"Grim Sleeper" Suspect Appears in Court
The "Grim Sleeper" is responsible for at least 11 deaths over a period of 22 years in the Los Angeles area.
LOS ANGELES -- The man police say is the notorious serial killer known as the "Grim Sleeper" made his first court appearance Thursday.
57-year-old Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was only in court for a few minutes.
His arraignment on 10 counts of murder has been postponed until Aug. 9.
Franklin was arrested at 9:20 a.m. Wednesday morning in front of his home on 81st street in South Los Angeles.
He was charged Wednesday with 10 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and special circumstance allegations of multiple murders that could make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
The arrest ends a 25 year investigation into the deaths of 11 people dating back to 1985.
See the 'Grim Sleeper' Victims
Police say Franklin was linked to the crimes using a relatively new and controversial forensic technique known as 'Familial' DNA searching.
"Familial" searching allows investigators to look for close DNA matches in relatives when the suspect's DNA profile is not in the state database.
According to police, a DNA sample taken from his son in an unrelated case was found to bear a close resemblance to DNA found on the victims.
Cooley said detectives then used a discarded cup with Franklin's DNA to make the link.
Franklin worked as an attendant working on LAPD cars in 1981, and then later worked in the sanitation department. He has since been working as a private mechanic.
His arrest came as a shock to neighbors.
"He's the neighborhood mechanic" said neighbor Eric Robinson, 47.
"He volunteers at the park. A very good man. His daughter just graduated from college, I believe. He's a good mechanic, worked out of his garage. I've been here since 1976; that's how long I've known him. I'm not pretty shocked, I'm all the way shocked."
The 'Grim Sleeper' is believed responsible for the murders of 10 women and one man from 1985 to 2007.
After 1988, the killer did not commit any known homicides until 2002.
He last struck on Jan. 1, 2007.
A 12th victim escaped after she was shot and raped.
The 14-year hiatus between the two distinct sets of killings correspond to a time when Franklin was on disability, a law enforcement source said.
All the bodies were found outdoors, often in alleys a few miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
The victims were shot, strangled or both, usually after some kind of sexual contact.
Ten victims were women and several were prostitutes.
Police have said it's possible the male victim, Thomas Steele, who was shot in 1987, was a friend of another victim or discovered the killer's identity.
Franklin has twice been convicted of felonies, according to court records, both for receiving stolen property.
One was in 1993 and the other was 2003.
He served a year in jail for the first conviction and was sentenced to 270 days in jail in the 2003 case.
In 1997, he pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor battery.
As part of a plea deal, a charge of false imprisonment was dropped, according to court records.
In 1999, he was convicted of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
Details of that case were not immediately available.
The "Grim Sleeper" was described in 1988 by the surviving victim as black, in his 20s, between 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-10, around 160 pounds, soft-spoken, articulate, with neatly trimmed hair and a pockmarked face.
Police released new composite sketches of the "Grim Sleeper" in December showing what the suspect may look like now.
In February, detectives released a recording of a 1987 emergency call as they searched for a suspect.
The witness called from a pay phone to say he had seen a man remove a woman's body from a blue and white 1976 Dodge van.
The man told the dispatcher the van's license plate was 1PZP746, and police located it about 30 minutes later at the now-defunct Cosmopolitan Cathedral.
The body the witness reported seeing was that of Barbara Ware, a 23-year-old with a history of prostitution who was found shot to death in a South Los Angeles alley in 1987.