Arraignment has been pushed up to 10 a.m., today, for Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the suspect in the “Grim Sleeper” killings. He is charged with 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for his alleged involvement as the elusive “Grim Sleeper” serial murderer.
Franklin, 57, was arrested in front of his home in the 1700 block of West 81st Street, police said. The “Grim Sleeper” has been linked to 11 murders, mostly in South Los Angeles.
The murder charges include the special-circumstance allegation of multiple murders, possibly making Franklin eligible for the death penalty.
“We never gave up on this investigation, not for one minute,” Beck said. “Our detectives worked relentlessly following up on every lead they received. Their hard work has resulted in today’s apprehension of this vicious killer.
“I am hopeful that the hard work of these men and women will bring some closure to the families who tragically lost loved ones during the last 23 years,” he said.
Los Angeles Police Department Detective Dennis Kilcoyne said earlier the serial killer was linked by forensic evidence to eight murders between 1985- 88, and three murders between 2001-07.
He was dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” because of the 13-year break between killing sprees. The Los Angeles Times quoted a neighbor who said Franklin was a retired trash collector, and the gap between killings corresponded with a time he was on disability. Neighbors told City News Service the man once worked as a mechanic for the LAPD, and his estranged wife may have also worked for the department.
All but one of the killer’s victims was a woman, and many were prostitutes. Some were raped before being shot to death with a small-caliber handgun. Their bodies were dumped in alleys and trash bins in South Los Angeles, Inglewood and unincorporated county areas.
A woman who survived an attack in 1988 described the suspect as a black man in his 20s, driving an orange Ford Pinto. She said he picked her up, shot her in the chest, raped her, then pushed her out of his car.
“This (arrest) was accomplished by the LAPD’s hard work with great assistance from the California Department of Justice Division of Law Enforcement personnel,” District Attorney Steve Cooley said.
A $500,000 reward had been offered by the Los Angeles City Council for information leading to the arrest of the killer. It was unclear if anyone would be eligible for the reward.
Outside the suspect’s home, a 41-year-old neighbor wept, saying she knew Franklin well. The woman, who would not give her name, said Franklin is “a nice, friendly person” who worked on cars at his home.
“I could’ve been a victim. I sat in his camper many times,” she said.
The woman said she often watched movies with Franklin, noting that he liked comedies. She said he “was a cool, helpful person.”
“Serial killers come in all shapes and sizes,” she said.
The woman said the man had been married, although she never saw his wife, and he “always had the grandkids over.”
Other neighbors said Franklin was known as the neighborhood mechanic, fixing vehicles for many people in the area.
Cynthia Banks, 41, said Franklin had just worked on her car, charging her $15 for a 10-minute repair job.
“He was a wonderful guy — that I know of,” Banks said.
She said she was “shocked” at the arrest.
Another woman, 21-year-old Barbara Huggins, said she had been planning to take her Honda to Franklin today for some repair work.
“When I heard about this, I was shaking,” said Huggins, who described Franklin as “sweet.”
“My co-workers were telling me my mechanic is a killer,” she said.
Cooley told The Times that investigators were led to Franklin by using “familiar” DNA searching, a process that allows police to pursue partial genetic matches to crime scene evidence. Sources told The Times that a suspect in prison showed a strong familial match to DNA collected at some of the Grim Sleeper crime scenes.
The prisoner, however, was too young to have committed the earlier murders, but questioning him led detectives to his father — Franklin, sources told The Times. Cooley told the paper that investigators used a piece of discarded pizza with Franklin’s DNA to connect him to the crimes.
Some neighbors who gathered near Franklin’s home contended that one of Franklin’s nephews led police to him. Others also claimed that investigators were recovering body parts from Franklin’s home, but police would not confirm those reports. A detective at the scene noted that rumors were running rampant among the neighbors.