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By Christine Emerson
Observer Staff Writer 

"Grim Sleeper" Serial Killer Sentenced to Death

Lonnie Franklin Unlikely to actually be put to death, since California put a hold on the death penalty


August 15, 2016

"Grim Sleeper" Serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr. is sentenced to death

On Wednesday, the so-called "Grim Sleeper" serial killer, was sentenced to death by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy. The sentence followed a 6-month jury trial for former city sanitation worker Lonnie Franklin, Jr, 63. In her sentence, Kennedy agreed with the jury's June recommendation of the death penalty.

Franklin was convicted on May 5 of all 10 counts of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of multiple murders. He is believed responsible for the gruesome murders of at least nine women and one teenage girl over a 22-year period, from 1985 to 2007. Prosecutors presented evidence during the penalty phase that suggest he could be responsible for an additional five killings. In the course of the trial, a German woman testified that Franklin and two other U.S. Army men kidnapped and raped her in Stuttgart in 1974. Prosecutors believe Franklin may be ultimately responsible for the murders of up to 25 women.

Investigation of the serial murders was hampered for years for a variety of reasons. The victims, frequently culled from drug addicts and prostitutes, were all initially unidentified, making it less obvious that the crimes were connected. In addition, several other serial killers were operating during the same time period in the late 80s, such as Michael Hughes (convicted of 7 murders) and Chester Turner (convicted of 14 murders). Some blamed the police for simply lacking motivation to find the killer of young black women in South Los Angeles.

"Grim Sleeper" Serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr. is sentenced to death

Franklin reportedly remained unmoved during the verdict and entire trial. The moniker "Grim Sleeper" was attached to his persona because the police believed he'd gone inactive between 1988 and 2002. Now, however, prosecutors do not believe he ever stopped killing.

At his house, investigators discovered more than 1,000 photos and hundreds of hours of videos of women, many nude and in sexually graphic poses, some appearing to be unconscious. A high school ID card of one victim, the driver's license of another, along with other morbid items were stuffed inside his garage refrigerator. Franklin's victims were often dumped naked or in humiliating positions along roadsides or in dumpsters.

Franklin was arrested on July 7, 2010 by the Los Angeles Police Department.


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