LA detectives seek to tie 8 women to serial killer
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ayellah Marshall loved playing basketball and singing rap music as a kid, but problems began after she started high school — drugs, dropping out, running away, teenage motherhood — until finally she left home and never returned.
Ayellah’s parents now fear she may have fallen victim to a South Los Angeles serial killer who preyed on troubled women over two decades starting in the 1980s.
“It’s painful, waiting daily, expecting to hear the worst,” said her father, Frank Marshall, who said the family hasn’t heard from Ayellah since the 18-year-old walked out in February 2005, leaving a baby girl in her parents’ care.
Los Angeles police on Tuesday released an image of Ayellah’s high school ID that was found last summer in the home of Lonnie Franklin Jr., who has been indicted on 10 counts of murder and one attempted murder in the so-called Grim Sleeper slayings.
Detectives fear Ayellah and two other women whose photos and IDs were found in a refrigerator in Franklin’s garage suffered the same fate as Janecia Peters, whom Franklin is charged with killing and whose picture was in the same stash.
Frank Marshall, a retired tailor who lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, said he’s hoping Ayellah is not another victim.
“We hate to see this,” he said. “We don’t know what to do. We just have to wait. We’d like some closure.”
Franklin has pleaded not guilty and is in jail awaiting trial. Detectives said Tuesday that they believe he could be responsible for up to eight additional murders, but the likelihood is strongest for the three women whose photos were found in the fridge.
Police asked for the public’s help in locating the three women and displayed their photos at a news conference, along with four others whose families reported them missing in the neighborhood where Franklin lived. The eighth additional victim is believed to be a woman whose 1988 killing remains unsolved.
“Obviously, we hope for the best, but the circumstances are gloomy,” said Detective Dennis Kilcoyne, who heads a task force dedicated to the case. “These women have not been seen in a long, long time.”
Kilcoyne said the small stash of photos in Franklin’s fridge was separate from pictures of hundreds of others of women, many sexually explicit, found throughout Franklin’s house. Since Peters was later found murdered, he said he fears the other women whose pictures were with hers met a similar fate.
“We feel there’s some significance to that,” the detective said.
Besides Ayellah Marshall’s ID, the small collection contained the Nevada ID and sexually explicit photos of Rolenia Morris, 29, who disappeared in September 2005. There also was a photo of an unidentified woman, another photo of a woman that was too dark to make out, and the picture of Peters, he said.
After Franklin’s arrest last July, family members brought to the attention of police another four missing women who detectives believe could be additional victims. They have been identified as: Cathern or Catherine Davis, 29, who has been missing since 1982; Rosalind Giles, 27, missing since 1991; Lisa Knox, 29, missing since 1993; and Anita Parker, missing since 1998.
Kilcoyne said the four women were known to be involved in drugs and prostitution, and they frequented the area near Franklin’s home where the other victims were located, but they have not been definitively linked to the suspect. Police are seeking any information that could connect them to him.
Investigators believe Franklin may also have killed Inez Warren, who was shot with a small caliber handgun in 1988 and left in an alleyway. She later died at a hospital.
Kilcoyne said the way in which Warren was killed closely resembles other murders attributed to Franklin, and she was known to be involved in drugs and prostitution like the other victims. Police are seeking any information that could tie Warren to Franklin.
“I know it’s a longshot but it has all the characteristics of the other cases,” Kilcoyne said.
Detectives Tuesday also asked for the public’s help in identifying 55 women who remain unidentified after police released 180 photos found in Franklin’s house to try to eliminate them from a victim list. Some of the photos released in December appear to be of women sleeping.
The killer was dubbed the Grim Sleeper because the killings appeared to stop in 1988 and did not resurface until 2002. But Kilcoyne said he believes there are many other victims.
“We’re going to start filling in that gap,” he said. “I don’t think he stopped for a minute.”
Kilcoyne noted that Franklin’s wife and son have not cooperated with police.
The detective said he did not anticipate charges to result from any of these new cases, saying that police are satisfied with the 11 counts that Franklin faces. The absence of bodies also makes homicide prosecutions tough, Police Chief Charlie Beck added.
But Kilcoyne said victims’ families are owed answers and noted that Franklin’s indictment enabled detectives to release this latest information.
“We’re still scratching away on the case,” he said.