Will The "Grim Sleeper" Get The Death Penalty? He Came Eerily Close To Walking Free

View of the Domenjod prison on October 16, 2014 in Saint-Denis de la Reunion on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion. AFP PHOTO RICHARD BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images

After a decades-long lull and an intensive police investigation, a serial killer known as the "Grim Sleeper" has finally been convicted of murder this week. Originally active in the '80s, Lonnie David Franklin, Jr. was later dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" due to a 13-year gap in his killings. This gap could have unfairly allowed Franklin to walk free, if it weren't for updated DNA technology that allowed prosecutors to finally identify him as the culprit. The "Grim Sleeper" lives up to his name, too — the story of his killings seem to be just as demented as if they came from the Grim Reaper himself.

Franklin has been charged with murdering nine women and one girl between the ages of 15 to 35 over three decades, making him one of the most notorious serial killers in the history of California. A former garbage truck driver, Franklin seemed to take cues from his job and performed "body dumps," leaving his victims in dumpsters near his home. All of his victims were similarly found in dumpsters or alleyways.

Now, the court will be asked to decide whether the man's crimes warranted the death penalty. The initial hearing begins next week.

Thankfully however, one of his victims survived the assault, and was able to speak on behalf of herself and Franklin's other victims. The prosecution said that the victim, Enietra Washington, essentially provided a blueprint for how the "Grim Sleeper" carried out his crimes. In front of jurors, Washington detailed how Franklin lured her into his car and shot her in the chest without warning. Before losing consciousness, she said Franklin climbed on top of her and took a photo. The photo of Washington was found hidden behind a wall decades later when investigators searched Franklin's home.

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The path to catch Franklin spanned years. The first seven murders began in 1985, but police were only able to link the killings to a single handgun. Thankfully, updated DNA technology was finally responsible for putting Franklin behind bars. After law enforcement made a match, an undercover cop posed as a waiter and picked up a new swatch of saliva from Franklin off of a piece of pizza crust. That saliva and positive match in the DNA sample ultimately led to his arrest.

Franklin reportedly showed no emotion during his trial, and the victims' families were told to withhold their emotions as well. The "Grim Sleeper" is known for his extremely callous nature, laughing at photos of victims during interviews with officers. One of the victim's family members said of Franklin: "He doesn't value life. He doesn't care."

Despite his lack of emotions over the conviction, justice was finally served in the case of the "Grim Sleeper" now that Franklin is behind bars.

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