LOS ANGELES – On August 10, 2016, Lonnie Franklin Jr., 63, AKA the Grim Sleeper, the man who preyed on vulnerable young women for two decades, killing nine and a teenage girl, was sentenced to death. The sentence was handed down after more than 15 family members of victims addressed the court and talked about the anguish of losing their loved ones. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy pronounced the sentence which was recommended by a jury following a six month trial.
A jury in Los Angles convicted Franklin on May 5, 2016. The former mechanic was found guilty of killing nine women and a 15-year-old girl during a 22-year period from 1985 to 2007. Most of the victims were sexually assaulted and shot, some were strangled, all were dumped in back alleys or dumpsters in south Los Angeles.
The murders linked to the Grim Sleeper started in 1985. As far as investigators know, there was a break in the killings in the 90s, and the killer resumed his murderous acts the decade after that.
His arrest in 2010 was the result of familial DNA technology used by California Department of Justice (DOJ) criminalists at the Bureau of Forensics lab in Richmond. DOJ criminalists provided information to investigators, leading investigators to Franklin’s son, which then led them to Franklin. Following Franklin, they seized a piece of pizza crust he left behind at a restaurant. This was a case built on the science of DNA.
Below is a conversation by DOJ senior criminalists at the Richmond lab about familial DNA and the Grim Sleeper, that CSLEA first posted in February.
“Many crimes are solved and suspects identified by California DOJ criminalists,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “These are incredibly educated and smart individuals who use science to assist law enforcement in pursuit of criminal justice. Most of their work goes unnoticed, but the very work they did to help identify the Grim Sleeper suspect, is work they do every single day. In many instances there simply would be no case, no conviction, without them.”
“DNA is an extraordinarily powerful tool for solving crimes, and this is one of the more spectacular successes,” said Association of Criminalists-DOJ (AC-DOJ) President John Miller. “It’s really what familial searching is all about: cases where law enforcement has exhausted all its leads, and has nowhere else to turn. I’m really proud of all the DOJ criminalists involved in providing this tool to law enforcement.”