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'What you sow, you reap': Sister of Grim Sleeper victim responds to death sentence

Defendant Lonnie Franklin Jr. listens during opening statements of his trial.
Defendant Lonnie Franklin Jr. listens during opening statements of his trial.
Al Seib/LA Times via Getty Images

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After nearly three decades, the Grim Sleeper case came to a close Monday.

A jury handed down the death penalty to Lonnie Franklin, Jr. Franklin was convicted last month in the murders of 10 women in South Los Angeles dating back to the 1980s, and one attempted murder.

Princess Berthomieux is believed to be the youngest victim in the case. She was killed when she was 15 years old. At 3 years old, Berthomieux joined Samara Herard's family as a foster child in Claremont. Though Herard was 15 at the time, she said she would help Berthomieux with things like getting ready for school in the morning. Their connection sometimes felt maternal, Herard said. 

But the death of Herard's own mother led Berthomieux to return to the foster care system. Berthomieux was found dead in 2002. 

Herard has been waiting a long time for this decision. She spoke to Take Two's Josie Huang to remember her foster sister, and share her thoughts on the jury's decision.

Interview highlights

On what her sister was like as a child:

"My sister was a very sweet girl with an unfortunate troubled past as a very young child. At the age of 3 she came to our home after being one of the most severely abused children in LA's history at that time. [She was] really sweet though, we really sheltered her, we protected her. I mean, she went to private school, she was a wonderful child." 

What ran through her mind when she found out Berthomieux had been murdered at age 15:

"The first thing is, I found out she was dead maybe about two years after she had died. And when my father told me, I was devastated. He didn't tell me she was murdered. And that was bizarre because, nothing made sense... [I found out she was murdered] when he [Lonnie Franklin Jr.] was arrested. That was, I think, one of the most devastating things I've ever experienced in my life."  

On closure, and her reaction to Lonnie Franklin, Jr.'s fate:  

"Well the first closure was the guilty [verdict]. That's the most important closure. Because that says, 'You've done this thing. And there's no question about it.' The sentencing, that didn't move me as much. I mean, I'm glad he'll never hurt anyone else the way he hurt my sister, and he'll never have the opportunity to hurt other families and create more victims... So, he'll never make another victim, he'll never have that opportunity. I believe that justice is served, and I believe what you sow, you reap."

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.