Emotions high for families of victims in 'Grim Sleeper' case

EMBED </>More Videos

More than 30 years since the bodies of young women started turning up in South Los Angeles, attorneys are set to give opening statements in the long-awaited 'Grim Sleeper' trial on Tuesday. (Jae C. Hong)

More than 30 years since the bodies of young women started turning up in alleyways and garbage bins in South Los Angeles, attorneys are set to give opening statements in the long-awaited "Grim Sleeper" trial on Tuesday.

The families of the victims say they've been waiting decades for this trial to begin.

Monique Alexander, 18, walked out of her South L.A. home in 1988 to go to the store. Her dad, Porter Alexander, says he can't stop replaying that scene in his head.

"What happened that day? Why couldn't she come home? Who kept her from coming home?" he asks himself. He was 48 when his daughter was killed. He's now 75.

Fourteen years later, Lonnie Franklin Jr., the so-called "Grim Sleeper," allegedly raped and murdered a 15-year-old girl named Princess.

"It was very challenging for me, even being a woman of faith, to even have me question my faith because you know what she went through. How could you let this happen to her?" said Princess' sister, Samara Herard.

Franklin, 63, is accused of killing nine women and a teen girl between 1985 and 2007, tossing their bodies like trash in alleyways. The "Grim Sleeper" nickname was coined because of an apparent 14-year gap in the murders between 1988 and 2002.

Cold-case detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department arrested the auto mechanic in July 2010 after his DNA was connected to more than a dozen crime scenes. An officer posing as a busboy at a pizza parlor got DNA samples from dishes and utensils Franklin had been eating with at a birthday party.

Since Franklin's arrest six years ago, the families of the victims have traveled to every pretrial hearing but the case has languished in court due to repeated delays.

"There's people that have passed away. This thing took a long time," Herard said.

Porter Alexander says he hopes the trial will subdue his nearly three decades of angst. He says he wonders if he had sheltered Monique too much or failed to make her street smart.

"That girl meant everything to me," he said.

The families of the victims also hope that the trial will remind the community that predators are always out there.

"I just hope and pray that this kind of thing won't happen anymore because no one deserves that," Herard said.

The "Grim Sleeper" was among at least three serial killers who stalked Los Angeles-area women during a crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s. His trial is expected to last up to four months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Related Topics:
murdercourt casetrialserial killerLos AngelesLos Angeles County
(Copyright ©2017 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

Load Comments