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Grim Sleeper

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Name Unknown
Alias The Grim Sleeper
Gender Male
Birth Date Unknown
Place of Birth Unknown
Pathology Serial Killer
Serial Rapist
Modus Operandi Shooting
Strangulation (later)
No. of Victims 10 killed
1 attempted
10 possible
Status Uncertain

The Grim Sleeper is a still-unidentified serial killer and rapist responsible for at least ten murders in Los Angeles, California.

Case HistoryEdit

The first of ten murder victims attributed to the Grim Sleeper was found on August 15, 1985 in South Los Angeles, California. Her name was Deborah Jackson and she was employed as a cocktail waitress. Over the following three years, the Sleeper attacked eight more women. They coincided with the serial killings of several other prostitutes in the area, which were believed to have been committed by a single man nicknamed "The Southside Slayer". When the last Sleeper victim of that time, Enietra Margette Washington, was attacked but survived on November 20, 1988, and was able to give an accurate description of the killer and his car, the Sleeper is believed to have stopped killing. After remaining inactive for 13-14 years, the Sleeper struck again, killing Princess Berthomieux, a 15-year old runaway who had resorted to prostitution. She was found dead in March 2002, three months after her disappearance on December 21, 2001. Unlike the prior victims, she was strangled, not shot. Back on the hunt, the Sleeper killed again in 2003 and in 2006 or 2007. In 2007, investigators linked DNA from her body to the prior Sleeper murders. In 2009, they matched it partially to the DNA of Christopher Franklin, who had a criminal record in the form of a weapons charge. A further analysis showed that it belonged to his father, Lonnie David Franklin Jr. After trailing Franklin, the LAPD extracted a DNA sample from a slice of pizza left behind by him at a restaurant.

Franklin was arrested on July 7, 2010, after his sample was linked to the DNA on the Sleeper victims. He has been formally charged with the 10 confirmed Sleeper murders and the attempted murder and will stand trial in the near future. If he is convicted, the death penalty is considered a likely verdict. On December 16, 2010, the LAPD released a large collection of photos of women found in Franklin's home, hoping to be able to identify them. They have found a total of over 1000 photos and several hundred hours of video recordings. One photo was of Janecia Peters, the Grim Sleeper's last known victim. Recently, Franklin has also become a viable suspect in the disappearances of three other women in the Los Angeles area over the years: those of Rolena Morris, 25, who disappeared in 2005, Ayellah Marshall, a high school senior who also disappeared in 2005, and an unidentified woman. Photos of Morris and the unidentified woman were found in his home as well as the former's Nevada driver's license and Marshall's high school ID.

Prime SuspectEdit

Lonnie David Franklin

Lonnie David Franklin, Jr.

Lonnie David Franklin, Jr. worked as a garbage collector for the Los Angeles Department of Sanitation during the 1980s killings. He lived in LA and was retired at the time of his arrest. He has a criminal record dating back to 1989. It consists of two charges of possession of stolen property in 1993 and 2003, one charge of misdemeanor assault in 1999 and one of misdemeanor battery in 1997. He has served time in prison for one of the stolen property charges, but has been arrested several times in his life; his first arrest was for auto theft in 1969 when he was 16, but he has also been arrested for burglary and firearm offenses. He was a very able mechanic and even worked as one at the 77th Street police station for some time. His neighbors and friends were beyond shock when they learned of his arrest. He had often helped them as a local handyman, especially with car repairs.

Modus OperandiEdit

The Grim Sleeper targeted African-American women aged in their teens to mid-thirties. Some of them were prostitutes. He would usually pick them up, either by force or, if they were prostitutes, by soliciting them, rape them, taking photos of them with a Polaroid camera while he did so, and kill them by shooting them in the chest with a Titan FIE .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol. When the Sleeper started killing again in the 2000s, he would kill them by strangling them to death after raping them, only using a gun for his final known murder. The victims' bodies would be dumped in trash dumpsters or dumped in alleys in the south side of Los Angeles and then covered with trash.


The Grim Sleeper was profiled as a male based on witness accounts, the sexual element of the crimes, and the DNA found at the crime scenes. He is African-American, since serial killers tend to kill within the same ethnic group. His age range in 2008 is believed to have been between 45 and 55. He frequents areas with prostitutes and has a history of violence against women. He is likely a local resident, specifically living within ten miles of the killings, and/or a worker in the southern Los Angeles area. He likely has a criminal record for assault and a history of having sexually transmitted diseases. He may have low self-esteem or lacks confidence, and the act of shooting his victims in the chest provides him with the power he craves.

Known VictimsEdit

Sleeper's Victims

The confirmed victims of the Grim Sleeper, as well as possible victim Thomas Steele and would-be victim Enietra Margette Washington (who isn't identified in the table).

Edwinta Hereford

Possible victim Edwinta Hereford.

Note: The dates denote when the bodies were found, except for Enietra Margette's

  • August 10, 1985: Deborah Jackson, 29 (shot three times in the chest)
  • August 12, 1986: Henriette Wright, 34 (shot twice in the chest)
  • 1987:
    • January 10: Barbara Ware, 27 (shot once in the chest)
    • April 15: Bernita Sparks, 26 (shot once in the chest like the previous victim)
    • August: Thomas Steele, 36 (possibly; shot once behind the ear)
    • November 1: Mary Lowe, 26 (shot once in the chest)
  • 1988:
    • January 30: Lachrica Jefferson, 22 (shot twice in the chest; placed a napkin on her face with "AIDS" written on it post-mortem)
    • September 11: Alice Monique Alexander, 18 (shot twice in the chest like the previous victim)
    • November 20: Enietra Margette Washington (shot once in the chest; survived)
  • March 19, 2002: Princess Berthomieux, 15 (strangled)
  • July 11, 2003: Valeria McCorvey, 35 (strangled like the previous victim)
  • January 1, 2007: Janecia Peters, 27 (shot once in the back)
  • May 15-16, 2010: Edwinta Hereford, 19 (possibly; was killed by severe blunt-force trauma)
  • Note: Franklin is also a suspect in eight other cases, three of which have been tied to him through evidence found in his home.

On Criminal MindsEdit

Since the Sleeper's murders did not become infamous until very recently, no unsub on Criminal Minds appears to be based on him. He was, however, mentioned by Hotch in Remembrance of Things Past along with the BTK Killer as examples of serial killers who suddenly become inactive and return several years later. Also, while the Sleeper wasn't mentioned in The Last Word, the fact that the killer was active at the same time as the Southside Slayer and the perpetrator of an unrelated series of murders (which were erroneously dubbed the "Strawberry murders") seems to be one of many inspirations for the episode's prominent unsubs, The Mill Creek Killer and The Hollow Man. The aspects of the Sleeper's M.O. (targeting prostitutes, soliciting them as a ruse, dumping their bodies in dumpsters, and covering them in trash) are similar to that of David Roy Turner's second murder.


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