30 years later, Grim Sleeper case finally goes to trial

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get started in a downtown courtroom.

Lonnie Franklin Jr. – the alleged Grim Sleeper killer – is charged with killing nine women and a girl between 1985 and 2007, but police suspect that he actually killed more, perhaps many more.

Franklin has been sitting in jail for nearly six years as court proceedings have been repeatedly delayed. But the excruciating wait for victims’ families is finally over. Opening statements are scheduled to begin today in a trial that prosecutors say could take up to four months.

The 63-year-old mechanic is accused of targeting primarily young black women in the Manchester Square Area of South Los Angeles over a period spanning three decades. His victims were strangled or shot and dumped in alleys, often after sexual encounters. The tag grim Sleeper stems from an apparent 14-year gap in the murders between 1988 and 2002.franklin4

Even as Franklin faces trial for 10 deaths, detectives continue to investigate him in connection with other unsolved homicides. Police have also released dozens of photos of women that were found at Franklin’s home in the hope that someone can identify them, and it can be determined if they are possible additional victims.

The Grim Sleeper was actually one of three serial killers who stalked women in South L.A. during the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s. Those attacks were dubbed the “Southside Slayer” killings before police realized that more than one person was involved. Truck driver Chester Turner was convicted of 14 killings and sentenced to death in 2007. Another man – Michael Hughes – is serving life in prison for four killings.

Franklin is facing a possible death sentence if he’s convicted.