Video: How did ‘Grim Sleeper’ suspect elude police?
Transcript of: How did ‘Grim Sleeper’ suspect elude police?
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Los Angeles police tonight are providing new information about what is being called the case of the "Grim Sleeper." That's what they've nicknamed a notorious serial killer suspect who was able to elude police for more than two decades. Now they think they've finally got him. And as NBC 's George Lewis explains, a piece of pizza ended their manhunt.
GEORGE LEWIS reporting: People who know him say it's hard to believe that Lonnie Franklin is the guy police suspect of being the Grim Sleeper serial killer .
Unidentified Woman: Talkative, he's sweet, he was funny.
LEWIS: He was the man who made a living fixing cars for people in the neighborhood.
Mr. DONNELL ALEXANDER (Victim's Brother): My sister was killed in 1988 by this alleged -- the guy here. And just one day she said she was going to the store, walked away, and we hadn't seen her since.
LEWIS: Now Franklin has been charged with murdering 10 women, and police are trying to connect him to as many as 30 other killings. So how did he elude police for so long, and how did he get caught?
Mr. STEVE COOLEY (Los Angeles District Attorney): This case was solved because of what was done over the last several years in this unique arena of forensic science, and specifically DNA .
LEWIS: At first police couldn't match DNA at the murder scenes to any suspects. Franklin had been arrested 15 times in 40 years, but his crimes were never considered serious enough to send him to state prison, where he would have had to give DNA samples.
Detective DENNIS KILCOYNE (Los Angeles Police Department): We tried different avenues. We're trying to think outside the box because he's outsmarted us for 24 years.
LEWIS: And one of those other avenues turned out to be a brand-new technology called familial DNA . While there was no DNA sample for Franklin in any police database, when his son was recently arrested powerful computers said the son's DNA was related to the DNA at the Grim Sleeper crime scenes. Police began tailing Franklin and obtained his DNA from a partially eaten pizza.
Chief CHARLIE BECK (Los Angeles Police Department): This is a landmark case . This will change the way policing is done in the United States .
LEWIS: Franklin has not yet entered a plea. He'll be arraigned August 9th . George Lewis , NBC News, Los Angeles .