Case Studies
The Case Study of Grim Sleeper’s Victims

The Case Study of Grim Sleeper’s Victims

Tales of the Grim Sleeper” is a crime film premiered on HBO. It’s a real-life story of an American Serial killer that will leave you with fear in the pit of your stomach. To put it most simplistically: This movie is scary, and so is the actual case.

Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the so-called Grim Sleeper, is a serial killer who preyed on Los Angeles women for more than two decades. He targeted women who were drug addicts or prostitutes and often dumped their naked bodies alongside roads or in the trash.

Serial killers have always been a matter of interest whenever we talk about murders with the same pattern since the motive behind all their attacks is the same. Let’s dive deep into this case of Grim sleeper and his victims and know how this case was different and scary from other criminal cases.

Murders by Grim Sleeper

The Grim Sleeper is one of the most gruesome serial killer cases known in the United States. This case goes back to the year 1980.

A man approached a young woman named Laura Moore at a bus stop in the Spring of 1984. The man disclosed a warning saying, “You shouldn’t be out here alone. Bad guys will pick you up. Let me take you where you have to go.” Moore, 21 at the time, agreed to take the man’s offer. He then told her to put on her seat belt as they both drove off.

When she refused, she stated that the man reached under his seat, grabbed a gun, shot her six times, and severely injured Moore. Fortunately, she managed to escape but turned back to study his face. That man was Lonnie David Franklin Jr, now better known as the “Grim Sleeper” serial killer.

The Grim Sleeper murders were active during the 1980s, and there was a period of time that the killings had stopped. Franklin wanted to keep a low profile. In 2002 the Grim Sleeper’s killing made a surprising return for the community of Los Angeles.

Some victims were prostitutes. He picked up the women, either by force or if they were prostitutes, by soliciting them and raping them. Franklin also took photos of his victims with a polaroid camera after his killings. He used to kill the women by shooting them in the chest with a Titan FIE .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol.

When Franklin started killing again in the 2000s, he would kill women by strangling them to death after raping them. The Grim Sleeper only used a gun for his final known murders during the 1980s. The victim’s bodies would be dumped in trash dumpsters or alleys on the south side of Los Angeles. He then covered their bodies with trash.

Based on witness accounts, Franklin was profiled as a male and tended to kill within the same ethnic group of women. 

The Investigation and Conviction

In the mid-1980s, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) became aware of an apparent serial killer targeting black women who were chronic drug users and street sex workers. The killer dubbed the “Southside Slayer” was believed responsible for stabbing and strangling at least 13 sex workers between 1983 and late 1985. By January 1986, 15 murders had been linked to the case. More detectives were added to the joint LAPD-Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigation, known as the Southside Slayer Task Force. However, by 1986 the case was still under investigation.

In May 2007, the slaying of Janecia Peters, 25, was linked through DNA analysis to at least 11 unsolved murders in Los Angeles, the first of which occurred in 1985. After a four-month investigation, LA Weekly investigative reporter Christin in some cases was the first to inform the families that their daughters had long been confirmed as victims of a serial killer.

In early September 2008, Los Angeles officials announced that they were offering a $500,000 reward to help catch the killer. On February 25, 2009, Bratton addressed the press for the first time regarding the case, at which time the police formally gave the killer the “Grim Sleeper” nickname chosen by LA Weekly. Bratton also released a 911 call from the 1980s. A man reported seeing a body being dumped by Franklin, giving a detailed description and license plate number of a van connected with the now-closed Cosmopolitan Church.

In March 2009, Pelisek conducted an extensive interview with Enietra Washington, the sole survivor of Franklin’s attacks. Washington described him as “a black man in his early 30s. He looked neat, tidy, and geeky. He wore a black polo shirt tucked into khaki trousers.” She also described the interior and exterior of his vehicle. On July 7, 2010, Franklin was arrested. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged him with ten counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and special circumstance allegations of multiple murders in the case.

On June 6, 2016, a Los Angeles County jury sentenced Franklin to death. On August 10, the Superior Court sentenced Franklin on each count, naming the individual victims.

