Serial killer known as the ‘Grim Sleeper’ found dead in prison

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The serial killer known as "the Grim Sleeper" was found dead Saturday at San Quentin State Prison Lonnie Franklin Jr. was 67. Authorities dubbed Franklin the Grim Sleeper because he paused his killing spree for more than a decade before resuming his crimes.

The serial killer known as “the Grim Sleeper,” who terrorized black communities in Los Angeles from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, was found dead Saturday at San Quentin State Prison, according to several news reports, citing California prison officials.

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Lonnie Franklin Jr. was found unresponsive in his jail cell and pronounced dead at 7:43 p.m., authorities announced Sunday. He was 67.

An official cause of death has not yet been determined, although there were no signs of foul play, the state Corrections Department said in a statement.

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An autopsy was planned.

The former mechanic kept a low profile as a city garbage collector and was once even a garage attendant for Los Angeles police, The Associated Press reported.

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More than 25 years elapsed between the time of the first slaying in 1985 and Franklin's arrest in 2010.

All of his victims were women. According to the AP, community leaders complained that police didn’t seriously investigate the killings because the victims were black and poor and many were drug users and prostitutes during the crack cocaine epidemic.

Authorities who ultimately tracked down Franklin dubbed him the Grim Sleeper because he paused his killing spree, going silent for more than a decade before resuming his brutal crimes.

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Seven of his victims were killed between 1985 and 1988, and the others were killed between 2002 and 2007.

Franklin was finally arrested in 2010 after DNA from his son was found in an arrest database and exposed a similar genetic profile as the ones found at the crime scenes.

A detective posed as a busboy at a pizza parlor and collected eating utensils that Franklin used and food that he ate while attending a birthday party, the AP reported.

Those DNA samples later exposed Franklin as the Grim Sleeper.

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Investigators found a gun used in one of the killings and photos of victims in Franklin’s house after his arrest, according to the AP.

He was convicted in August 2016 for the deaths of nine women and a teenage girl in Los Angeles and subsequently sentenced to death.

Although he was convicted in the deaths of nine, Franklin was a suspect in as many as 25 slayings, according to reports.

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The Associated Press reported Franklin was linked at trial to 14 slayings, including four women he wasn’t charged with killing.

Most of the victims were fatally shot at close range, the AP reported, and two were strangled. Franklin dumped the bodies in bushes, alleys and trash bins.

Last year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom halted the execution of more than 700 condemned inmates for at least the length of his term.

— Information provided by The Associated Press was used to supplement this report.