Alleged 'Grim Sleeper's arraignment postponed

Lonnie Franklin Jr., 57, suspect in the 'Grim Sleeper' serial killings, appears in a Los Angeles court, Thursday, July 8, 2010.

July 8, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The 'Grim Sleeper' murder suspect appeared in court Thursday, where his arraignment was postponed until Aug. 9. Authorities say they are confident they have their man after a 25-year manhunt."Because of (the detectives') hard work, I stand before you to announce the arrest of a suspect who has terrorized our community for far too long," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa during a news conference.

Lonnie Franklin Jr., 57, was arrested in front of his South Los Angeles home on the 1800 block of W. 81st Street on Wednesday. He is accused of killing 10 people from 1985 to 2007.

Los Angeles Police Detectives linked Franklin to the crimes using DNA taken from his son after an arrest in an unrelated case. Police said they saw that Franklin's son's DNA was similar to evidence from the ongoing case, so they swabbed a cup at a restaurant used by Franklin, collecting his DNA for evidence.

Officials say this is the first time a familial DNA search has been used successfully in the state. According to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, the resources spent investigating the cases far exceeded any other case currently on their docket.

"This is a landmark case," Beck said. "This will change the way policing is done in the United States."

Franklin was charged with 10 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, according to the L.A. County District Attorney's Office. Franklin would be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

The victims, ranging in age from 14 to 36, were shot, strangled or both, usually after some kind of sexual contact. Ten victims were women and several were prostitutes. One victim was male. All resided within Los Angeles County.

Janecia Peters was the last known victim. Peters' aunt Diane McQueen says she had lost hope that her niece's murder would ever be solved.

The 25-year-old woman in a crumpled photo held by McQueen was found shot to death in an alley in 2007.

"We miss her a whole lot and we're so glad that this day finally came," said an emotional McQueen. "It didn't seem like this day would ever come, but it did."

Neighbors said they thought Franklin was just a friendly neighborhood auto mechanic. Glenn Williams, who runs an auto parts store on Western Avenue, said Franklin was a good customer.

"He seemed like a very nice guy and he was a very helpful guy," Williams said. "It's amazing. He came to me every day, he knows all my children and everything else. It never dawned to me that he's that kind of person."

Franklin worked as an attendant working on LAPD cars in 1981, and then later worked in the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation. He has since been working as a private mechanic.

Franklin will be held without bail until his postponed arraignment date.


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