Crime & Justice

Grim Sleeper serial killer may have 8 more victims

Suspected killer Lonnie David Franklin Jr., dubbed the 'Grim Sleeper' for a 13-year break between his strings of 11 murders, is pictured during his arraignment in Los Angeles Criminal Courts on July 8, 2010.
Suspected killer Lonnie David Franklin Jr., dubbed the 'Grim Sleeper' for a 13-year break between his strings of 11 murders, is pictured during his arraignment in Los Angeles Criminal Courts on July 8, 2010.
AL SEIB/AFP/Getty Images

A South Los Angeles mechanic charged with the "Grim Sleeper" serial killings of 10 women over two decades might have killed eight other women, police said Tuesday.

Detectives have uncovered evidence that connects Lonnie Franklin Jr., 58, to six women missing from 1982 to 2006, a police news release said.

Three of the women were linked to Franklin by "strong circumstantial evidence" found at his home, while the other three were known to have frequented Franklin's neighborhood prior to their disappearance and "shared similar lifestyles," the statement said.

Most of the 10 known homicide victims were prostitutes who worked an area just blocks from Franklin's home.

The seventh new victim is unidentified, but investigators believe she is linked to the killings because of evidence discovered at Franklin's house. Police are asking for the public's help in identifying the woman.

Detectives also believe Franklin may be responsible for the unsolved slaying of Inez Warren, who was killed in 1988 in a similar way to the 10 homicides Franklin is charged with. Police said they need additional information before making a definite connection to Franklin, who has pleaded not guilty to the 10 original killings.

Four of the eight newly identified women had been previously not been connected to the case, police said.

The Grim Sleeper, named as such because the killings appeared to stop in 1988 and resurfaced in 2002, shot or strangled black women ages 14 to 36 in South Los Angeles. Their bodies were found dumped in alleyways off Western Avenue, an area known for prostitution.

Franklin, whose criminal record listed 15 arrests for burglary, assault and other crimes but who was never sentenced to prison, was arrested last summer through a familial DNA search of prison inmates.

Although Franklin's DNA had never been entered into the state database, investigators last June found a partial match to his son, recently convicted of weapons possession, leading them to Franklin.

During subsequent searches of his modest bungalow, police found hundreds of sexually explicit photographs and home videos in the house and in a camper in his backyard where neighbors said he would meet women.

Other evidence seized included guns, handcuffs, ammunition and car seats.

Neighbors said Franklin was well known as a backyard mechanic and for showing his photo collection.

In December, police posted photos of about 160 women online and on billboards, asking for the public's help to identify them so they could be eliminated from or added to a possible victim list.

Those photos have been whittled down to 56 women who remain unidentified.

Police Chief Charlie Beck and detectives have scheduled an afternoon news conference to request the public's help.

© 2011 The Associated Press.