Grim Sleeper case: Refrigerator could hold clues to more victims
A refrigerator could lead to more victims of the Grim Sleeper serial killer.
Los Angeles Police announced Tuesday that they believe Lonnie Franklin Jr., already indicted in 10 slayings of women, may have killed eight additional women, including three whose photos and identification cards were found in a refrigerator in Franklin's garage.
Franklin is accused of killing seven women between 1985 and 1988 and three between 2002 and 2007, earning him the Grim Sleeper moniker from the L.A. Weekly newspaper because of what appeared to be a period of inactivity separating the killings. Throughout the investigation, however, police have been openly skeptical of the idea that the slayings stopped during the 13-year gap.
Of the eight new cases police are now investigating, two of them disappeared during the 13-year period. A third went missing in 1982, before the first of the 10 known killings.
And three are of particular concern: Ayellah Marshall, a high school senior when she disappeared in 2005; Rolenia Morris, a 25-year-old who also was reported missing in 2005; and an unidentified woman whose photograph was found at Franklin's residence when he was arrested.
Police discovered Marshall's Hawthorne High School identification card, Morris' Nevada driver license and photos of Morris in "compromising positions" and a photo of the unidentified woman in a refrigerator in Franklin's garage, said LAPD Det. Dennis Kilcoyne, who heads the investigation into Franklin.
In the refrigerator police also found photos of Janecia Peters, one of the 10 women Franklin is accused of killing, as well as a photograph of another person, but that one was too dark to be of any use in the investigation.
Kilcoyne said investigators fear the cache of items and images found in the refrigerator was of special significance to Franklin, because he kept it separate from photographs of scores of other women found elsewhere in his residence, which he shared with his wife. Police have said Franklin's wife has refused to talk to them.
"We hope for the best," he said. "We wish nothing more than to find them alive and well, but the circumstances are gloomy."
No physical evidence implicates Franklin in any wrongdoing related to the eight additional women. By going public, police said, they are hoping people with information about the women will come forward either to eliminate them as potential victims or help confirm the detectives' fears.
-- Joel Rubin
Photo: LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, left, and Los Angeles Police Department Det. Dennis Kilcoyne hold a press conference Tuesday to provide new information in the Grim Sleeper case. Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times