A story for every victim

Grim Sleeper killings: Debra Jackson, 29, in 1985

Debra Jackson (1985-08-10)

Debra Jackson, a 29-year old black woman, was shot three times in the chest and her body was found Aug. 10, 1985, in an alley near West Gage Avenue in the Vermont-Slauson area, authorities said.

She is the first known victim of a serial killer later dubbed "the Grim Sleeper." 

At the time of Jackson's death, the city was in a particularly dark period, when widespread cocaine use, rampant crime and vicious killings were rife in South Los Angeles. 

Three years passed before police realized that something larger was occurring, when ballistics tests showed that the same handgun used to kill Jackson had been used in seven other killings.

On July 7, 2010, authorities arrested Lonnie David Franklin Jr., a 57-year old black man, at his home in South Los Angeles after police said they made DNA matches linking him to Jackson's killing, as well as others dating from her death to 2007. 

Map shows location of Franklin's home [purple marker] and locations where Grim Sleeper's victims were found [in red]. Click for more details.

Prosecutors said they have charged Franklin with 10 counts of murder, noting that he is eligible for the death penalty. He has not been charged in the 1986 shooting death of Thomas Steele, a 36-year old black man, although authorities believe Steele's killing is connected to the other cases.

Franklin is a former city trash collector who at one time worked as a vehicle mechanic at an LAPD station, sources said.

-- Joel Rubin and Richard Winton

Map shows location of home of Lonnie David Franklin, Jr. and the locations of where the Grim Sleeper's victims were found. Click for more details.

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