Thursday, July 08, 2010

"Grim Sleeper" Serial Killer Arrested in LA: Lonnie Franklin Jr.

"'This arrest provides proof positive that familial DNA searches must be a part of law enforcement's crime-fighting arsenal. Although the adoption of this new state policy was unprecedented and controversial, in certain cases, it is the only way to bring a dangerous killer to justice,' [California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr.] said."---CNN (7-8-10)

On Wednesday, July 7, 2010, the Los Angeles Police arrested Lonnie Franklin Jr. Based on a DNA test, Franklin is suspected of being the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. The "Grim Sleeper" has killed at least 11 people over a period of 25 years. All but one of the victims were women. The youngest was a beautiful 14-year-old child, Princess Berthomieux, a troubled runnaway who had fallen into prostitution.

Most of the murders occurred between 1985 and 1988. The killer stopped killing for 14 years and then resumed his killings, murdering three people between 2002 and 2007. Between 1988 and 2002, he was "asleep"; hence, the sobriquet "Grim Sleeper." Franklin hid right under the nose of the police: he was employed by the LAPD as a mechanic until his retirement! It is not unusual for serial killers to seek some relationship with law enforcement.

There will be a news conference about the arrest today.

Franklin was apprehended after his son was arrested and given a DNA test. When the son's DNA was a close match to the killer's DNA, the police began to investigate the relatives of Franklin's son. Detectives swabbed a cup used by Lonnie Franklin Jr. at a restaurant and discovered that his DNA matched the serial killer's.

According to District Attorney Steve Cooley, this is the first time that the technique known as familial DNA analysis has been used successfully in California.

Margaret Prescod, who works with the victims' families and is the founder of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, said the Grim Sleeper Task Force informed her of the arrest Wednesday. On CNN T.V. this morning, Prescod claimed that these murders would have been given more attention if they had happened in a white, affluent community. She complained that for many years that people were not aware that a serial killer was operating in their area. The police say that they were trying not to tip-off the killer. In recent years, however, the LA Weekly and activists had publicized the fact that there was a serial killer, according to Wikipedia.

CNN (7-8-10) reports:

If Franklin turns out to be the Grim Sleeper, "it would be a huge relief, not only for the (victims' families), but for the entire community that remained at threat," Prescod said.

"We are mortified that it has taken this long to make an arrest but nevertheless, one is always glad when there is a breakthrough and we can only hope right now that it is a solid breakthrough."

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said California's familial DNA search program led to the identification and arrest of Franklin.

The program -- which was enacted in 2008 against opposition from civil rights groups -- uses the DNA of family members to find suspects in cases of great risk to the public, Brown's office said in a press release.

Using the DNA of one of Franklin's family members, who had been convicted of a felony weapons charge, investigators established a familial connection between the family member and DNA collected at the murder scenes, the statement said. That connection was used to identify and arrest Franklin after his DNA was obtained.

"This arrest provides proof positive that familial DNA searches must be a part of law enforcement's crime-fighting arsenal. Although the adoption of this new state policy was unprecedented and controversial, in certain cases, it is the only way to bring a dangerous killer to justice," Brown said.

Prescod told CNN she met with victims' family members, who had many questions about the arrest. Family members were told not to give any details about the case or speak to the media until the news conference Thursday, she said.

Overall, Prescod said, there was a feeling of relief among the relatives of the serial killer's victims.

She said some relatives of the victims screamed and shouted on the phone when she told them the news, elated that perhaps they could find closure in the deaths of their loved ones.

...Prescod said much of her organization's efforts focused on the area where Franklin was arrested.

"We went around there, going door-to-door to make sure people knew about the murders. At the time that we did that, most of the people hadn't even heard about the murders and people were concerned because they felt -- this is happening and we frankly don't know anything about it." [See full text.]

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