Lonnie David Franklin Jr., known as the Grim Sleeper, preyed on women living in Los Angeles. But what made him truly unique was his 14-year break from killing, which is how he gained his nickname.
Franklin killed at least nine women and one teenage girl in Los Angeles between the years of 1985 and 2007, but he is suspected of many more. If it wasn't for the work of one intrepid journalist determined to crack the case, he might've never been caught. He was a smart, calculated killer who preyed on the weak and kept an extremely low profile. The terrifying details of his horrific crimes are sure to send a shiver down your spine and make Franklin one of the most prolific killers of modern history.
Police Used Familial DNA Results To Find Him
Police had such a hard time finding the man behind the Grim Sleeper killings, they decided to use familial DNA. Investigators had their lab technicians take the DNA evidence found on the Grim Sleeper victims and run it against any close family matches in the criminal database. If the Grim Sleeper had a son, brother, or other blood-related family member in the DNA database, then they would get a positive result and be able to narrow down the list of suspects.
It worked - Franklin's son had been arrested for a felony weapons charge in the past. Through this DNA match, they eventually pegged Franklin for the crimes.
A Journalist Would Not Let The Case Go - And Helped Bring Franklin To Justice
The LAPD started a task force to find the Grim Sleeper in 2007 - partly thanks to the reporting of one LA Weekly journalist. Christine Pelisek was working for the newspaper when she started noticing a pattern of Black women being murdered with no arrest. She compiled a database of all the victims and wrote a story about it.
Many of the Grim Sleeper's victims had not been connected to a serial killer. It was Pelisek who coined the nickname "Grim Sleeper" in her articles.
He Was Sentenced To Death For His Crimes
In August 2016, Franklin received the death penalty for 10 murders he conducted between the years of 1985 and 2007. Several of the victims' relatives confronted him in court.
He is now on California's death row for the murders of Debra Jackson, Henrietta Wright, Barbara Ware, Bernita Sparks, Mary Lowe, Lachrica Jefferson, Alicia Alexander, Princess Berthomieux, Valerie McCorvey, and Janecia Peters.