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'Grim Sleeper' may be tied to 30 murders

July 10, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Court records show accused 'Grim Sleeper' killer Lonnie Franklin Jr. was arrested many times over four decades and spent time in police custody but he always managed to be set free.

The suspected serial killer was jailed for a variety of crimes through the years, but he often avoided prosecution even though tough sentences were recommended by law enforcement officials.

Lonnie Franklin Jr., 57, was arrested Wednesday and charged with 10 counts of murder. He allegedly killed seven women between 1985 and 1988.

Authorities call him the "Grim Sleeper" killer after a string of murders of young black women had South Los Angeles on edge in the 1980s. The killings suddenly stopped but resumed 14 years later.

Court records show that Franklin was arrested at least 15 times for car theft, burglary, assault and other crimes. He was often placed on probation and was never entered into the state's DNA database because his crimes weren't considered serious enough.

A law requiring that DNA be taken from every person convicted of a felon passed in 2004, a year after Franklin's last conviction.

"Certainly, all of us think that people should serve their max," Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks said. "But we also know that there's a federal court decree as to a maximum number of prisoners in county jail."

Parks said that Franklin was never entered into the state's DNA database because he was never convicted of a violent crime. However, Parks said that the state's law has since changed to expand who goes into the database.

LAPD investigators are going through their records and suspect that Franklin may be linked to many more murders.

"His full DNA profile, from what my scientists tell me, will allow us to connect possibly more cases that were not a close enough match before," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. "I will say that we have some very promising evidence that has been recovered from his residence that I believe will connect him to these crimes and maybe some others."

Records show that in 2003, Franklin faced up to three years in prison after pleading no contest to receiving stolen property, but he was released after spending less than a year in jail. Two months later, the body of one of his alleged victims was discovered.

Authorities suspect that Franklin may be tied to at least 30 cold cases and they're going through records to find leads for those cases.

Franklin made his first court appearance Thursday on the murder counts as well as one count of attempted murder and special-circumstance allegations of multiple murder that could lead to the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole.

His arraignment was postponed until Aug. 9 at the request of his attorney.

AP contributed to this report.


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