LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11) - You may not know the name Lonnie Franklin Junior, but you certainly are familiar with his sinister nickname, "The Grim Sleeper."
He’s now sitting on death row in San Quentin, sentenced to death for a series of murders that investigators believe began in 1988 and ended in 2002.
The nickname, "The Grim Sleeper," was given to him by an enterprising crime reporter named Christine Pelisek and her team at the LA Weekly. It was chosen because the former L.A. City Sanitation worker apparently took a long break during his killing spree.
In this edition of KTTV 70, Pelisek explains why these murders of African American women in South L.A. didn’t get as much attention as perhaps they should’ve initially. We also hear from a veteran Los Angeles Police Department Homicide detective who grew up around the corner from Franklin, worked the killings for years and helped solve the case that ended in multiple convictions and the death sentence.
The case was complex, law enforcement initially faced many challenges trying to identify Franklin as a suspect. They were eventually able to identify him using new technology known as "familial DNA." After years of legal delays, the families of the victims finally got some measure of justice.
Authorities said there are still dozens of women whose photos were found in Franklin’s house after he was arrested. Those women have never been identified. Investigators are still working to determine if they are additional victims.