a red Ford Pinto parked at a fish restaurant in San Bernardino. The suspect was known to drive a red, rust or orange Pinto in the 1980’s.
Dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” by the Weekly, which broke the news last week 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.
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.
Then the killings abruptly stopped for 13 years. “What accounted for that gap, we still don't know,” said LAPD Captain Denis Cremins. 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.
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.