Police release 180-photo trove from 'Grim Sleeper' suspect [Updated]
In a bold effort to determine whether there are additional "Grim Sleeper" victims, the Los Angeles Police Department is releasing photos of scores of women found in the possession of a man charged in 10 South Los Angeles killings.
Police hope the photo display will generate new tips from the public. Since the July arrest of Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the LAPD has received 75 calls from the family and friends of missing women wanting to know the fate of their loved ones.
After comparing information in those calls with evidence gathered in the Franklin investigation, detectives were soon able to discount most of the cases, said veteran homicide Det. Dennis Kilcoyne, head of the task force that tracked down the former city sanitation worker and police garage attendant. But Kilcoyne said investigators were taking a hard look at information generated by a handful of those contacts.
This is not the first time Southern California law enforcement has employed the tactic to help deal with serial killings. Last year, the Huntington Beach Police Department made public photos of women taken by accused serial killer Rodney Alcala. In 2006, the L.A. Sheriff's Department released the photos of 50 women taken by another accused killer, Bill Bradford.
In the Grim Sleeper case, any public tips will come on top of 30 cases that police investigators already are reviewing because they share similarities to the slayings in which Franklin is accused. Franklin has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
There is no DNA evidence in any of the 30 cases, which is significant because authorities said they tied Franklin to some of the 10 killings based on a combination of DNA and ballistics evidence. Many of the cases are three decades old and occurred during a period when several serial killers were allegedly operating in South Los Angeles.
Franklin allegedly killed seven women between 1985 and 1988, then his alleged crimes seemed to come to an abrupt stop, authorities said. The slayings resumed in 2002, with a killing that year, another in 2003 and a third in 2007, police said.
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.
During the search of Franklin's South Los Angeles home, detectives collected photo albums, documents, business cards and other records that they hoped could give them a better picture of the suspect and perhaps provide links to other victims.
One of the more troubling discoveries was nearly 1,000 still photographs and hundreds of hours of home video showing women, almost all of them partly or completely nude and striking sexually graphic poses.
LAPD officials said that after months of trying to identify the women, they decided to go public with the images of about 160 women in the hope that they, family or acquaintances will recognize the pictures and contact investigators. They released 180 images, some of which show the same women.
[Corrected at 1:50 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said the police released images of 180 women.]
"There's going to be a lot of speculation about the condition of some of the women in these photographs," Kilcoyne told The Times on Wednesday. “Right now, I don't know the answer."
Learn more about the Grim Sleeper's known victims on The Times interactive Homicide Report
Photo: Credit: LAPD