A serial killer ominously dubbed the Grim Sleeper had been terrorising young black women in southern Los Angeles from the mid-1980s until 2010.
However, it wasn’t until DNA testing technology became widely used in the late-2000s that the LAPD was able to connect the murders to one person.
The police were eventually able to snare their suspect using DNA evidence from a partially-eaten slice of pizza.
According to Vice the Grim Sleeper has the dubious achievement of being the longest active serial killer in the State of California.
Police finally caught the killer in 2010, after California adopted a searchable DNA database.
In 2009, Lonnie Franklin Jr was arrested for another crime, and his DNA was sent to the state database. It came up showing a match to DNA that had previously been collected from the Grim Sleeper crime scenes, implicating Franklin in the crimes.
This is where the pizza becomes very important to the story.
As he was now a suspect, two LAPD detectives were keeping tabs on Franklin. According to court documents they saw him head into a restaurant for a kid’s birthday party.
According to Uproxx, one of the detectives – disguised as a restaurant employee – collected napkins, glasses, a fork, and a partially-eaten slice of pizza from Franklin. DNA evidence from these items clinched the cops’ case, and two days later they arrested Franklin.
Pre-trial delays stalled the case, but it will finally go to trial on February 16th this year.
There are a few theories why he wasn’t apprehended sooner, with many suspecting that the LAPD didn’t follow up leads as thoroughly as they should have because the victims – disenfranchised black women – were insignificant to them.
The LAPD says it was difficult to separate the serial killer from other violent crimes in south LA during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic.
So it looks like the pizza was a slice of luck for the LAPD…