More than thirty years after the slayings of the first victims, the case of the man known as the notorious Grim Sleeper has gone on trial in Los Angeles.
The case involves 10 murders of women (one girl and nine women) between the ages 15 to 35 at the hands of Lonnie Franklin, a former garbage collector and police garage attendant. The killings occurred between the years of 1985 and 2007. The serial killer got the name “Grim Sleeper” because of the gap of 13 years between the killings.
As reported by CNN, Franklin, who the neighbors described as friendly and reliable, has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him. His lawyer, Seymour Amster, said, “All I can say is stayed tuned.” Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman, the lead prosecutor, said that trial could go on for two of three months.
The killings began in the 1980s, during the crack cocaine epidemic. The prosecutor said that the victims, after they were murdered, were taken to alleys and dumped in trash bins. Their bodies were covered by garbage. All victims were either shot or strangled.
Silverman, in her opening statement, said, “Most of them were in various states of undress. Some were missing their bras. … Some were missing their underwear.” While the bodies were “Jane Does” when they were first discovered, they were later identified by their relatives. “All tested positive for cocaine, except one,” Silverman said.
There were as many as three serial killers in south Los Angeles during the time. Chester Turner, who was given the death penalty in 2007, was arrested for 14 murders of women. Michael Hughes was arrested for the killings of seven people and was thereby given the death sentence in 2012.
According to the Independent, the Grim Sleeper killings were investigated in the 1980s by more than two dozen detectives. However, it wasn’t until the emergence of DNA evidence that new leads came up. It was upon the arrest of Franklin’s son, Christopher Franklin, on firearm and drug charges that his DNA proved a match to those found on several of the victims.
Franklin faces 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.