Lonnie Franklin Jr., the convicted “Grim Sleeper” serial killer has died in prison, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation said Sunday. He was 67.
Franklin was found unresponsive in his cell at San Quentin State Prison on Saturday around 7:20 p.m.
“Medical assistance was rendered and an ambulance was summoned. Franklin was pronounced deceased at 7:43 p.m.,” corrections officials said in a press release. “His cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy; however, there were no signs of trauma.”
Franklin preyed on women in South Los Angeles for more than two decades. The stepmother of one of his victims reacted to the news of his death.
“I’m shocked,” Diana Ware told People magazine. “I won’t say I’m pleased he died but at the end there was justice for all the bad things he did in his life. We can now be at peace.”
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Franklin was on death row for the murders of nine women and one teenage girl between 1985 and 2007. He earned the moniker “Grim Sleeper” after taking a 14-year break.
He targeted women who were prostitutes or drug addicts in South L.A., and usually left the victims’ naked bodies on the side of the road or in the trash.
For years, the crimes went unsolved, with residents complaining that police ignored the cases because the victims were mostly poor and black.
Franklin was convicted in 2016, and sentenced to death on Aug. 10, 2016, for 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
He was arrested after an LAPD task force linked him to the crimes via what’s known as familial DNA testing. Police said DNA from Franklin’s son, which was in a database following his arrest, showed genetic similarities to evidence on the bodies of the victims.
Detectives tracked the elder Franklin and lifted DNA from utensils and a partially eaten slice of pizza he left at a pizza joint. Lab results confirmed Franklin was the “Grim Sleeper” killer. Investigators later found a handgun used in one of the killings and photos of the victims in Franklin’s house.
Detectives believe Franklin may have been responsible for at least 25 killings.