In July, when Los Angeles police arrested Lonnie Franklin Jr., the suspected Grim Sleeper serial killer, they scoured his property for evidence. Among the unsettling discoveries was a cache of about 1,000 photographs and hundreds of hours of home video showing women, many of them partly or fully nude and striking sexually graphic poses, reports the Los Angeles Times. It was an eerie find in a case involving a man who is thought to have sexually assaulted his victims before or after killing them.
Police also cannot account for large swaths of Franklin’s life, including a 14-year gap between his alleged killings, during which investigators suspect he killed other women. Detectives set out to identify the women on the film and tape, knowing that some could be additional homicide victims. There were several photos of each woman, and police whittled the collection down to 180 images. After trying unsuccessfully to identify the women, police turned to the public yesterday for help. At a news conference, they released cropped versions of the images that show the women’s faces, hoping the women themselves, their family members or acquaintances will recognize them and contact investigators. Police said they were sensitive to the harm and embarrassment the release of the photographs could cause women who never told their family or friends about the encounters. In the end, they decided that the need to identify the women outweighed the potential harm.