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Grim Sleeper: For relatives of victims, it was a long wait for news of an arrest [Updated]


The killings occurred over three decades along the major boulevards of South Los Angeles. Individually, they didn't generate much attention.

Then, the Los Angeles Police Department concluded that the slayings of 10 women were the work of one killer. And this gave relatives of the victims new hope the cases might eventually be solved.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Police Department will hold its first press conference detailing the arrest on Wednesday of a suspect in the "Grim Sleeper" slayings. The families of many victims will be there to offer their thoughts on the arrest.

In interviews, some family members expressed joy that closure might finally come -- but it was joy mixed with anger because the suspect turned out to be a resident of the neighborhood, described by those who lived near him as a kind and generous neighbor.

The suspect is Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 57. Police said DNA evidence linked him to the killings.

Franklin is charged with 10 counts of murder in the deaths of Debra Jackson, 29; Henrietta Wright, 35; Barbara Ware, 23; Bernita Sparks, age unknown; Mary Lowe, 26; Lachrica Jefferson, 22; Alicia Alexander, 18; Princess Berthomieux, 15; Valerie McCorvey, 35; and Janecia Peters, 25. He also is charged with one count of attempted murder.

Relatives of the victims said there was a period of time when they lost faith in the system. But when the slayings continued and police concluded they were the work of a serial killer, the families said police redoubled their efforts. 

Alicia Monique Alexander, 18, was one of the Grim Sleeper's first victims, killed in 1988. Her brothers Donnell Alexander, 47, and Darin Alexander, 45, said they “never gave up hope. We were just hoping with all the new technology out now with DNA testing that they would get him. This brought us closer together. That’s the positive that came out of her death. Now we hug one other not just on special occasions but every day.”

“This won’t bring our sister back, but our heart goes out to all the families that were as affected,” Donnell Alexander said.

Franklin was a garage attendant at the LAPD's 77th Street Division station in the early 1980s, according to city and police sources. He worked as a garbage collector for the Los Angeles Department of Sanitation during the years that the first eight killings occurred. The string of slayings began with the death of Jackson on Aug. 10, 1985, and ended with the death of Alexander on Sept. 11, 1988.

Franklin has at least four prior convictions, two for felony possession of stolen property in 1993 and 2003, one for misdemeanor battery in 1997 and one for misdemeanor assault in 1999, according to court records. He was sentenced to a year in jail for the first stolen-property charge and 270 days for the second one.

Three years ago, Janecia LaVette Peters was found dead at Western Avenue near 92nd Street in South Los Angeles. She had been shot in the back and stuffed into a trash bag. She was considered the most recent victim of the Grim Sleeper serial killer.

Her aunt, Diane McQueen, 55, said the slaying shattered her family. "She was 25. It hit my family real hard. I had lost hope this day would come. I feel a lot of joy it did at last."

[Updated at 8:14 a.m.: Diana Ware, 71, the stepmother of Barbara Ware, who was killed two days after turning 23 years old in 1987, also was uplifted by the arrest.

“I hadn’t lost hope, but I got discouraged,” she said. “You get discouraged sometimes because it was taking a long time. But the detectives never gave up and kept in touch with us.”

On Wednesday, the call finally came. "The detective called me. He said, ‘Are you sitting down?' " Ware said. "I just yelled. I was so happy."]

-- Hector Becerra

Click to learn more about the Grim Sleeper's victims
Learn more about the Grim Sleeper's victims on The Times interactive Homicide Report map

Comments () | Archives (33)

Not really convinced that they have the right person, I would need to really see ALOT of evidence first......... ie( RAMPART) I would not like to see a conviction of an innocent person that LAPD would just set up just to get more stripes on their badges, the police are to shady and to quick to mislead the public, we should watch this case real close.

The police are just trying to hang another black man out to dry. You know its true.

Sure glad you aren't in charge of this case Kim. Rampart? You mean where officers made millions off the city for false charges and allegations?

Okay, here it comes... I can't help but think that if these victims were young "white" females from affluent area, we would have heard about these killings when they were actually happening. Not that that's the LAPD's fault. A media issue

This Guy must of had a White Guy inside trying his hardest to get out.

My hat is off for the continous efforts of the LAPD in finding & arresting the suspect in these brutal murders. I can only hope & pray that the case holds-up, and the DNA evidence are enought; so that the numerous victims & their families, can have some "peace & closure" in knowing that the suspect will not victimize any more of Gods Children, in this City of Angeles. GOD BlESS THEM & the LAPD!!

So, you think the police waited 25 years to frame someone?

I'm very skeptical of this arrest.The LAPD has a long history of racial problems.This smells like a set up to me.The media has never told the truth about anything.So lets be careful about whats being reported please

I don't think the LAPD will make this much media glitz unless they have a good level of surety on this. If this is really the killer then, this is really really great news indeed.

They have DNA evidence that links him to the killings. If that isn't enough proof, I don't know what is.

lets see 'dna'=ojsimpson, the glove dont fit you must aquit

OMG...you are all so pathetic....shady, cover-up, racism?
What miserable lives you all must lead to be so ignorant...
I'll pray for all of you.

Just another black man caught up in the mix

Its sad when somthing goes wrong or gets caught if they are black or hispanic its all about race. Look people if he killed someone then its not about race, gender, or color.

These comments are moronic!
They have DNA proof! What more do you want?

Good Job LAPD....more scumbags off the streets. Hope he gets the chair. DNA never lies hahaha

Am I the only one who noticed the correlation between the capture in this case and Jerry Brown??? It was Brown who initially approved the matching of "familiar" DNA which is what lead to this suspect's arrest. His DNA was linked from his son's - who is currently in custody.

Though they very well may have their man, the timing is a little too co-inky-dinky for me.

So the LA Times found photos of 12 murder victims from years gone by, but can't find a photo of their killer?

No, the cops have the photo & the LA Times has the photo, but they've declined to show us for fear we'd make negative associations of black men & violent crime.

A classic case of lefty, PC media bias.


So glad this case is finally getting the attention it deserves. For the families sake, I hope they are 100% sure that this man is the killer. I knew Valerie McCarey (they have it wrong, her name is McCarey, NOT McCorvey, or McCovey). Her mother babysat me and my siblings growing up; we lived in the same neighborhood. I remember seeing Val go through some hards times as a young adult, and thn she got herself together and seemed to be doing well.

I'm praying for justice for you Val; for you, and all the rest. May you all rest in peace!

Great Job LAPD. You have recieved a lot of flack in the past but I DO BELIEVE IN JUSTICE. I don't care about the color as much as I want to see justice done. This must come as a great relief to the families all these years. I know what you are going through. To the families that may have believed justice wasn't swift but through patience everything will work out. GOD BLESS THE FAMILIES, LAPD, AND THE LA TIMES.

Those who are paranoid about living in 'oppressive' L.A. could either become active and take to the streets with their fears - or they could move someplace else. If the entire U.S. is in on the widespread oppression, one could try Iraq, Afghanistan, maybe Lebanon, or Iran or Libya. I'd suggest North Korea but we KNOW the peoples are oppressed there - all of 'em. They don't discriminate, they control all their citizens.

The Mayor, when he was in State Assembly, voted against the establishment of this DNA data base--now he is the first one to extol it! What a political hack he is.

This new use of the technology will never stop these crimes but will help find perpetrators sooner. Maybe it's discovery should have been kept secret. Im sure it will put the scare in to some!

D N A samples dont lie

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