Cool LOS ANGELES — A one-time police garage attendant suspected of killing 10 people and stumping
detectives for more than two decades was finally arrested Wednesday after police used DNA from his son
to track him down.
Lonnie Franklin Jr., 57, was charged with 10 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and special
circumstance allegations of multiple murders that could make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted,
District Attorney Steve Cooley said.
"Today is a good day," Donnell Alexander, the brother of victim Monique Alexander, said as he watched
police activity outside the South Los Angeles house where the arrest was made earlier in the day.
Detectives have spent years investigating slayings between 1985 and 2007 in which the killer targeted
young black women and one man. The attacker was dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" because he apparently
took a 14-year hiatus from his crimes, from 1988 to 2002.
The victims were shot, strangled or both, usually after some kind of sexual contact. Several were
Neighbors said Franklin talked openly about his encounters with local prostitutes, who he would often bring
to a camper in his backyard. They also said he would show off nude photos he took of the women.
The break in the case came after Franklin's son was arrested and swabbed for DNA, said Alexander, who
was given a briefing on the case by robbery-homicide detectives.
Using a controversial technique known as a familial DNA search, the sample came back as similar to
evidence in the serial killings, leading police to investigate relatives of the man who was arrested.
Detectives later swabbed a cup used by Lonnie Franklin Jr. at a restaurant and confirmed his DNA
matched that in the serial killings, Alexander said, citing his briefing by police. Two police officials
confirmed Alexander's account.
Cooley believes the "Grim Sleeper" case was the first time a familial DNA search has been used
successfully in California.
State Attorney General Jerry Brown said the match came when an unspecified family member of Franklin
was swabbed after getting convicted on a felony weapons charge.
Los Angeles city personnel director Maggie Whalen said Franklin was hired in 1981 as an attendant at a
Los Angeles Police Department garage, where he helped work on cars.
The following year, he moved to the sanitation department, where he worked a number of jobs before
becoming a refuse collector. He left city employment in 1989.
Earlier Wednesday, dozens of police officials closed off a block around the 81st Street house where
Franklin was arrested.
Franklin's mint-green house was nestled amid a row of stucco homes, most of them single-story, in this
working-class community where many neighbors know each other. The house is within blocks of the
alleyways where some of his alleged victims were dumped.
Neighbors described him as friendly and quiet and were stunned when they learned of his arrest. They
said he was often seen working on cars in his front yard and would sometimes stop to chat with passers-by.
Alexander joined a crowd at the end of the block where the green house is located. A mobile command
post was parked out front, and a line of police tents sheltered tables in the front yard.
Alexander said he always kept faith there would be an arrest.
"You don't think about it every day, but every birthday, every holiday, every Christmas," he said. "It's not
closure but it helps."
The "Grim Sleeper" case has dogged police even though they had the killer's DNA, a description from a
survivor and had offered a $500,000 reward.
Police have said it's possible the lone male victim, Thomas Steele, who was shot in 1987, was a friend of
another victim or discovered the killer's identity.
All the bodies were found outdoors, often in alleys a few miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
Rochell Johnson, whose mother Henrietta Wright was thought to be the killer's second victim when she was
murdered in 1986, praised detectives.
"I was just waiting for the day," she said. "It's a big relief for all the victims' families."
The initial killings occurred during a time of extreme violence in parts of Los Angeles, when many young
women were falling prey to crack cocaine and other drug addictions. As many as 30 detectives
investigated the slayings in the 1980s but exhausted leads within a few years.
A special squad of detectives was assembled after the most recent known "Grim Sleeper" killing, the June
2007 shooting of Janecia Peters, 25, whose body was found in a trash bin.
The detectives have been focusing on the January 1987 slaying of Barbara Ware, a 23-year-old with a
history of prostitution who was found shot in a South Los Angeles alley.
A man called police to report seeing her body being dumped from a blue-and-white van. Within an hour
police had used the license plates to locate the van at its registered address at a church. The van's
engine was still warm and there were several congregants in the church, but none seemed to know
anything. The trail stopped there.
The one suspect description came from a woman who was sexually assaulted then shot and survived. She
said a man with chiseled features and a black polo shirt who was driving an orange Ford Pinto offered her
a ride to her sister's house.
She said they exchanged banter and shortly after getting into the car, she was attacked and pushed from
Keisha Smith was among the crowd kept away from the 81st Street investigation scene by police tape. She
said Franklin was well known as a mechanic in the neighborhood and had often helped find parts for her
"It makes me feel scared," she said. "I have three little kids and he was that close to my kids."
Franklin was expected to be arraigned Thursday.
'Grim Sleeper' Suspect
Arrested For 11 Murders