Tales of the Grim Sleeper: New Docu from Nick Broomfield

Nick Broomfield’s docu Tales of the Grim Sleeper centers on Lonnie Franklin Jr. who was arrested in July 2010 after a 25 year killing spree, in which it is thought he could have killed over a 100 victims, potentially making him the most prolific serial killer in history.

Significantly, his arrest was not the product of painstaking detective work but completely accidental, the result of a computer DNA match that linked him to a possible 20 victims. Franklin now awaits trial. Tales of the Grim Sleeper looks into how it was possible for all this to happen.

The murders all took place in the South Central area of Los Angeles, the poor part of the city with the worst schools, the worst hospitals, and no jobs. The Lonnie Franklin case has become very political in Los Angeles amidst accusations that the reason the killings were able to go on for so long was because the victims were all black African-American women. The murders were all reported as being the killings of prostitutes, even though it now appears many were not.

What is revealed is a police force that didn’t care and a community estranged and abandoned from the rest of the city. A police force that for years used the slang term NHI (No Human Involved) for murders of prostitutes, drug addicts and gang members.

In this film we meet all those people the police never talked to. Like a detective story, we are introduced to Lonnie’s world. We meet his friends, Richard, Gary, and Steve, who slowly reveal the extent of their knowledge; Jerry, Lonnie’s night time companion when he picked up women, and Chris, Lonnie’s son, who paint a complicated portrait of a contradictory man; The survivors who narrowly escaped death at Lonnie’s hands but would never dream of sharing their experiences with the police.

We meet the amazing women of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, who for over 30 years have fought tirelessly to see justice for the Victims families. Through characters like Pam, who used to work the streets, we are taken on a tour of Lonnie’s haunts – the Mustang Motel, The Snooty Fox, the woman who’s throat he tried to cut, and the people of South Central LA. We find wit, humor, and humanity in the most unexpected places, and a people who have been dealt a grave injustice that extends far beyond this case.