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Grim Sleeper: Detectives look at 30 additional unsolved killings

July 8, 2010 |  4:37 pm

Los Angeles police detectives are re-examining at least 30 unsolved killings of women in South Los Angeles to see if they can link the homicides to the man accused of being the Grim Sleeper serial killer.

LAPD sources told The Times that the 30 cases share similarities to the slayings linked to Lonnie David Franklin Jr., who appeared briefly in court Thursday charged with 10 counts of murder involving women killed over parts of three decades in South L.A.

Some – but not all – of the victims in the unsolved cases lived on the margins of society, including drug users, prostitutes and the mentally ill. Officials suspect that Franklin may be responsible for more homicides because of a lengthy, unaccounted-for gap in the Grim Sleeper killings.

Franklin allegedly killed seven women between 1985 and 1988, when the crimes abruptly stopped. The homicides resumed in 2002, with a killing that year, another in 2003 and a third in 2007, police said.

“I believe we will find additional victims,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, calling the gap in slayings “one of the troubling aspects of the case.”

Detectives have spent the last two days scouring Franklin's home, collecting photo albums, documents, business cards and other records that they hope can provide a better picture of the suspect and perhaps provide links to other victims.

In addition, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is examining unsolved killings in parts of the South L.A. area that it patrols, searching for links to Franklin. Officials acknowledge that tying more cases to Franklin could be challenging.

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 information from DNA databases. Many of the cases are three decades old and occurred during a period when several serial killers were allegedly on the loose in South L.A.

In addition to focusing on the apparent hiatus in the Grim Sleeper homicides, detectives are trying to determine whether the killer might have started his crimes earlier than police previously believed.

“Now that we know who he is, we can get out and show his picture and talk to neighbors, co-workers, friends,” said Det.Dennis Kilcoyne, who heads a task force that is investigating the killings.

-- Jack Leonard, Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton

Photo: Investigators remove items from the home of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. on Wednesday. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times  

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