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US serial killer "The Grim Sleeper" faces death penalty

“He is a psychopathic, sadistic serial killer who takes joy in inflicting pain on women and killing them.”

Image: Apexchange

THE BODIES OF more than a dozen young women had been found in a rough section of Los Angeles for more than two decades before police acknowledged that the killings were the work of one man.

It would be two more years before the killer dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” was arrested and six more before he was convicted in May of murdering nine women and a teenage girl and attempting to kill another woman.

The long path to justice for Lonnie Franklin Jr leads to sentencing today in the courtroom where jurors decided he should die for his crimes. A judge is expected to impose the sentence.

Franklin, 63, a former rubbish collector and one-time garage attendant for the Los Angeles police, denied any role in the killings to police but didn’t utter a word in his defence during the lengthy trial.

Prosecutors connected him to the crimes through a web of evidence that included DNA, ballistics, photos and the words of the only known survivor, who managed to get away after being shot. A Polaroid photo of the partly nude woman bleeding from her wound was found in his garage after his arrest.

That’s him

Grim Sleeper Source: AP/Press Association Images

Nearly three decades after the attack, the survivor, Enietra Washington, pointed out her assailant in court, saying, “That’s the person who shot me.”

Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said Franklin’s motive was “doing evil,” his crimes were “degrading, calculated and brutal,” and they had irreversibly destroyed many lives.

“This defendant is completely irredeemable,” Silverman wrote in her sentencing brief.

“He is a psychopathic, sadistic serial killer who takes joy in inflicting pain on women and killing them.”

Franklin’s lawyers had suggested a “mystery man” was the real killer and asked jurors to spare his life.

Catching a killer

Grim Sleeper Killings The home of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. Source: AP/Press Association Images

He was convicted of killing seven women between 1985 and 1988 and a 15-year-old girl and two women between 2002 and 2007. Most of the victims were shot to death at close range, though two were strangled and two were both shot and choked.

The killer earned his moniker because of the apparent hiatus in the slayings, which police once theorised was due to being imprisoned or laying low.

Authorities now say they don’t think he ever rested and may have carried out far more than the 14 killings they outlined in court, which included the four deaths he wasn’t charged with committing.

Community members criticised police for not investigating the slayings because the victims were poor, black and some were prostitutes and drug users.

When a task force re-examined the old cases following a 2007 killing, DNA from Franklin’s son showed similarities to genetic evidence found on some of the victims.

A detective posing as a busboy at a pizza parlour collected utensils and crusts while Franklin was attending a birthday party. Lab results connected him to some of the bodies and led to his arrest.

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Associated Press

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