LAPD robbery homicide officers arrested Lonnie David Franklin, who is suspected to have murdered at least 10 prostitutes in South Los Angeles in a 22-year period that included a 13-year gap, the department announced.
Franklin is thought to be the "Grim Sleeper" killer who began killing women in 1985. The deaths have been linked via DNA collected from the bodies of the women, who were sexually assaulted and often left for dead in alleys and covered in debris with gunshot wounds to the chest from a small-caliber gun.
LAPD detectives identified Franklin, 57, over the weekend, using rarely used DNA matching software that's available only in California and Colorado. The California Department of Justice carried out the DNA "familial search" after Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown approved the use of the relatively new tool, according to Sandi Gibbons, public information officer with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
"There was a match with a close family member, which led to the defendent," Gibbons told POLICE Magazine. "Undercover officers then were able to get a direct DNA sample after the defendent had eaten at a pizza parlor."
Detectives obtained Franklin's DNA over the weekend after following him and collecting a piece of pizza he had partially eaten.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck's predecessor William Bratton formed a task force in 2007 that had been excluisively investigating the case.
"We never gave up on this investigation, not for one minute," Beck said in an announcement of the arrest. "Our detectives worked relentlessly following up on every lead they received. Their hard work has resulted in today's (Wednesday) apprehension of this vicious killer."