Victims of Grim Sleeper

Prosecutors suspect that Lonnie Franklin’s first victim was Sharon Alicia Dismuke, killed on January 15, 1984. His first confirmed victim was Debra Jackson, whose murder occurred in August 1985.

Franklin took a 14-year hiatus after his last known crime in 1988, and his subsequent confirmed murder occurred in 2002. As a result of this apparent dormancy, he was nicknamed the “Grim Sleeper.” Investigators have stated they believe it is likely that there were other as-yet-unidentified victims during that time frame. The last confirmed murder was in January 2007.

All but one of his victims were black women. One of his suspected victims was a black man. Many of his victims were sex workers, and Franklin was known to have had frequent contact with sex workers.

All of his victims were found outdoors, often in alleys a short distance from downtown Los Angeles. He shot all of his victims with a .25 caliber gun. Franklin took many photographs of nude women and kept the records in his garage.

Franklin’s Known And Suspected Victims

  • Sharon Alicia Dismuke was a 21yrs old girl whose body was found on January 15, 1984, in South Park, Los Angeles. Sharon was not considered a Grim Sleeper victim until after Franklin’s arrest. Evidence linking the modus operandi of Sharon’s murder to Franklin’s other murders was presented at Franklin’s sentencing.
  • Debra Ronette Jackson, aged 29 yrs, was found dead on August 10, 1985, near Vermont-Slauson, Los Angeles. Henrietta Wright was 34 yrs old and was found dead on August 12, 1986, in Hyde Park, Los Angeles. 
  • Thomas Sylvester Steele was a Male aged 36 yrs old whose body was found on August 14, 1986, in Harvard Park, Los Angeles. Franklin was not charged in his case due to a lack of evidence. Police said that the male victim, Thomas Steele, possibly was a friend of another victim or had discovered the killer’s identity.
  • Barbara Bethune Ware, a 23 yrs old female, was found dead on January 10, 1987, in Central Alameda, Los Angeles.
  • Bernita Rochelle Sparks, aged 26, was found dead on April 15, 1987, in Gramercy Park, Los Angeles.
  • Mary Katherine Lowe, 26, was found on November 1, 1987, in Gramercy Park, Los Angeles. Lirica
  • Denise Jefferson, 22, was found on January 30, 1988, in Westmont, Los Angeles County.
  • Inez Elizabeth Warren, 28, was found on August 15, 1988, in Gramercy Park, Los Angeles. Warren was not considered a Grim Sleeper victim until after Franklin’s arrest. Evidence linking the modus operandi of Warren’s murder to Franklin’s other murders was presented at Franklin’s sentencing.
  • Alicia Monique Alexander, aged 18, was found on September 11, 1988, in Vermont Square, Los Angeles.
  • Entra Margette Washington, 30, whose body was found in Gramercy Park, Los Angele, was attacked on November 20, 1988; she is the only confirmed survivor.
  • Georgia May Thomas, 43, was found dead on December 28, 2000, in South Park, Los Angeles. Thomas was not considered a Grim Sleeper victim until after Franklin’s arrest. Evidence linking the modus operandi of Thomas’s murder to Franklin’s other murders was presented at Franklin’s sentencing.
  • Princess Cheyanne Berthomieux,15, was found dead on March 19, 2002, Inglewood, California.
  • Valerie Louise McCorvey, 35, was found dead on July 11, 2003, in Westmont, Los Angeles County.
  • Ayellah Gbodzata Marshall, aged 18, was last seen in February 2005. Her body has never been found. Her school identification card was found in Franklin’s garage. Evidence linking Franklin to Marshall was not sufficient to pursue Franklin.
  • Rolenia Morris, 31, was last seen on September 5, 2005. Her body has never been found. Her Nevada driver’s license and two sexually explicit pictures of her were found in Franklin’s garage. Prosecutors presented this evidence at Franklin’s sentencing.
  • Janecia Lavette Peters was one of the last identified victims.

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