LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles detectives said Tuesday they believe the suspect in the "Grim Sleeper" serial killings could be responsible for up to eight additional murders, but say the likelihood is strongest for three women whose photos were found in a secret stash in a refrigerator.
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 suspect Lonnie Franklin Jr. lived.
"Obviously, we hope for the best, but the circumstances are gloomy," said Detective Dennis Kilcoyne, who heads a taskforce dedicated to the serial murders. "These women have not been seen in a long, long time."
An eighth victim is believed to be an unsolved murder dating from 1988.
Franklin, a mechanic, was arrested last July and indicted earlier this month on 10 counts of murder and one attempted murder in connection with a string of shooting and strangling slayings that started in the 1980s and extended into the 2000s. All of the victims had troubled lives, many involving drugs and prostitution.
Franklin has pleaded not guilty and is in jail awaiting trial.
Police are focusing on the three women because their IDs and photos were found in a fridge in Franklin's garage in a stash that also contained a picture of a woman Franklin is charged with killing -- Janecia Peters.
Kilcoyne said this small stash was apart 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 met a similar fate.
"We feel there's some significance to that," the detective said.
The small collection contained the Nevada ID and sexually explicit photos of Rolenia Morris, 29, who disappeared in September 2005, the high school ID of Ayellah Marshall, 18, who went missing in February 2005, the photo of an unidentified woman, and another photo of a woman that was too dark to make out, as well as the picture of Peters, he said.
Frank Marshall, Ayellah's father, said he hoped some information will result about what happened to his daughter. "We'd like some kind of closure," he said. "It's painful, waiting daily, expecting to hear the worst.Another four missing women detectives believe could be Franklin's victims were brought to police attention by family members after his arrest last July. They have been identified as: Cathern or Catherine Davis, 29, 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 to frequent the area near Franklin's home where the other victims were located, but have not been definitively linked to Franklin. Police are seeking any information that could connect them to him.
Investigators believe Franklin was responsible for killing an eighth possible victim, Inez Warren, who was shot in the chest with a small caliber handgun and left in an alleyway off Western Avenue in 1988. She later died at a local hospital.
Kilcoyne said the way in which she 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 also asked for the public's help in identifying photos of 55 women found in Franklin's house, the last of 180 photos police released to the public in December in order to eliminate them from a victim list. Just that morning, he said, another woman in a picture came forward.
Some of the photos appear to be of women sleeping -- Kilcoyne said none of those have been identified.
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 has been indicted on. 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.
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