We settled in for “The Grim Sleeper” on Lifetime with a full intent of writing a snarky post about the best lines and most absurd moments. Turns out this is not one of those Lifetime movies, like “She Woke Up Pregnant” or “My Stepson, My Lover.”
“The Grim Sleeper” is about a real serial killer who terrorized South-Central Los Angeles from 1985 until 2010, making him the longest active serial killer west of the Mississippi River.
The Sleeper’s original reign of terror spanned 1985-88, when the LAPD dubbed him the .25-caliber Killer. He then took a 14-year break and resumed killing in 2002. Once the killings started again, LA Weekly fact-checker Christine Pelisek set out to investigate the new murders and discovered their links to the crimes from roughly 15 years prior.
Dreama Walker played Pelisek in the Lifetime movie, which dramatized Pelisek’s dogged investigation into the crimes, which is what got the killings some media attention and therefore support and focus from the Los Angeles mayor and police chief (since the PR was starting to make them look bad).
The movie is actually pretty interesting, buoyed by good performances from the actors playing the victims’ families, Walker and Michael O’Neill (“The West Wing,” “Grey’s Anatomy”). The opening scene hooks you, as it dramatizes the Sleeper’s lone survivor crawling home after her attack, and keeps up the dramatic tension until the end when the Sleeper is taken down at his Los Angeles-area home.
The end of the movie gives an update on the Sleeper: Lonnie Franklin Jr. was arrested on July 7th, 2010. He has been charged with 10 counts of murder and 1 count of attempted murder. He has pled not guilty to all charges, and he is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty. His case has had extensive pre-trial hearings in the Los Angeles Superior Court. He is currently being held without bail in the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles while he awaits trial.
Did you tune in for “The Grim Sleeper”? If not, it will be rebroadcast on Lifetime Sunday, March 16 at both midnight and 7 p.m. ET.