Crime & Justice

LA church holds memorial service for 'Grim Sleeper' victims amid trial

File: Photographs found in the possession of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. are shown during a news conference in Los Angeles Dec. 16, 2010.
File: Photographs found in the possession of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. are shown during a news conference in Los Angeles Dec. 16, 2010.
Jae C. Hong/AP

Lonnie Franklin Jr., nicknamed the "Grim Sleeper," is currently on trial for the serial murders of 10 black women over a 22-year span. The long-awaited trial began in February. Senior pastor of Holman United Methodist Church Rev. Kelvin Sauls, in collaboration with Black Coalition Fights Back, said that they are working to bring support to the families of the victims.

“When you’re dealing with the way some of these women died, that continues to just be a traumatic experience for family members, especially now that a trial is going on,” Sauls told KPCC.

On Friday night, support comes in the form an interdenominational prayer and memorial service, Sauls said. The service starts at 7 p.m. at Holman United and is set to include musical performances from Bettie Mae Fikes and KB Solomon, as well as spoken-word poetry by Peggy Dammond Preacely.

Family members of the victims are expected to be in attendance. Sauls said that organizers have even secured transportation for some of them. 

"Each one of these 10 women, each one of them, is some mother's daughter, some father's child, and we want to stand with the families to let them know that they might be gone, but they are not forgotten," Sauls said.

Emphasis has been placed on "reaffirming the humanity and dignity" of the victims, Sauls said. Many of the victims had histories of prostitution and cocaine use

“We are very, very disturbed and concerned as to how these women are being portrayed during this trial," Sauls said. "They are being portrayed in such a way as if their lives weren’t valuable, as if they were not worth anything."

A memorial fund has been established to assist the families of those who were allegedly murdered by Franklin. Sauls said that there will be an offering collected at the event that will be put toward the fund. 

For more information about the service, visit the event's Facebook page