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Group Irate Over Serial Murders

Our Weekly, News Report, Shirley Hawkins Posted: Jun 11, 2009

The pain will not go away.

Members of the Black Coalition Fighting Black Serial Murders (BCFBSM) fought back tears Thursday, May 28 in front of Parker Center as they recalled the loved ones who met untimely deaths at the hands of a South Los Angeles serial killer, labeled the Grim Sleeper.

The killer, who murdered 11 victims, has escaped police capture for 24 years. His last known victim was murdered on January 1, 2007.

The cold case caused Councilmember Bernard Parks recently to renew a reward of $500,000 for information leading to the capture of the Grim Sleeper.

Waving signs and placards that read Gone But Not Forgotten and Black Womens Lives Count, Too, the group demanded that police and city officials inform them about progress in the murders.

Members of BCFBSM claim that families of several of the victims were never notified by law enforcement that their loved ones were killed by a serial killer. Many family members said they had to learn about the murder of their loved ones from the newspaper or television.

The group was also irate that the police have only recently released a 911 tape made in 1987 from a witness who saw the driver of a van dumping a body, which was identified as 23-year-old Barbara Ware.

Despite the formation of a police task force in April of 2007, family members and friends of victims claim that police have not kept them updated. We didnt even know that there was a Grim Sleeper serial killer task force until last year, said Diana Ware, the stepmother of Barbara Ware, the Grim Sleepers fourth victim.

The detectives told us the day after her death that Barbara had been found in the alley. Barbara was shot by the killer in the heart, reported Ware. After being shot and killed, Barbaras body was dumped from a van that belonged to the Cosmopolitan Church.

Its really sad because Barbara was just getting her life back on track, said Ware, adding that Barbara had just completed a drug rehabilitation program and left behind a four-year-old daughter. She was murdered two days after her birthday.

When the 911 tape was released and my daughters picture was shown, her daughter, Naomi, whos now 28, saw it on CNN News. Before that broadcast, Naomi didnt know too much about her mothers death, said Ware. She just knew that her mother had been murdered. When she saw the broadcast, she was shocked and upset.

Margaret Prescod, founder of BCFBSM, said, We all know that if these murders happened in an affluent community like Beverly Hills and the victims were not Black, this manhunt would be on local and national news. People around the world would know about it. It is an example of the kind of racist hierarchy in the value of human life that places black women and women of color at the bottom of the hierarchy, she said.

Ware said that although her stepdaughters body was found near Cosmopolitan Church, which is no longer in existence, some members of the church were not investigated at the time of the young womans death. I think the church is the key to the whole case, said Ware. I think they should contact a person who had a list of all the church members because I believe someone in the church is involved.

The van that the witness in the 911 tape identified is now in Belize, said Ware, who added that the hood of the van was still warm when police found her step-daughters body.

Demands from the group include an urgent and stepped up public information campaign about the murders; that the LAPD provide complete information about all murders, bimonthly reports to the community on the status of the investigation, an accurate account of how many women are believed to have been killed by the killer or killers, a congressional hearing and an investigation by the Department of Justice into the handling and mishandling of the cases by law enforcement and compensation for the victims and their families.

Victims of the Grim Sleeper murdered between 1985 and 2007 include Debra Jackson, Henrietta Wright, Thomas Steele, Barbara Ware, Bernita Sparks, Mary Lowe, Lachrica Jefferson, Alicia Monique Alexander, Princess Berthomieux, Valerie McCorvey and Janecia Peters. In addition to the 11 murder victims, there is only one survivor of the Grim Sleepers attacks.

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