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Thursday, November 19, 2015

TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER, PT 1




Do you remember “The Grim Sleeper.”




Have you even heard of the “The Grim Sleeper” before?


Do you instantly recognize the name “Lonnie Franklin?"

 


I whizzed past “Tales Of The Grim Sleeper”  in the TV schedule then came back to it because I'd seen a black woman’s face near the title.

When I saw the name of the documentary and the black woman's face together, it came back to me.  “The Grim Sleeper” was the name given to a serial killer that murdered dozens if not 100s of black women over 25 years beginning in the 1980s.

Watching “The Grim Sleeper” documentary on HBO made me a little sick. I didn't want to watch it in the first place. I thought it would make my ears bleed to hear even one excuse for dozens of black women being murdered by a serial killer for 25 years without too many people noticing. This is especially galling since the police knew a serial killer was hunting black women in South Los Angeles by 1987 but didn't let the public know, didn't let black women in the South Los Angeles area know they were prey until 2008.



In 1985, Margaret Prescod started a black women’s group called “Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders.” She was handing out leaflets on the victims of an unknown serial killer in 1985. But leaflets were not enough. People virtually around the corner from where a body was found didn't know there was a serial killer in their midst. The police needed to make an announcement to the news outlets and they didn't let black women know they were being stalked for 22 years

It's possible that Lonnie Franklin killed hundreds of black women. The number being thrown around as the possible number of victims stands at 180.


 Cops not moving due to racism is old news. Cops not moving due to the sexism and misogyny involved in not caring about sex workers, prostitutes, or “ho-s” is not new either. Yet I have to admit I was shocked when I found out that The Grim Sleeper’s sole survivor, “Anitra” Wilson, went to the police in 1988 and not 2010 when Lonnie Franklin was finally arrested like I'd assumed.

Police ignored Wilson as "unreliable" for years because they assumed that she was a hooker. And they assumed she was a hooker because she's black. (I've experienced this personally from white men at malls and art galleries) And hookers are some of those whom police "used to" mark as NHI (No Humans Involved) on police reports, when they are hurt or murdered as a way of prioritizing their caseload, obviously.

My mouth fell open again when I found out that that Wilson also had a police sketch done of the killer and took police directly to Lonnie Franklin’s street, only to misidentify a house only two doors down from Franklin’s as the one belonging to the man that offered her a ride, shot, and raped her. Again, all of this happened in 1988 not 2010 when this killer was caught.


Prescod and her 
Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders and victim's parents had been pressing police to catch this serial killer for years. Yet they didn’t get to see the Wilson sketch of the killer for a decade.

How many dozens of black women died between 1988 when Wilson took police to Franklin's street and 2010? We'll probably never know. For a while police thought this serial killer had stopped killing for 14 years then resumed, hence the nickname "The Grim Sleeper." But now it looks like he just got better at disposing of the bodies. (Franklin worked as a sanitation worker, a loader at the dump for a while.) 

Still, there was so much more than racism and the usual lack of white police interest behind the Grim Sleeper’s ability to kill so many black women.

Lonnie Franklin was able use South Los Angeles like his own personal game reserve because the murderers of sex-workers, prostitutes, hookers, or hoes, whatever they’re being called at the moment, are rarely hunted down with any vigor, regardless of color.  Women that fall off the virtuous woman pedestal into the pit of "hoes" are treated like so much garbage by police, rappers, and communities, including black communities.

Somebody other than Prescod and her group should have noticed so many black women were showing up dead, shot by the same caliber weapon or strangled - in a "tight knit community" where people have lived for multiple generations according friends of Franklin's.

Arthur Shawcross killed 12 white women, mostly prostitutes, in upstate New York and was hunted down within 3 years. The Grim Sleeper, by comparison, killed dozens if not hundreds of black women over 25 years and was never actually hunted down so much as stumbled upon.


Franklin’s son was arrested. The son’s DNA led to the father, whose DNA was on the breast of at least one murder victim.  At Lonnie Franklin’s home, police found 180 photos of black women, many of them missing, some of them the faces of murder victims whose bodies have been found over the years.  At Franklin’s home, police also found the gun that was used to kill a number of women


In addition to Franklin’s sanitation job, the crack epidemic in South L.A. appears to have made it easy to hide a few bodies among so many bodies dropping dead anyway in the 80s and 90s

The underground economy in the hood (due to legitimate industry and jobs having moved to the suburbs) also enabled him to dispose of bodies with relative ease.
Franklin himself fenced stolen goods, mostly stolen cars and stolen car parts in addition to his straight, legit jobs. This made him the “rich one” in the neighborhood, the go-to guy for whatever you need, and more importantly the go-to guy to get a job.

One man admitted that he was paid to burn a blood soaked car for Franklin, thinking that he burning another car as part of Lonnie’s insurance scam business. Franklin also paid a friend that had a (likely off the books) carpet cleaning business. This man likely cleaned the murder sites (van and mobile home) He said he got rid of a hard to get rid stain, like oil but he knew wasn’t oil.  

Crime, some serious and some not so serious -all the usual parts of the alternate economy that comes to exist in destitute neighborhoods, enabled Franklin to get rid of bodies and blood. But it was the sexism and misogynoir in this same neighborhood that enabled Franklin to lure his victims and kill them without anybody noticing.


Photo #147  “Delashaun” (not shown) of Lonnie Franklin's photo collection is one of those women that is still alive.  She turned out to be Christopher Franklin's, his son's, high school girlfriend.  Her photo was mixed in with what appears to be his father's “sexual conquests,” and murder victims  

“Delashaun” said she spent a lot of time at the Franklin house when she was in 11th grade.  A decade or so later(?), she described the Franklin's at home: 

 “They seemed normal typical family.  If you ever needed anything, he’d get for you. Don’t ask questions. He would go and beyond to help you…

He would have a conversation with you. During that conversation, something perverted would come out. That’s just who he was.  He was just a horny old man. That’s exactly how everybody would look at him. A horny old man. 


When she was alone with the son, Chris Franklin, in his bedroom. She said, "You could tell he was listening at the door. Sometimes it seemed like he was a pervert."

When she asked Lonnie Franklin why he had three cell phone, she he told her that  his third phone was for his hoes, his crackheads.




THE GRIM SLEEPER PART 2 TOMORROW

"Amateur Photography Club"
Franklin's First Wife
Franklin's Current Wife (at time of the arrest)
Witness to torture
Other survivors