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Friday, December 17, 2010

LAPD Releases 180 Photos in 'Grim Sleeper' Case

(Dec. 16) -- Authorities in California are hoping the release of nearly 200 photos found in the possession of a suspected serial killer will prompt people to come forward with information.

The photos are among thousands that police recovered from the home ofLonnie Franklin Jr., a 57-year-old retired auto mechanic who was arrestedin July, after DNA evidence allegedly linked him to the killings of 10 women that occurred from 1985 to 1988 and from 2002 to 2007.

All of the victims were black, and many were prostitutes. The victims were shot with a handgun or strangled. Their bodies were dumped in alleyways and trash bins, authorities said.

A Los Angeles police officer prepares to release photographs found in the possession of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. before a news conference in Los Angeles, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010.
Jae C. Hong, AP
Los Angeles police are releasing 180 photos found in the possession of "Grim Sleeper" suspect Lonnie David Franklin Jr.
The serial killer was nicknamed the "Grim Sleeper" because of his unexplained 14-year hiatus.

The 180 photos were released this afternoon during a news conference and will remain available to the public on the police department's website. Some of the photos are duplicates, and police aren't sure exactly how many different people are represented in them.

"These people are not suspects. We don't even know if they are victims, but we do know this Lonnie Franklin's reign of terror in the city of Los Angeles was spanned well over two decades, culminating with almost a dozen murder victims. Certainly this to be investigated further," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.

Authorities have spent months trying to identify the women in the photos, police said. Now they are hoping the public will be able to recognize some of them.

"People must remember these photos go back 20 and 30 years. People will have changed their appearance and people will have aged," Beck said. "We are very interested in identifying these individuals and speaking with them, if it all possible."    
In August, Franklin pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder that involved a near-fatal assault on a woman who was raped, shot and left for dead in November 1988.

Franklin has been held without bail since his arrest. He could receive the death penalty if he is convicted.

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Jan. 31.

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