LOS ANGELES (AP) — Perhaps the “Grim Sleeper” never took a break after all.
Police on Thursday were investigating two additional homicides that could be tied to Lonnie Franklin Jr., a mechanic who already has been charged with killing 10 women from 1985 to 1988 and from 2002 to 2007.
The 14-year pause led to the nickname “Grim Sleeper.”
Detective Dennis Kilcoyne said Franklin might also be responsible for the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in South Los Angeles in the 1990s. No charges have been filed in those cases.
“I don’t think there is a gap,” Kilcoyne said. “He was here, he was active. I don’t think you stop one day, take a 14-year vacation and then start up again.”
Kilcoyne released few details about the additional cases but said the bodies were found in the same general area as other victims. He would not say if there was DNA evidence tying Franklin to the two women, as was the case in several of the deaths that led to charges.
Most of the victims linked to the “Grim Sleeper” were found in alleyways within a few miles of Franklin’s mint-green stucco home a few miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Those victims were shot, strangled or both, usually after some kind of sexual contact. Several were prostitutes.
Detectives were led to Franklin after his son was arrested on an unrelated matter and swabbed for DNA. Using a controversial technique known as a familial DNA search, the sample came back as similar to evidence in the serial killings, leading police to investigate relatives of the man who was arrested.
Franklin has pleaded not guilty. A call to his attorney Louisa Pensanti was not immediately returned.
After Franklin’s arrest in July, detectives spent days searching his house and garage for evidence. They seized a stash of hundreds of photographs and hours of home videotape of women, many of whom were engaged in sexually explicit behavior.
Fearing there may be additional victims, detectives released images of dozens of the women and asked for the public’s help identifying them.
Kilcoyne said 72 women in the pictures have been identified and ruled out as victims, and four new missing person cases have been opened involving people in the photos.
Women in 62 pictures have yet to be identified.
The women in the two additional homicide cases were not depicted in the photos, Kilcoyne said.
The initial killings occurred during a time of extreme violence in parts of Los Angeles, when many young women were falling prey to crack cocaine and other drug addictions.
As many as 30 detectives investigated the slayings in the 1980s but exhausted leads within a few years.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.