That the terrible, slow-motion slaughter known as California’s Grim Sleeper case became known to the public owes to the obsessive reporting of Christine Pelisek, an investigative reporter for the LA Weekly, says the Los Angeles Times. How deep did reporter Pelisek get into the case? So deep that the victims’ families demanded she sit in on a mass meeting with police. So deep that people she had never met delivered hunches and a napkin smeared with a semen sample. So deep that the mystery figure killing young black women seemed to pop up everywhere, even in her dreams.
When police finally identified and arrested Lonnie David Franklin Jr. last week in connection with a string of 10 killings dating to the 1980s, the credit went largely to an innovation that allowed criminals to be tracked through their relatives’ DNA. The reporter succeeded in getting hesitant police investigators to drop the veil of secrecy around their work and acknowledge their hunt for a suspect Pelisek described as “a monstrous phoenix.” Her 2008 story spread the word to poor and working-class residents of South L.A. about the menace lingering in their community.