Here in Los Angeles, the big story today is the capture
of a suspect
in the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer case, so named because the killer apparently went dormant for a decade
before resuming his murderous behavior.
The suspect, Lonnie David Franklin Jr. (photo below), once worked for the LAPD. He was nabbed with "familial DNA". His son's DNA was a close, but not precise, match with DNA found at the scene of murders, and Franklin's DNA was later reportedly confirmed as a match when investigators swabbed traces left behind after he ate at a local pizza parlor.
There's an internet rumor floating around that this Google Street View link shows the suspect, who worked as a sort of freelance car repair guy around the neighborhood. Authorities have not confirmed that the address is Franklin's, but local TV and papers have reported it as such (after eavesdropping on LAPD scanner radio). The Street View link does snow a shot of someone in front of a green house working on a car at that address, but we don't know who that person is.
The killer is said to have focused primarily on black women, specifically prostitutes and "party girls."
As far as I know, this is the first "familial DNA" arrest in California. There are some concerning privacy implications, particularly when one combines physical data-gathering (collecting DNA not just from the suspect but from relatives or others in the suspect's social network) with the sort of ambient, online data-gathering manifest in services like Google Street View. No one will argue that a serial killer should roam free, or that all available technology shouldn't be used to solve violent crimes, particularly a case involving as many deaths over as many decades as this one does. But how might these technologies be mis-used in the future? Guess we'll find out.
(thanks, Andrea James)
Update: The address shown in the Street View link (screengrab below) certainly does appear to be confirmed as belonging to the suspect jailed today. A public records property search shows: 1728 W. 81st St N/A Lonnie D Franklin Jr and Y Sylvia South Los Angeles.
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