Black serial killers are a rarity. The most infamous being the Atlanta child murderer, Wayne Williams. Perhaps they are not as rare as police profiles indicate, and it is just that their victims tend to get ignored.
For more than 20 years an elusive killer dubbed the Grim Sleeper walked the streets of south Los Angeles, California.
The killer targeted black women, some of them working as prostitutes, shooting most of them with the same small-caliber gun.
Police combed the neighborhood where the killings occurred — a low-income area.
But some have said that because of the low-income profile of the area and the victims, the slayings were pushed aside as unrelated incidents.
Police eventually got the killer’s DNA and ballistics evidence, which allowed them to link at least 10 murders. But for years they could not match the DNA.
Then on Wednesday, police announced they believed they finally had their man, Lonnie David Franklin Jr.
Franklin, 57, is a former city trash collector who at one time worked as a garage attendant at an LAPD station and used his mechanical skills to help out around the neighborhood.
The same neighborhood was littered with composite sketches of the suspect. But police say nobody said anything about noticing the resemblance to Franklin who lived just eight blocks from one the sketches.
His arrest came as a shock to neighbors who said they knew him as a guy who helped fix their cars — on the same street near where police say he allegedly dumped his victims’ bodies.
Vehicles were a focus for detectives during their investigation. His only surviving victim told police after her escape that the suspect was driving an orange Ford Pinto when he picked her up.
One of Franklin’s neighbors said he was seen driving an orange Pinto once or twice. But the neighbor thought nothing of it, not knowing about the vehicle’s relationship to the case and not suspecting anything because Franklin was known as a “fix-it” man who always drove different cars he was working on.