They said he would do anything for his neighbors. He was a mechanic and worked on his neighbors’ cars for practically nothing, charging $15-20 where an outside mechanic might have charged $150-$200. He also only charged the true price of the parts he used, not an inflated price like outside mechanics used to inflate their profit.
He he was arrested for murder in 2010 and tried for killing eight women and a man (probably knew who he was) and a teen, and convicted in 2016, the trial delayed because of legal aspects involving so many murders. His neighbors still have trouble believing they had the right man. But they did. DNA proved it. Lonnie Franklin, Jr.
When he first committed the murders DNA didn’t even exist. His first murders spanned 1985-1988. And then to the best of the police’s knowledge he stopped killing for 14 years until 2002.
Did he stop killing during that time? I doubt it.
He worked for a while in the city of Los Angeles maintenance department as a mechanic before switching over to the sanitation department. Some of the murdered women were found along his sanitation route, covered with an old rug, or anything else that provided a measure of partial cover. He didn’t seem to be concerned if they were found.
Police originally called him the Southside Slayer, but later adopted another name for him when a writer deemed him the “Grim Sleeper” because of his supposed 14-year hiatus from killing.
When the police searched his home, behind a wall they found any number of pictures of women. They eventually settled on 180 that were unidentified, and put that out as public information. That number was whittled down to 35 who could not be accounted for. Some of the 180 women appeared to be unconscious. They might have been dead.
I don’t really think he decided to stop killing for fourteen years. He probably just discovered a better way to dispose of the bodies. Sometimes killers come up with exotic ways to dispose of a body or bodies. It would not have surprised me if he was running a sanitation route, and if he and the driver were the only ones on the truck that day, for him to toss a body in the back of the truck, and to rev up the compactor, and wind up with the body in the middle of the garbage, only to be dumped and incinerated when the truck was returned to the collection point.
Or he might have stashed some bodies in the trunk of his car, and dumped them in a place no one has discovered yet.
It wasn’t like he was nervous about killing. And even if the L. A. police stopped him with a body in the trunk of his car, once he told them he worked for the L. A. Sanitation Department, I doubt they would have even searched his car.
When DNA was in widespread use, they should have already had his DNA in the data base, but there was some quirk about him being on probation for one or two minor instances, and those on probation did not have their DNA in the data base at the time.
He was caught by what they call a familial search, meaning is the DNA of a close relative in the data base. There was. His son. He had been arrested on a gun charge, which is a felony, and felons are entered in the data base. They got a match to Lonnie Franklin, Jr., his father.
It took the police a while to get his DNA, because they did not have probable cause to go to a judge to get an order from him to require a DNA.
According to ID TV, which ran a story about this, it was only when Lonnie Franklin, Jr. and some friends were at a fast food that a policeman dressed as a waiter cleaned off their table, and confiscated a fork, knife, and drinking cup that he had used, and a piece of pizza that he had partially eaten, that they were able to match Lonnie Franklin, Jr.’s DNA to the murders. Odd as it seems, the only sufficient DNA was on the totally cold, solidified cheese of the pizza that provided sufficient DNA. That shows you how thorough the police are at times.
Even today after he has been in jail going on a year I think you would have trouble believing he is a murderer. He certainly did not look like one other than his orange jumpsuit when he was in court during his arraignment.
I know most murderers don’t go into court and snarl at everybody (some do) and don’t look like murderers, and their defense attorneys have them cleaned up to where they look like they will be singing in the church choir on Sunday, but Lonnie Franklin, Jr. looked like a fellow who at 64 in 2016 was approaching his retirement years with a great deal of pleasure. Possibly he felt like if he did not have to work, he would have that much more time to kill. That might have been his thinking. Or maybe he would have decided to do more good in his neighborhood. Who knows?
I guess he could have taken the insanity plea before his trial, but he didn’t. His lawyer played it straight up, and lost. Lonnie Franklin, Jr. got the death penalty.
Considering his age, and the appeals process in California, I think he will die a natural death before they ever get around to executing him. Whether that will bring closure to the relatives of the murder victims, you will have to ask them.