Updated after the jump: No. 119 has been identified as Janecia Peters (pictured, right) — one of the Sleeper's known victims. Does this mean he could have killed others in the anonymous 180?
Update, Dec. 16, 10:15 p.m.: Kevin McClure, commanding officer of LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division, just announced on Fox News that police immediately began receiving a flood of calls after the photos were released — many of them positive, aka, “That's me!”
Updated after the jump, 1 p.m.: Photos released!
Update, 10 a.m.: The Los Angeles Times finally name-drops the Weekly. About time. Originally posted at 9:40 a.m.
Meet Christine Pelisek, crime-thirsty journalist who revealed (and named) at-large serial killer the Grim Sleeper via LA Weekly in August 2008 (shout out!). Because her investigation was so stupid amazing, national Internet rag the Daily Beast stole her away from us. We are still very bitter. But also proud, of course.
And most of all just jazzed to read her always-exclusive scoops —
This time, on the 180 photos and loads of video footage LAPD detectives found in Lonnie Franklin Jr.'s “modest mint-green home” since his arrest:
Many are of women and teenage girls, who police believe may be additional victims to the Grim Sleeper's recorded 11.
Pelisek spoke with Enietra Washington, sole surviving victim of Franklin's psychotic rampage. Washington, alongside family members of other victims, was invited to view the photos yesterday, prior to their release for public viewing at 1 p.m. today. (We'll post many of them here, so check back. Or go straight to the source at lapdonline.org).
Some of the pictures, which were taken by the 57-year-old Franklin before his arrest in July, show women who range from teenagers to women in their 60s, exposing their breasts or fully nude.
… [They] also viewed what may be the alleged killer's grisly trophies – bracelets, rings, earrings, watches, and necklaces confiscated from the Franklin home.
The photographs were taken in cars, in Franklin's motor home and in his backyard garage.
“We have no idea who the women are, what their circumstances are,” or if they are still alive, says Kilcoyne.
Some photographs show women who look like they may be asleep, unconscious or dead.
“Some of them [are] in his car and their eyes are closed,” says Washington. “Some of them look dead, if you ask me.”
Pelisek originally called Franklin a “sleeper” because of a roughly 14-year gap between recorded homicides. Could this perhaps be proof he never slept at all?
Update: As long as we're tooting our own horn this morning, we'd like to report that after a long, bitter drought of Los Angeles Times stinge when it came to mentioning a story was broken by the Weekly, the news blog seems to be making nice this morning (Notice how we linked to you, right there? Eh?):
The L.A. Weekly dubbed the killer the Grim Sleeper because of the lengthy, unaccounted-for gap in the slayings. But officials have said repeatedly that they suspect Franklin may be responsible for more homicides, including during the apparent lull.
Oh wait — they only mentioned us because they're hoping we were wrong about the “sleeper” thing. Truce officially rescinded.
Update: A press conference was just hosted by Chief Charlie Beck at the LAPD admin building. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and District Attorney Steve Cooley were there as well.
“These people are not suspects,'' Beck said. “We don't even know if they're victims.”
He added that the images — taken from Polaroids, video stills and undeveloped negatives — are 20 to 30 years old, and the people in them will have aged accordingly.
Here they are [beware: 9.1 megabytes]. They're also posted on the next few pages of this article. If you recognize anybody:
Call1-877-LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may contact Crimestoppers by texting the number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.
Update, Dec. 17, 4:30 p.m.: Pelisek is watching this thing like a cop. She reports from the Daily Beast that No. 119 in the set is actually Janecia Peters, one of the original 11 known victims. “Police believe the color photographs, most of which are pictures of women and teenage girls, may be even more victims of the alleged killer,” she writes.
Peters' sister, Shamika Smith, tells Pelisek:
“119 is her,” says Smith. “I recognize her face. There was no doubt in anyone's mind he killed her.”
A homeless man collecting cans from a Dumpster off Western Avenue discovered the lifeless nude body of Peters near a discarded Christmas tree on January 1, 2007. She'd been stuffed in a black garbage bag wrapped tightly with a twist tie.
Meanwhile, the Times is playing its own game of Sherlock and picking through the photos one by one with a lot of help from Google Street View. Meanwhile, ABC reports that five women have been identified by name (three or four of whom phoned in themselves), but police say follow-up interviews are necessary.