Was the LAPD right to post images of about 160 women on the Web after photos of them were found in suspected serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr.'s home? Franklin's attorney says that images of Franklin's relatives are included and the move could taint the jury pool, but police say they just want to find out what happened to the women depicted in the photo stash.
Most of the women are African American, as is Franklin. Many of the photos in the stash were sexually explicit, but closely cropped images of the women, most revealing only their faces, are on the LAPD's website. And while there certainly will be people who view them only out of curiosity, police say that since releasing them, they have already tentatively identified five of the women depicted, several who identified themselves.
Concerns about invading the women's privacy must be weighed against the need to know if there are more murder victims out there. Disappearances of black women already receive too little attention, and even in this case, the search for victims might be too little, too late.
Detectives sought the public's help Thursday when they released images of about 160 women and asked anyone who recognized them to come forward.
"We certainly do not believe that we are so lucky, or so good, as to know all of his victims," Police Chief Charlie Beck said. "We need the public's help."
Lonnie Franklin Jr. has pleaded not guilty to the murders of 10 women from 1985 to 1988 and from 2002 to 2007. The apparent 14-year pause in the alleged crimes led to the nickname "Grim Sleeper," though detectives suspect Franklin could be involved in other deaths.
The photos and videos were found at Franklin's home and garage during a three-day search after his July arrest.
"Now that we know who he is and what type of activity he is involved in with women, we are very concerned for everyone in these photographs," Detective Dennis Kilcoyne said.
More details about this development in the case are in the video below, and more information about the Grim Sleeper case is on The Root.
Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.