The Grim Sleeper (2014 Lifetime)
Synopsis (via Lifetime)
Journalist Christine Pelisek helps law enforcement investigate the alleged serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper.
The movie starts with attempted murder in a car in the 1980s. A woman is shot and thrown from a vehicle. She walks all the way home and crawls on her doorstep to die.
Flash to twenty years later, Christine Peliskey is a perky reporter/fact-checker who gets intel from a source at the corners office. They are compiling a list of bodies from south LA from unsolved murder cases. She is tirelessly looking into things.
Zarina is a teen girl who is rebellious and rude to her sister, who is worried about her well being. Melayna finds her sister walking the streets in her confirmation dress. When Zarina tells her sister off, Melayna leaves her to find her way home. Zarina is murdered by someone who picks her up, and he throws her naked body in the trash. Melayna cannot believe her sister is being reported as a prostitute because she is a sophomore in high school, and they come from a well off family. Zarina was adopted and had a terrible childhood.
Christine interviews Melayna and starts to draw parallels with the other cases dating back to 1986. She is horrified to learn that a serial killer may have been in LA for years. She tracks down the one survivor, Margette. (Played by the shamefully underrated, Macy Gray.) Margette wants nothing to do with the investigation. Eventually, she shares her story with Christine. In the 80’s she was offered a ride from a handsome, well-off black man. He shot her, but she managed to get away and live her life. The killer took a photo of her with a polaroid camera before leaving her for dead.
Detectives do not want Christine to run the story. She wants to warn women about a black serial killer in LA who has been killing for 25 years. Christine writes the story anyway. Christine finds the families of the victims and tells them about the serial killer. Families are outraged detectives did not inform them about the serial killer, and the media had to come to them. Melayna confronts Detectives Simms and schools him on his racist policing methods. They are devaluing the lives of the black women who were murdered by a serial killer. #BlackLivesMatter
The story is run on the LA Weekly front page and is very critical of the LAPD. The coin the name “The Grim Sleeper.” The same day Ebony King is murdered by the serial killer.
Detective Gerry Clymar (Ernie Hudson) is added to the case. He creates a task force to find the serial killer. They open a tipline and promise to take the case seriously. Detective Simms uses Detective Clymar as a shield for the press/families who demand to know why the police kept the serial killer a secret for 25 years. Detective Clymar tells Simms that he needs to talk to the families of the victims himself and not to use him as a scapegoat just because he is black. The families tear into Detective Simms for two hours, and he realizes that he has work to do. They raise a billboard with images of the victims and offer a $500,000 reward. The families flyer the area where the murders happen.
A threatening note is sent to Christine., but no prints could be pulled. She takes Margette driving through the neighborhood, and she identifies the house she saw the killer go into. They call the detectives and find out the police had staked out the house years before. Margette, though she had solved the case and is devastated. She stops corresponding with Christine.
The story fades from popularity, but the families protest for justice. It works and the task forced is continued.
Detectives run family DNA through the data base and get a hit on Lonnie David Franklin Jr from one of his family members. He is a family man and a respected member of his community. Police rush to his house and arrest him. Christine is there too and takes a picture if him with her cellphone. He is questioned and refuses to give any information, maintaining that he is not guilty. On May 5, 2016, the jury convicted him of killing nine women and one teenage girl. Lonnie David Franklin Jr died in March of 2020 in his prison cell.
Minority Report: Margette, Darnley, Zarina, Melayna, Police officers, Ebony, Livi, Monica, Anthony, Mr. King, Family members
🔪🔪🔪🔪 (4 Knives)
🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required.)
*Photo Credit: © 2014 Lifetime