Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Lonnie David Franklin Jr: The Grim Sleeper

The alleged mass murderer next door

Lonnie David Franklin
Lonnie David Franklin

Almost immediately, the news reports began reporting the clichéd litany of neighbors' comments to the revelation of a murder suspect among them:

"He seemed like such a nice guy."

"He's a very good guy. I don't believe it," Andre Wynn told the Associated Press.

One neighbor told the Los Angeles Times: "I've been here since 1976 — that's how long I've known him. I'm not pretty shocked, I'm all the way shocked."

Franklin was described by neighbors as the local handyman, the neighborhood mechanic whom residents would call instead of AAA.

Donna Harris, a neighbor, told ABC News "Everybody on the block, we all knew if anything was happening with anybody's cars, he was always there for us," before adding, perhaps ominously, "Especially the ladies."

Dante Combs, a neighbor, told the Los Angeles Times that he was the type who would "put up your Christmas lights" and would help the elderly with errands.

True to the profile, he was 57. He had held a steady job for many years, as a trash collector, and was retired.

And it turned out that he had been under the nose of police the whole time. He had once worked at the 77th Street police station as a mechanic, according to AP reports.

Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement, "We never gave up on this investigation, not for one minute. Our detectives worked relentlessly following up on every lead they received. Their hard work has resulted in today's apprehension of this vicious killer. I am hopeful that the hard work of these men and women will bring some closure to the families who tragically lost loved ones during the last 23 years."

As Dante Combs told the Los Angeles Times, "As far as I know, he couldn't be this man," he said. "Then again, you never really know a man."

We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'