Grim Sleeper killings: Bernita Sparks in 1987
Died April 15, 1987
Bernita Sparks, a black woman, was found dead April 15, 1987, in the 9400 block of South Western Avenue in Gramercy Park, authorities said.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, she had been shot with a small-caliber gun. Sparks' body was discovered in a trash bin.
Los Angeles police believe she is the fifth of 11 victims of a serial killer known as "the Grim Sleeper."
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 Sparks' killing, as well as others dating between 1985 to 2007.
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.
— Times staff reports
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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Updated: July 9, 2010 at 10:06 p.m.