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Sketches show what South L.A. serial killer might look like today

The images of a graying, heavier man are based on a description given to police by the only woman known to have survived one of his attacks. He is believed responsible for at least 11 deaths.

December 18, 2009|By Joel Rubin
  • The LAPD hopes these images might jog the memory of someone familiar with the killer.
The LAPD hopes these images might jog the memory of someone familiar with… (Los Angeles Police Department )

In the ongoing search for a serial killer who has claimed at least 11 lives in South Los Angeles since 1985, police officials released a series of sketches Thursday that picture what the killer might look like today.

The three new sketches were based on a description given to police in 1988 by the only woman known to have survived an attack by the man.

Deputy Chief Jim McDonnell, head of detectives for the Los Angeles Police Department, said he hopes the images will jog the memory of someone familiar with the killer.

"We believe this case is very solvable. Someone out there has a piece of information that we need," he said. "It may seem to them so insignificant, so small. . . . To us it might be the missing piece of the puzzle that we've been looking for."

Despite McDonnell's optimism, there has been little reason so far to be hopeful that police will someday catch the killer. Long stretches of time between known slayings and a disjointed, often dormant investigation that spanned different generations of detectives left police unclear for years that a single man was responsible for the string of killings.

All the victims, except one man, were young, black women often involved in drugs and prostitution. When the killer was linked through DNA tests to another victim in 2007, a task force of veteran LAPD homicide detectives was formed to hunt the man.

Searches of DNA felon databases for the killer or his family members and painstaking efforts to track down the prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers and others who may know him have turned up little.

The release of sketches showing a graying and heavier man is the latest effort by detectives and elected officials to keep the story in the media spotlight to generate tips from the public.

joel.rubin@latimes.com

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