The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

LAPD Needs Your Help to Identify Possible 'Grim Sleeper' Victims

The Los Angeles Police Department needs your help. Lonnie David Franklin, 60, is suspected of killing over a dozen women in the 1980s and 2000s. After weeding through photos of about 160 unidentified women, only forty-two remain. Police fear that some of them may be additional victims, of the killer known as the Grim Sleeper reports the Los Angeles Times.

These photos have now been released on Facebook, Twitter, and the LAPD’s own site. They are hoping that the Internet and social media campaign will help to identify victims and provide closure to families.

The photos are available here. Be forewarned, some photos may be disturbing.

Franklin’s killing spree allegedly began in 1985. After eight known murders and one attempted murder, he vanished. Police eventually used ballistics to link the victims to a single killer, but otherwise made little progress. The case went cold and the files were transferred to storage.

Once DNA analysis became a feasible investigative tool, the physical evidence was eventually reanalyzed and tied to two murders in the early 2000s. Apparently, the Grim Sleeper had awoken. A local weekly paper, the L.A. Weekly, broke the story to the community. Many of the victims’ families were unaware that their daughters and sisters were victims of a serial killer.

Unfortunately for investigators, the Grim Sleeper’s DNA did not match anyone in the state’s Felon DNA databank. Eventually, a familial DNA match was found. These tests can identify a family member of a DNA profile due to matching markers. This allows the police to narrow their search, though it is not accurate enough to convict someone.

The match was to Franklin’s son, who was arrested on a felony charge in 2009. Officers posed as waiters at a restaurant and tested saliva left by Lonnie David Franklin on a piece of discarded pizza crust, reports the Los Angeles Times. He was arrested on July 7, 2010. They found hundreds of photos of unidentified women in his possession.

Late last year, the LAPD announced that six additional victims had been identified based on the photos and that 48 individuals remained unidentified, reports Reuters. That list is now down to the remaining forty-two.

If you have any information, you can contact the LAPD at 1-877-LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). You can also text Crimestoppers by texting the number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

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