Since 1985, a serial killer has been stalking African-American women in South Los Angeles. Amazingly, his murderous journey was unknown to the public until L.A. Weekly published an August 29 exclusive reporting that the slayer, who police believe had gone dormant for 13 years, was killing again.
While local, national and international media were scrambling to catch up, the South Los Angeles community wanted to know why they hadn’t been notified even of the existence of the longest-operating serial killer west of the Mississippi, who has left the bodies of 10 women and one man almost exclusively along a section of Western Avenue.
Council Member Bernard Parks, whose district includes most of the 11 murder sites, held a press conference following our disclosures, asking L.A. City Council to offer a $500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Grim Sleeper, so dubbed by the Weekly. The Los Angeles Police Department soon followed, asking for the public’s help in finding the killer — whose saliva and DNA were recovered at several of the crime scenes. A tip line has garnered dozens of leads but no killer. Nor did a televised feature, prompted by the Weekly’s exclusive, on America’s Most Wanted on November 1.
We reported that the police were stymied by the fact that the Grim Sleeper’s DNA profile didn’t match any sample in the state-offender or federal crime databases. They were hoping a long-shot effort to identify the man through DNA “familial” testing would identify the killer’s family, and eventually lead police to the killer. The attempt to search the crime databases for the killer’s brother or father, whose DNA would appear similar to that of the anonymous Grim Sleeper’s, was the first known major use of the “familial DNA” method in investigating a crime. However, the long-awaited DNA test was a huge disappointment, failing to turn up any clues to the Grim Sleeper’s identity. The killer is still out there, somewhere in Los Angeles, and police are pursuing numerous avenues in hopes of catching him before he kills again. A profile of the Grim Sleeper, whose actions have prompted the creation of a Wikipedia page solely about him, and a Web site called grimsleeper.com, which chronicles his victims, are eerie reminders of an elusive murderer who kills with impunity.
From “Grim Sleeper: The Most Elusive Serial Kiler West of the Mississippi Took a 13-Year Break. Now He’s Back, Murdering Angelenos as Cops Hunt His DNA” by Christine Pelisek
Two key City Council members, who learned of the Grim Sleeper’s existence for the first time this week from the Weekly, had strong reactions.
Bernard Parks’ chief of staff and son, Bernard C. Parks Jr., whose district is ground zero in the killings, accused Chief Bratton of purposely keeping former Chief Parks in the dark. “Leaving us out of the loop about something so important boggles the mind,” Parks Jr. said…. Thanks to the extraordinarily poor diplomacy extended by the Villaraigosa administration and the LAPD brass to the victims’ mostly working-class black families, the Weekly was also the first to inform some families this month that the murders are known to be the work of one man.