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LAPD again seeks aid in identifying victims of alleged killer

Police tell community meeting in South L.A. that they have linked Lonnie Franklin Jr., accused of murdering 10 women, to six more slayings. But police won't seek new charges, fearing his trial could be delayed.

November 03, 2011|By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times
  • Los Angeles Councilman and former LAPD Chief Bernard Parks joins families of victims believed slain by Lonnie Franklin Jr. at Bethel A.M.E. Church in South Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Councilman and former LAPD Chief Bernard Parks joins families… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Top Los Angeles police officials renewed their call Wednesday evening for help from the public in identifying possible victims of alleged serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr.

During a sparsely attended community meeting at Bethel A.M.E. Church in South Los Angeles, officials also provided information on six more women they say were slain by Franklin.

Detectives said they have linked Franklin, 59, to the six additional killings, bringing the total number of women he is believed to have slain to 16. Franklin is already charged with murder in the slayings of 10 women whose bodies were found on the streets of South Los Angeles over two decades. Police also said at the meeting that they have identified a second woman they say survived an attack by Franklin.

At least two of the newly identified six victims were tied to Franklin through physical evidence, police said. In one of those cases, authorities said, ballistic evidence showed that the bullets used in the slaying were fired from a gun Franklin is accused of using in other killings. DNA and ballistic tests connected him to another woman, police said.

Franklin's link to the other three cases is more circumstantial. Police concluded that Franklin killed one woman based on a 911 call made at the time of the slaying to report the location of the body. Police have matched the caller's voice to Franklin's. Police believe Franklin made a similar call in one of the cases in which he has been charged.

The remaining two victims were reported missing years ago and have never been found. But possessions of theirs were discovered at Franklin's house, leading police to conclude that he killed them.

Police Chief Charlie Beck and others urged those in attendance and news media to help police identify women in photographs discovered at Franklin's home. Last year, police published the faces of the roughly 180 women. They are still trying to identify 48 of them.

"We may never know how many young women Lonnie Franklin killed, but we are going to do all we can to find out," Beck said.

Police have made the decision not to seek additional charges in the new cases. With the case against Franklin moving slowly toward trial as prosecutors and Franklin's attorney wade through massive amounts of complex evidence, adding more charges, police feared, could lead to long delays and unnecessarily complicate matters.

Prosecutors have alleged that Franklin, a former LAPD garage attendant and city garbage collector, sexually assaulted and killed women on the margins of society over nearly a quarter of a century. Seven of the women he is accused of killing died between 1985 and 1988 and the others between 2002 and 2007. Franklin has pleaded not guilty and remains in custody. Along with 10 murder charges, he also is charged with one count of attempted murder.

Franklin's attorney, Louisa Pensanti, criticized the department's decision to announce Franklin's alleged ties to the additional killings but not seek new charges. That move, she said, did not allow Franklin to defend himself against the allegations.

joel.rubin@latimes.com

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