"We Can Now Be At Peace": Victims' Families React To “Grim Sleeper” Lonnie Franklin's Death
He may have murdered dozens of women in Los Angeles over two decades.
Serial killer Lonnie David Franklin Jr., also known as the Grim Sleeper, died of natural causes while on death row at San Quentin State Prison on March 28, 2020.
“Medical assistance was rendered and an ambulance was summoned. Franklin was pronounced deceased at 7:43 p.m. His cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy; however, there were no signs of trauma,” California corrections officials said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
In 2016, Franklin, 67, was convicted and sentenced to death for taking the lives of nine women and a teenage girl in South Los Angeles. He sexually assaulted his victims and then shot or strangled them before dumping their bodies in alleyways and dumpsters. His killing spree of African American females in poor neighborhoods went undetected for decades.
Franklin may have murdered as many as 25 women between 1985 and 2007, according to police. He earned the macabre moniker Grim Sleeper when his slayings seemed to go dormant for a number of years.
Franklin was finally connected to multiple murders after a task force began reinvestigating cold cases and performed a familial search. Detectives were able to get a partial match between a DNA sample from Franklin’s son, Christopher — collected when he was imprisoned for an unrelated crime — and genetic crime scene evidence. The task force then traced the elder Franklin to the unsolved cases.
After Franklin’s July 2010 arrest, Los Angeles Police detectives searching the killer’s home discovered a cache of photos of women, including some which showed his confirmed victims, and a gun used in one of the murders.
Officials later released 180 of the pictures in hopes of determining if they could help identify any of the Grim Sleeper’s yet-to-be-named victims.
The stepmother of murder victim Barbara Ware, found dead in January 1987, told People she was “shocked” about his death.
“I won’t say I’m pleased he died but at the end there was justice for all the bad things he did in his life,” Diana Ware said. “We can now be at peace.”
For more on the victims' stories, stream The Grim Sleeper: Mind of a Monster on discovery+ now.
Read more: BuzzFeed