The Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders held a press conference and sidewalk vigil yesterday outside the Los Angeles Police Department's Parker Center headquarters for the victims of the Grim Sleeper. The group also questioned the lack of information and progress in resolving the murders of 10 women and one man that date back to 1985.
"South Los Angeles residents have no idea that there is a serial murderer out there," said activist Margaret Prescod, who founded the Black Coalition in the mid-1980s after dozens of women were found dead in alleyways, parks and dumpsters in South Los Angeles. At the time, the police believed the killings were the work of one man they dubbed the Southside Slayer. The Coalition became inactive in the early '90s but Prescod restarted it after last August, when the LA Weekly broke the news that the Grim Sleeper had struck again.
Margaret Prescod, founder of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders
"Little did we know we would be back in action," said Prescod as a dozen family members of victims and supporters held signs that read: "Every Life is of Value," "Black Women's lives count," "Not in Vain," and "We demand answers," all the while detectives and city employees ambled by.
Prescod also questioned why a 911 eyewitness report of the killer dumping a body in an alleyway in 1987 was kept hidden from the community until now.
Activist attorney Nana Gyamfi wanted to know why the police haven't
posted wanted posters and a sketch of the killer provided by the
surviving victim around South Los Angeles so "women would be aware that
someone is hunting them."
"Who is protected and served when the LAPD keeps it to themselves?" asked Gyamfi.
The coalition also unveiled a set of demands to the police and
elected officials that include a public relations campaign, a
bimonthly report on the status of the investigation and an accurate
count of unsolved murders involving African American women in South Los
Angeles. The coalition is also calling for an investigation by the
United States Department of Justice into the handling of the case.
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The 11 victims, including one male victim named Thomas Steele, were
found in alleys along a stretch of Western Avenue. The Grim Sleeper's
last known victim was 25-year-old Janecia Peters, who was found in a
dumpster January 1, 2007, by a homeless man looking for recyclables.