“Grim Sleeper” Serial Killer Receives Death Sentence for LA Murders

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The serial killer known as the “Grim Sleeper” was sentenced to death by the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday. His real name is Lonnie David Franklin Jr, now 63. His story plays like a horror movie.

Franklin used to work as a garbage collector in Los Angeles, where he killed at least 10 young women in the span of 22 years, from 1985 to 2007. He got his nickname because he seemed to be inactive between 1988 and 2002. But detectives believe he might have killed many more women within those years, and maybe wasn’t inactive at all.

Franklin faced the court on Wednesday morning with many family members of his victims present. He was convicted earlier this year of killing ten women. Investigators said he repeatedly denied killing anyone, and he didn’t utter a word at the trial. His defense lawyers suggested the real killer was someone else, and asked for his life to be spared.

Some people in the community say the “Grim Sleeper” was probably able to carry on his horrible killings for so long because he targeted poor, black women who were either drug addicts or prostitutes. Such women were not always reported missing, and were not high priorities for police.

In most of the murders, Franklin shot them and then left them in the trash or along the road. But one of his shooting victims managed to get away, and her statement, combined with DNA and ballistic evidence, led to Franklin’s conviction.

Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman described Franklin in her brief as “a psychopathic, sadistic serial killer who takes joy in inflicting pain on women and killing them.”

The mother of one victim said in court that he took her daughter’s life and put her in a trash bag. She hoped life in jail would become his trash bag, she said. But Judge Kathleen Kennedy gave him the death penalty, saying, “This is not a sentence of vengeance.” She added: “It’s justice.”

Emma Von Zeipel
Emma Von Zeipel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. She is originally from one of the islands of Stockholm, Sweden. After working for Democratic Voice of Burma in Thailand, she ended up in New York City. She has a BA in journalism from Stockholm University and is passionate about human rights, good books, horses, and European chocolate. Contact Emma at



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