Accused ‘Grim Sleeper’ suspected in more deaths

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A retired sanitation worker accused of murdering 10 women and girls who has been dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” may have killed eight additional victims, police said on Tuesday.

Police officials said there may be even more victims of Lonnie David Franklin Jr, 58, who allegedly targeted black women and girls in south Los Angeles in a string of killings that began in the 1980s.

Investigators said they were not free to release new information about the other eight potential victims until now.

That is because prosecutors wanted Franklin brought to court first on Monday, to face an indictment for the 10 other murders and one attempted murder.

Police have no immediate plans to charge Franklin with the murder of the eight additional potential victims.

“I would doubt it,” said Los Angeles police detective Dennis Kilcoyne. “Because that would be like starting over again with the wheel of justice that’s slowly turning right now on Mr. Franklin, and we don’t want to create that problem with the court system.”

Police Chief Charlie Beck added most of the women’s bodies have not been found, which makes it harder to prosecute.

But police did find the body of one of the women — Inez Warren, who was shot in 1988 and dumped in an alley.

Police believe she may have been one of Franklin’s victims because of the part of the city she was discovered in, the down-and-out life of prostitution and narcotics she shared with other “Grim Sleeper” victims and the time of her killing.

But Kilcoyne admitted police have no ballistic evidence in Warren’s case, because the bullet passed through her chest.

Six more of the other potential victims of Franklin are women who went missing between 1982 and 2005, and whose bodies have never been found.

Franklin had in his possession ID cards for two of them.

The eighth potential victim is a woman whose photo was released in December, when police posted online a trove of 180 pictures that had been in Franklin’s possession, in the hopes of identifying them and finding additional victims.

That woman is still unidentified, but her photo was found in a special collection Franklin kept in a fridge which also had the picture of his most recent alleged murder victim, whose body was discovered in 2007, Kilcoyne said.

Fifty-five of the women depicted in the photographs police released in December have not been identified, and Kilcoyne said there may be additional victims in that group.

Franklin, a retired sanitation worker and auto mechanic, was arrested last year after police took a DNA sample from his son, in an unrelated case, and found it closely resembled DNA evidence recovered in the “Grim Sleeper” murders.

At first, it appeared the serial killer had taken a nearly 14-year hiatus between 1988 and 2002, prompting the L.A. Weekly newspaper to tag him the “Grim Sleeper.” But police now believe he did not take that long a break.

“I think we’re going to start filling in that gap,” Kilcoyne said.

In fact, three of the women police identified on Tuesday as potential victims went missing between 1988 and 2002, during what was once thought to be the gap between killings.

(Editing by Greg McCune)

Accused ‘Grim Sleeper’ suspected in more deaths