LA Grim Sleeper suspect had 4-decade arrest record
Associated Press Writer Gillian Flaccus – 38 mins ago
LOS ANGELES – The 57-year-old man charged with 10 murders in the Los Angeles "Grim Sleeper" case was arrested at least 15 times over four decades but was never sent to state prison despite the recommendation of probation officers, court and jail records show.
Lonnie Franklin Jr. was arrested for burglary, car theft, firearms possession and assaults. But his crimes never were considered serious enough to send him to state prison or to warrant his entry in the state's DNA database, authorities said.
"He's danced to the raindrops for a long time without getting wet," Detective Dennis Kilcoyne, head of the task force investigating the killings, told the Los Angeles Times.
Franklin was arrested Wednesday on 10 counts of murder and other charges in the deaths of young black women that started in the 1980s, then suddenly stopped, only to resume again 14 years later — sparking the nickname Grim Sleeper.
Franklin's public defender, Regina Laughney, said she's still reviewing materials in the case and it was too early for her to comment.
One of the victims was killed in July 2003, when records show Franklin should have been in county jail but was released early because of overcrowding.
Franklin pleaded no contest to receiving stolen property in that case, in which he was arrested at a Glendale mall driving a stolen luxury sport utility vehicle.
A probation officer said it was unusual and disturbing that Franklin was still involved in such crimes at age 50, when most criminals have slowed down.
A technique called "familial DNA" led detectives to Franklin. In early June, the state Department of Justice ran DNA from the case through a database of 1.5 million samples.
The database found no identical matches, but did find a "familial" match to a convicted felon whose DNA indicated he was either a brother or the son of the killer. An earlier search in 2008 had found no familial matches, but Franklin's son was added to the database in recent months for a felony weapons conviction.
An undercover officer pretending to be a waiter in Los Angeles collected tableware, napkins, glasses and pizza crust at a restaurant where Franklin ate, allowing detectives to obtain a DNA match.