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Grim Sleeper may have more victims

Los Angeles detectives believe the suspect in the Grim Sleeper serial killings could be responsible for up to eight additional murders, but say the likelihood is strongest for three women whose photos were found in a secret stash in a refrigerator.

Police asked for the public's help in locating the three women and displayed their photos at a news conference, along with four others whose families reported them missing in the neighbourhood where suspect Lonnie Franklin Jr lived.

"Obviously, we hope for the best, but the circumstances are gloomy," said Detective Dennis Kilcoyne, who heads a taskforce dedicated to the serial murders. "These women have not been seen in a long, long time."

An eighth victim is believed to be an unsolved murder dating from 1988.

Franklin, a mechanic, was arrested last July and indicted on 10 counts of murder and one attempted murder in connection with a string of shooting and strangling killings that started in the 1980s and extended into the 2000s. All of the victims had troubled lives, many involving drugs and prostitution. Franklin has pleaded not guilty and is in jail awaiting trial.

Police are focusing on the three women because their IDs and photos were found in a fridge in Franklin's garage in a stash that also contained a picture of a woman Franklin is charged with killing.

Det Kilcoyne said this small stash was apart from pictures of hundreds of others of women, many sexually explicit, found throughout Franklin's house.

Detectives also asked for the public's help in identifying photos of 55 women found in Franklin's house, the last of 180 photos police released to the public in December in order to eliminate them from a victim list. Just that morning, he said, another woman in a picture came forward.

The killer was dubbed the Grim Sleeper because the killings appeared to stop in 1988 and did not resurface until 2002. But Kilcoyne said he believes there are many other victims.

"We're going to start filling in that gap," he said. "I don't think he stopped for a minute."

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