Police in Los Angeles have offered a $500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a serial killer dubbed the 'Grim Sleeper', who is thought to be behind at least eleven grisly murders.
In a string of attacks spanning two decades, ten women and a man have been shot, with the same weapon, and dumped in close proximity to each other in and around the South Central area of the city.
All the victims are black, and at least some of the women were prostitutes. A majority had been sexually assaulted after their deaths, and most of their bodies were dumped in the same alleyway.
The killer first struck in 1985, but his existence has only recently become public knowledge. He was responsible for eight deaths in the following three years, before disappearing off the radar.
In 2002, after a break of more than 13 years, he returned to the scene of former crimes, killing 14-year-old Princess Berthomieux. Her body was found beaten and strangled in an alley in the city of Inglewood. Another murder, in which the DNA profile of the murderer matched that of earlier victims, followed in 2003.
The most recent homicide occurred in January 2007, when the body of 25-year-old Janecia Peters was found shot and covered in a garbage bag, in the same area.
Despite the extended time-span of the killings, details of the more recent murders have only just emerged. They were revealed last week by the newspaper LA Weekly, which disclosed that the LA Police Department’s cold case unit was now working on the case.
Amid mounting public hysteria, the LAPD announced the reward on Wednesday. “This individual committed several homicides from 1985 through 1988, and then there was a 13-year hiatus,” said a spokesman. “What accounted for that gap we still don't know.”
Though police have a DNA sample of the killer, only one physical description exists, taken from a victim who survived a 1988 attack. She said the assailant was a black man in his 30s driving an orange Ford Pinto.
“But that’s one person’s account who was traumatized,” added the LAPD spokesman.