LAPD seeks community’s help to identify Grim Sleeper pictures

The mood was somber at the Bethel AME Church in South Los Angeles on Wednesday evening.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and councilmember of district 8 Bernard Parks hosted a community meeting to inform the public of the latest developments on the “Grim Sleeper” serial killer case. Lonnie Franklin Jr., the alleged “Grim Sleeper,” was arrested last year and is accused of murdering 10 South Los Angeles men and women between 1985 and 2007. He also stands accused of one attempted murder charge.


Chief Beck provided information on six new women that they believe Franklin also murdered. One more attempted murder victim has also been identified. The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was beaten and left for dead. She is one of only two of the Grim Sleeper’s victims who has lived to identify him. Chief Beck calculated that there are 18 cases against Franklin – 16 murders and two attempted murders. Even though LAPD has evidence that Franklin could have murdered these six missing women, they will not add additional charges so that the case can go to court more quickly. The six South LA women’s photos are featured below.

Photo courtesy of LAPD

On Wednesday evening, the LAPD also launched new fliers online with pictures found in Franklin’s residence. The photographs were found after lengthy searches through Franklin’s computer, memory cards, and photographs. There was a total of 180 photographs that were previously identified but, in an unprecedented move, the pictures were shared with the community to help identify the women. Detective Dennis Kilcoyne said, “Much to our happiness, 99 percent of them were alive and well. Most of them didn’t want to become public.” He continued, “They proved to us who they were and that they had done some stupid things way back when in their lives when they crossed paths with Mr. Franklin. They didn’t want to revisit it publicly.”

Still, 48 of the 180 photographs that have yet to be identified.

Chief Beck stated, “Those photos mean something… there are victims’ faces in those photos. We need to identify as many more as we can.” Detective Kilcoyne told the community, “We’re coming to you for help.” The detectives are concerned for the women’s well-being and are ensure of whether they’re still alive.

Photo courtesy of LAPD

The posters can be found at the LAPD website.

Chief Beck said that he is doubtful that Franklin will ever identify these women himself.

But that doesn’t mean that the detectives are giving up hope in identifying the women themselves. They have partnered with Hawthorne, Gardena, Inglewood, the sheriff’s department, and the Department of Justice to help solve missing persons files and cold cases that may be tied to Franklin’s 26-year criminal spree. Detective Kilcoyne stated that investigators “were trying things that had never been tried before investigating cases in this country.” One effort in particular that Kilcoyne called “unorthodox” was the use of “familial DNA” to use a “backwards family tree” linking Franklin’s son to him and ultimately leading to Franklin’s arrest in July 2010.

Even though detectives are trying “unorthodox” procedures to solve possible Grim Sleeper cases, some more obvious methods to seek help may have been ignored. A member of the Southern California Cease Fire Committee, a group of gang intervention workers and business right advocates, asked whether women in prison had been asked to identify the photographs. Chief Beck looked surprised and said no, saying, “I don’t know why my guys couldn’t think of that earlier.”

In addition, another woman asked whether the photos were shared on Facebook. Chief Beck also replied that this had not be done yet.


Informational posters were on display at the meeting

CD8 member, and former LAPD Chief of Police, Bernard Parks spoke to the community and called the Grim Sleeper’s murder spree “a horror in our community.” Parks led a number of unprecedented movements to help catch the Grim Sleeper and identify his victims. He consistently publicized a $500,000 reward for information leading to the Grim Sleeper’s capture and partnered with Clear Channel in creating billboards with information about the murders. In 2001, Parks succeeded in establishing the nation’s first Cold Case Unit, which proved invaluable in leading to Franklin’s arrest in July 2010. Parks vowed that he would continue to work with the LAPD and Chief Beck in identifying the 48 photographs that were publicized that night.


Chief Beck commended the community for helping investigators take 180 previously unidentified photographs found in Franklin’s residence and whittling the number to now 48 unidentified photos. Chief Beck said, “This community and this police department never gave up on those victims. Never. And we never will.”


Despite their best efforts, Chief Beck said, “We may never how many men and women Lonnie Franklin killed. But we’re going to do our best to find out.” Looking at the victims’ families sitting on one side of the church, Beck continued, “We can never get closure. We can never right completely the wrong that has been done not only to these families but to this community.”

LaVerne Peters, mother of Janecia Peters, one of Franklin’s victims found murdered on January 1, 2007, wondered if her daughter had been the last of Franklin’s victims. Chief Beck replied that they didn’t think there were any more victims after Peters but said, “We cannot shut the door to possibilities until July of 2010 when we had him in custody.” Franklin returned to Los Angeles on May 7, 1976 after serving in the Army and being stationed in Europe. Investigators are also not discounting the possibility that Franklin committed crimes while overseas. Chief Beck said May 1976 is what they consider the starting point of investigating Jane Does, cold cases, and missing persons’ files that may be linked to Franklin. Their timeline ends in July 2010, when Franklin was finally arrested.

Diane McQueen, the aunt of Janecia Peters, said, “I’ve been in this neighborhood for 12 years. This man has been around me all these years while he was killing these girls.” McQueen expressed her disbelief about possibly coming face to face with her niece’s killer during her everyday life. “I could have seen him in stores and markets. He looks like everyday people. You never know who you’re facing.”

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