Justice at Last for Grim Sleeper Victims

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Margaret Prescod, standing next to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, stand up for the victims of the Grim Sleeper/Dennis J. Freeman
Laverne Peters holds a photo of her daughter, Janecia Peters. Janecia Peters is the last victim of the Grim Sleeper./Dennis J. Freeman

By Dennis J. Freeman

Los Angeles-It’s been a long fight for Margaret Prescod. As a matter of fact, it’s been a 25-year fight for Prescod, co-founder of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, to see justice for the families of mostly black women found murdered in South Los Angeles.

After years of pushing and prodding the Los Angeles Police Department to speed up their investigation of the murders of these women, Presod showed some relief at a recent press conference last as the LAPD brass announced they had arrested the man they suspect of killing at least 10 people, including sexually assaulting his victims. A former police mechanic, Lonnie Franklin, was arrested at his home in South Los Angeles in connection with the murders.

The murders began in August 1985, when the body of Debra Jackson was found. Janecia Peters’ murder culminated the killer’s rampage. Most of the murders Franklin is accused of, took place between 1985 and 1988. The killing spree started up again in 2002. There could be another serial killer out there, said Prescod. Prescod said there may be as many as 45 of other unsolved killings of black women in the immediate area.

“We don’t want to white wash the fact that there are all these other murders that have not been linked to this particular killer,” Prescod said. “We want those crimes to be solved as well.”  

 Prescod is not giving the LAPD a pass on this issue. She said if the victims were white women, the case would probably be closed now.

“Everybody knows that if this many women were killed, even one or two, in Beverly Hills or Marin County or whatever it is, do you think that 25 years later, we would be here where we are today?  It is an outrage. It’s a piece of racism.”

The trail of blood began 25 years ago. The pattern of the blood trial left by accused Grim Sleeper didn’t move any charts with the local media. For 22 years, Franklin, 57, allegedly preyed on wayward victims in the neighborhood he lived and roamed-in and around South Los Angeles.

Ten of the 12 of his alleged victims, after he sexually accosted them, met violent, untimely deaths. Their bodies were thrown in garbage bags, thrown in dumpsters and basically discarded as if they were part of the grim scenario that make up some neighborhoods in South Los Angeles.

For years, people either didn’t show they cared or were indifferent to the outcome of these hideous crimes. They care now.  Police gathered DNA that linked Franklin to the murders. Family members of Franklin’s alleged victims were relieved he was finally nabbed.  

“It’s a feeling that you can’t really put the words to how much your body can carry when you lose your child,” said Porter Alexander, the father of Alicia Alexander, the eighth victim in the serial killer’s murder spree. “And then when you get a call that they have found a suspect, and confirm it, it’s just a relief that you can never imagine. When I got the call yesterday, and they told me this, I just said to myself, ‘Is this real? Is it going to stand up? Is it hope? When they told me it was a certainty, I just felt so good about it.’”

Laverne Peters, mother of the last slaying victim, said she had spoken to her daughter, Janecia, the day before she was murdered on New Year’s Day, 2007. Janecia seemed really excited that she had found her own place to live, said Laverne.  

“She was a very nice person, very easy to get along with,” Laverne Peters said. “She just basically ran into the wrong person. I believe that is how that happened. As her mother, I was pushing her to succeed. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Watts, South Central (now South Los Angeles), wherever you’re living. She still should have had her chance to live. We had a pleasant conversation. Her sister’s birthday was the next day. I thought she was going out to celebrate with her sister.”