Support for LAist comes from
Made of L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


How the Search for One L.A. Serial Killer Led to Another

Photo by VeryBadLady via Flickr
Our June member drive is live: protect this resource!
Right now, we need your help during our short June member drive to keep the local news you read here every day going. This has been a challenging year, but with your help, we can get one step closer to closing our budget gap. Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership.

When the LA Weekly broke the news about the still-out-there "Grim Sleeper" serial killer, who would rape and murder victims in South LA, one detective had an idea. What if the matching DNA from the crime scenes was of a registered sex offender who had not yet been swabbed? Of the 1,500 local sex offenders that matched the Grim Sleeper's description, 92 of them did not have DNA on file. So police began collecting DNA samples and one of those samples matched a number of crimes, but not the Grim Sleepers, another one, possibly the Westside Rapist:

When [Detective Diane] Webb ordered her massive manhunt last fall for the 92 unswabbed men who might include the Grim Sleeper, she couldn’t have known that hers was the final act in a series of decisions by detectives stretching over three decades, in what amounts to one of the longest-running manhunts in L.A. history. Without these independent acts, from Detective Larry Manchester’s quirky 1970s decision to save trace evidence after reading about newfangled “DNA science” to a random decision by cold-case detective Richard Bengtson in 2002 to reopen Manchester’s unsolved Elizabeth McKeown murder case, suspected Westside Rapist John Floyd Thomas would not be safely locked away.

Most Read