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Grim Sleeper: L.A. district attorney to seek death penalty

August 1, 2011 | 10:35 am

Click here to learn more about the Grim Sleeper killings. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Monday it would seek the death penalty against Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the suspected Grim Sleeper who is accused of murder in the deaths of 10 women in South L.A.

Franklin, 57, was arrested in July 2010 at his South L.A. home and charged with murder in the slayings 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.

PHOTOS: Identities of mystery women sought

He is also charged with one count of attempted murder, apparently stemming from the assault of the only Grim Sleeper victim known to have survived.

Los Angeles police said in April that Franklin may have killed eight additional women, including three whose photos and identification cards were found in a refrigerator in Franklin's garage.

MAP: Grim Sleeper killings, 1985-2007

The killer was dubbed the Grim Sleeper by the L.A. Weekly newspaper because of what appeared to be a period of inactivity separating the killings. But police were skeptical of the idea that the slayings had actually stopped during a supposed 13-year gap.

Of the eight new cases police are now investigating, two of them involve women who disappeared during the 13-year period. A third went missing in 1982, before the first of the 10 known killings.

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, photos of Morris and her Nevada driver's license, 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, and one photo 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 refuses to talk to them.

No physical evidence implicates Franklin in any wrongdoing related to the eight additional women.

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.

Franklin worked as a garbage collector for the Los Angeles Department of Sanitation during the years that the first eight killings occurred, beginning with the death of Jackson on Aug. 10, 1985, and ending with the death of Alexander on Sept. 11, 1988.


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Photo: Police Chief Charlie Beck, left, and LAPD Det. Dennis Kilcoyne at a news conference in April on the Grim Sleeper case. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times