Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Lonnie David Franklin Jr: The Grim Sleeper

Renewed interest

The story sparked a renewed interest in the case—international news media covered the serial killer with the awkward name. And many of the victims' families and people in the communities were upset that they hadn't been alerted to the fact that the murders were all seemingly connected until recently. After the damn broke, Kilcoyne told "We don't know who he is, but his numbers are building. Once we are done, I am quite confident this will exceed anything we have ever seen in the city."

Barbara Ware
Barbara Ware

Hoping to strike while the iron was hot—the cops released a series of new and updated information—first, in February 2009, they released a 20-year old 911 call; then, in November 2009, they released three versions of a sketch based on Margette's description, aged to represent the likely appearance of the assailant in his mid-50s. And, in May 2009, they plastered the city with billboards depicting all 11 of the victims and touting a $500,000 reward, the largest amount ever offered by the city of Los Angeles in a criminal case.

The February 2009 police news release focused on the case of Barbara Ware who had been found dead on January 10, 1987. That night, the police had received a weird call. The caller on the tape was calm and collected, especially for someone who claimed to be reporting a murder. He patiently told the operator the license plate number of a large blue and white van parked in an alley near 1346 East 56th Street.

"Yes, I'd like to report a murder, a dead body or something," he began. "And the guy that dropped her off was driving as white and blue Dodge van," and proceeded to give the license plate.

When the dispatcher was unable to understand the numbers and letters, he walked her through it.

"OK, are you saying 'T' like in Tom?"

"'P' like in puppy."

"'P' What?"

"Like in Zebra?"

After he finishes the license plate description, he explains that it's been 30 minutes since he saw the murder happen. "'cause I'm down the street at the bottom, so it happened about 30 minutes ago..... and, er, you know he like, he threw her out and the only thing that's hanging out is he threw a gas tank on top of her and, eh, and, eh, the only thing you can see out is her feet."

When they ask for his name, he declines, saying, "Oh, I'm staying anonymous... I know too many people....Okay then. Bye-bye."

With that he hung up. The police arrived in less than an hour to find the body exactly where it had been reported to be. According the LAPD's news release, "the caller had described the Barbara Ware crime scene exactly how responding uniformed officers and detectives documented the scene."

The van was found a few miles away, still hot from use. They were so close, yet so far. The van was registered to a church, The Cosmopolitan Church, but at the time of the original investigation, no connections were made between members of the church and the crime. Later, police had even gone so far as to exhume the body of the pastor and had a DNA test run on him. There was no match.

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