The L.A. Weekly interviewed nationally known criminal profiler and CNN/Fox News correspondent Pat Brown to learn her thoughts about the Grim Sleeper – the longest operating serial killer west of the Mississippi.
The Grim Sleeper has killed mostly African American women in South Los Angeles since 1985. His last known victim was 25-year-old Janecia Peters, whose body was found in 2007 in an alley dumpster off of Western Avenue.
We at the Weekly dubbed the male suspect the Grim Sleeper because he took a 13-year break before suddenly resuming his slayings. Since we broke the story last August, a Web site dedicated to his crime spree has been set up. So has a Wikipedia page.
Brown tells us that most people believe that serial killers get caught. The reality is that very few serial killers get caught.
“Everyone is at risk when you have a serial killer in the vicinity,” she says. “The concept that the victim stays exactly the same is rubbish.”
Illustration: Brian Stauffer
Brown suspects that the Grim Sleeper's South Los Angeles playground is
a perfect hideout because it is big and also offers anonymity. He could
be a guy that works at a church or as a taxi driver. He might be known
on the street but he doesn't stand out. He may have picked up a
prostitute a few times, and perhaps even hurt her, without any of his
friends realizing what he was really like.
“Then she ends up going out with him alone and she ends up dead,”
she says. “You don't suspect him because she came back alive most of
It's also hard for a friend to make that leap to think that a buddy
could be a serial killer. The exception is that person who knows him
well and “might recognize his sociopathic tendencies.”
“Psychopaths don't have that many good friends. They are manipulators and users and they piss people off,” she says.
Brown surmises that the killer probably carries around a small gun
regularly for protection. “Maybe he killed another way before and it
didn't go well. Some of those street girls are tough. I am sure he has
hung around street girls quite a bit. He knows if he pulls out a knife,
it won't go well. He thinks a gun will work better. Maybe he doesn't
want to take a chance to fight with the girl. Maybe he is worried about
an injury because he came in [to a hospital or doctor] with injuries
She believes that the Grim Sleeper attacks women within one mile
from his home, and works to blend into the neighborhood because he
doesn't “want anyone staring at him.”
He may take breaks but will resume when things aren't going his way
— for example, if he loses a job or girlfriend. “When they feel like a
bum and no one respects [them],” she says, then speculates about his
“No one respects me during the day but at the nighttime I
am the Superman. Spiderman in the dark. I am the avenger of my own
world. They didn't see me coming.”
“He might not like to deal with women who talk back to him,” she
adds. “He is not very good at controlling. He grabs her, shoots her,
and he wins. I would guess that personality-wise he doesn't handle
relationships with people. He probably can't hold down a job. Probably
a volatile temper, and when he gets confronted he gets angry really
Brown says that the Grim Sleeper is probably pissed off at everyone,
might live with an aunt or sister, is cash-strapped, and is most likely
uneducated. He may have tried to get into the military but was thrown
“He doesn't have faith in himself or what he does . . . He can't even
control a victim for more than three seconds. He wants to make sure he
has the upper hand very quickly.”