Top brass from the Los Angeles Police Department held a community meeting at Bethel A.M.E. Church in South Los Angeles on Nov. 2 to renew their call for help from the public in identifying possible victims of alleged serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr.
Detectives currently believe the total number of women Franklin killed is 16. Dubbed “the Grim Sleeper” for the long gaps of time between murders, Franklin is accused of slaying 10 women whose bodies were found on the streets of South Los Angeles over two decades. Police told those gathered at the meeting that a second woman has come forward to say she survived an attack by Franklin.
Police have decided not to seek additional charges in six new cases, fearing it could lead to long delays and unnecessarily complicate the prosecution’s current case.
Two of the victims were reported missing years ago and have never been found. Their possessions were discovered at Franklin’s house, leading police to conclude that he killed them.
Police have published the faces of nearly 180 women pictured in photographs discovered at Franklin’s home. They are still trying to identify 48 of them, and are asking for the public’s help.
“We may never know how many young women Lonnie Franklin killed, but we are going to do all we can to find out,” Police Chief Charlie Beck said to the sparse audience of concerned citizens.
Prosecutors have alleged that Franklin, a former LAPD garage attendant and city garbage collector, sexually assaulted and killed women on the margins of society for nearly 25 years. Seven of the women he is accused of killing died between 1985 and 1988 and the others between 2002 and 2007. Franklin has pleaded not guilty and remains in custody. Along with 10 murder charges, he also is charged with one count of attempted murder.
Franklin’s attorney, Louisa Pensanti, criticized the department’s decision to announce Franklin’s alleged ties to the additional killings but not seek new charges. She says it is not fair to accuse him of the additional crimes, yet not allow Franklin to defend himself against the allegations.