'Grim Sleeper' may not have been sleeping, say LAPD officials probing serial killings [Updated]
Los Angeles police detectives on Thursday said they have growing doubts that there was a 13-year gap in the killing spree of the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer, announcing that they have linked two more slayings to the suspect in the case and that those slayings took place during the supposed dormant period.
The "Grim Sleeper" got his moniker because he allegedly killed seven South L.A. women between 1985 and 1988 before appearing to abruptly stop. Police said the killings resumed in 2002, with a killing that year, another in 2003 and a third in 2007.
Detectives said they have now connected the suspect, Lonnie Franklin Jr., to two more killings. Officials declined to provide details about the crimes but said the first occurred in the 1980s, after a 1988 killing tied to Franklin, and the second occurred in the early 1990s. Both involved women slain in the South L.A. area. Franklin has not been charged with these new killings and has pleaded not guilty to killing 10 people.
"I don't think there is a gap," said LAPD Det. Dennis Kilcoyne, who has been leading the investigation. "We are continuing to examine many, many old cases now we know Mr. Franklin's identity. We are trying to put together other cases."
[Updated at 2 p.m.: Clarifying an earlier statement, Kilcoyne said that the first of the two new slayings police are investigating occurred in the 1980s, after a 1988 killing tied to Franklin, and the second occurred in the early 1990s.]
After Franklin was charged in July, the LAPD said it was reviewing about 30 unsolved killings to see if any of them could be connected to the Grim Sleeper. Detectives also released approximately 180 still photos found at Franklin's home in hopes that they could yield more clues.
Investigators have identified 72 women who contacted authorities after their photographs were released, but 62 of the women remain unidentified. Kilcoyne said he expects the search for additional Grim Sleeper victims to continue for several more years and that he would not be surprised if the so-called gap in killings completely closes.
"It's obvious we are far from knowing the true depths of the criminality of Mr. Franklin," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said. "When this case unravels, people will be even more horrified about what's occurred. We have been putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but the picture is not anywhere near complete. It's just too early to tell."
-- Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton
Photo: Reverend Dr. Kelvin Calloway leaves a message on photographs set up as a memorial for 10 of the victims of the serial killer dubbed the "Grim Sleeper." Credit: Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images