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'Grim Sleeper' Trial: Jury Finds Los Angeles Man Guilty On 10 Counts Of Murder

On Thursday, a Los Angeles jury found Lonnie Franklin Jr. guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder.
Mark Boster
On Thursday, a Los Angeles jury found Lonnie Franklin Jr. guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder.

In the case of the infamous serial killer dubbed the "Grim Sleeper," a Los Angeles jury has found Lonnie Franklin Jr. guilty of killing nine women and one teenage girl over the course of more than 20 years, from the 1980s to the early 2000s.

The verdict brings a measure of closure to the decades-long horror story that featured a killer who targeted mostly poor, black women, some of whom were prostitutes; a police force that was accused of not doing everything it could to protect the community; and the possibility that dozens or even hundreds of other women may have also been murdered by Franklin.

NPR's Kirk Siegler reported that "Franklin sat silently, staring straight ahead," as the clerk read guilty verdict after guilty verdict. Siegler tweeted that the family and friends of victims "quietly wept" in the courtroom.

Prosecutors have spent more than two months laying out the case against Franklin. During closing arguments earlier this week, Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told the jury that the case against Franklin is "not a close call," according to NPR member station KPCC. The station adds:

"Prosecutors pointed to a pattern: In multiple murders, Franklin allegedly picked up women who were on the streets using drugs or prostituting, sexually assaulted them, shot them at an angle from the driver's seat, and dumped them in an alley and covered them up with mattresses, debris, or trash cans. Two of the victims were strangled to death."

The verdict in the case of the Grim Sleeper had been years in the making. Los Angeles police arrested Franklin in 2010 after DNA from Franklin's incarcerated son led authorities to Franklin himself, as the Two-Way reported.

Family members of some of the victims believe that because Franklin mostly targeted poor, black women, the police did not do all they could to catch him and warn the community of his patterns.

As Kirk reported earlier this week, "It has since come out that the police may have known a lot more about the serial killer than they let on."

Franklin was found guilty of murdering the following 10 people:

  • Debra Jackson, 29, found on Aug. 10, 1985
  • Henrietta Wright, 34, found on Aug. 12, 1986
  • Barbara Ware, 23, found on Jan. 10, 1987
  • Bernita Sparks, 26, found on April 15, 1987
  • Mary Lowe, 26, found on Nov. 1, 1987
  • Lachrica Jefferson, 22, found on Jan. 30, 1988
  • Alicia Alexander, 18, found on Sept. 11, 1988
  • Princess Berthomieux, 15, found on March 19, 2002
  • Valerie McCorvey, 35, strangled and found on July 11, 2003
  • Janecia Peters, 25, found on Jan. 1, 2007
  • KPCC reports that another woman survived an attack. "In gripping testimony during the trial, Enietra Washington described being shot in the chest and sexually assaulted by a man she believed was Franklin in 1988," the station said.

    Kirk also reported that the name "Grim Sleeper," coined because of the long periods of time between murders, may be a misnomer. He said:

    "The nickname "Grim Sleeper" first came about because of an apparent gap in the murders. There were the unsolved slayings in the 1980s, and in the early 2000s, bodies of women again started turning up in alleys and dumpsters in South LA.

    "But it's now thought that the killer may have never "slept." Police uncovered nearly 100 pictures of unidentified women from Franklin's home."

    KPCC reports that "detectives released 150 photos, asking the public's help in making sure the women were OK. Thirty-five women in those images remain unaccounted for."

    The sentencing hearing for Franklin is scheduled to begin May 12.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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