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Renewed push to catch South L.A. serial killer

May 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Several new billboards went up in South Los Angeles Tuesday in an effort to capture the "Grim Sleeper." The serial killer is suspected in the murders of 11 people since 1985. Detectives hope the billboards, along with a half-million-dollar reward offered by the Los Angeles City Council for the capture and conviction of the suspect, will finally put the Grim Sleeper behind bars.

Six billboards have gone up in South L.A., where at least 11 victims were killed between 1985 and 2007. There are two additional digital billboards on the 91 Freeway in Compton.

Detectives have three updated composite sketches of what the suspect, a serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper, might look like today.

In one he appears weathered from a hard life.

Another shows the suspect with extra weight.

In the third he appears similar to the original sketch in a description given to police from a lone victim that survived an attack by the Grim Sleeper.

"Now, I think that the more people that are informed that there is someone out here in our streets and in our community killing people, killing our women, then they'll pay more attention," said Shamika Smith, the sister of Janecia Peters , who was shot to death by the serial killer.

A few years ago four billboards went up in South L.A. The suspect was linked to the killings by modern day scientific evidence. With more billboards out there and with three variations of the sketch, detectives trust that someone might just finger the Grim Sleeper this time around.

"People realize that, 'Hey, that that's the guy up the street,' or 'That's the guy that I just saw in the store' or whatever," said LAPD Det. Dennis Kilcoyne. "Sooner or later one call is going to click and then things will start happening like dominos. So things will fall into place and we will have our guy."

Detectives say the serial killer victimized prostitutes and drug addicts, strangling and shooting them to death. Barbara Ware, 23, was one of the killer's victims.

"And she was shot once in the chest. And that's how they identified her as one of the victims. Through ballistics and also through DNA," said Diane Ware, Barbara's stepmother.

L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks initially spearheaded the effort to put up the billboards. Clear Channel Outdoor donated the billboard space.

"This case is about to reach its 25th anniversary," said Parks. "That suspect is still out preying on the public. Generally every time we highlight it there's several hundred leads come in. New cases, new people."

"The victims, they have not been forgotten," said Kilcoyne. "And it gets to you."

If you have any tips help police to catch the Grim Sleeper, detectives want to hear from you at (877) LAPD-24- (877-527-3247). Callers can remain anonymous.


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