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Written By Aliya S. King
In August of 2016, Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was convicted of killing one man, nine women and one teenage girl. He was sentenced to the death penalty for each victim. All of his victims were shot in the chest with a .25 caliber gun.
One woman, Enietra Washington, is publicly known as Franklin's only survivor. After he shot her in the chest, she miraculously managed to escape and walk several blocks to safety. Her description of Franklin and his vehicle—and the ballistic evidence from the bullet lodged in her chest for weeks—helped to put Franklin away.
For 30 years, the narrative of The Grim Sleeper has remained the same. Ten women. Possibly scores of others. And one who escaped his clutches and was able to speak out on behalf of the women killed. Often dumping his victims in plain sight, it took decades to bring them justice.
Late last year, Monica Hunter, who lives in South Central Los Angeles, decided she was ready to tell her story. Thirty-one years after the incident that would loom large over her life, Hunter, emboldened by Franklin’s arrest, wants to heal.
Here’s Hunter’s story as she shared it exclusively with BET:
Every time I pass by the welfare office over by 108th street, I see those trash bins. My mother lives over there now. When I go over there I always look. I’m like, that could have been me in that trash bin. I look at the spot where they would have found me dead at—where he put that white sheet. Where he told me to lay down and take my clothes off. I still look at that spot every single day.
I’m originally from Louisiana. Then we moved to California when I was seven. My parents are good people. They always made sure we all had everything we needed. I ran track and played basketball. Had a good life.
I ended up messing up my life on my own. It wasn’t their fault.
My mother and father never did drugs. They might smoke a cigarette or have a drink on the weekends but that was it. They worked—hard. My mother was a nurse. She worked with handicapped kids. My father, he detailed cars. They’re just good people. When I got with my kids’ daddy, all his people were drinking and doing drugs. I had to get in where I fit in and I started using too.
My parents were supportive even when I started having babies, but they would get frustrated because I was struggling. Different people would come around and then go tell my mom she need to do something. So my mom would come get my kids. I would spend my money from the county and then my mom would have to buy food. Sometimes she would say, "Monica, come on and take care of these kids."
My daddy would be so upset with me asking him for money to go get a beer or something. He would always say, “I’m not going to give you my money to make the dope man rich! I’m buying him a brand-new car and I ain’t got no car!”
I started getting my kids taken away and my mother and father got real upset. But they took care of my kids. My kids always been with family. I had 17 kids: 13 living, four miscarriages. One of my daughters, she died when she was 8 years old in foster care. My sister got some of my kids in Vegas. I see them all and we communicate every day mostly.
I really don't like talking to too many people about my situation. Because my parents don't really believe in a lot of things that I be saying. I guess because sometimes I'm drunk, you know, I'm tripping or whatever. But I know exactly what happened to me.
Years ago at my mother and father’s house, I seen something on America’s Most Wanted. I seen him. They said this man shot a girl or something and she got away. In my mind as soon as I saw the picture I said, "That’s him. That’s the man from long time ago." I didn’t say anything to my mother right then. But when I went home, I told the man I’m with now: "That man right there? That’s the man. He picked me up a long time ago. And I thought he was gonna kill me."
Back in 1986, I stayed in Nickerson Gardens, on 114th and Central. One night, I was going to my mother-in-law’s house on 64th and Central to a Tupperware party, so I left my house about nine.
I remember it was check day, so I had a little money in my pocket. And I remember I had just had the twins. I told my old man to watch the kids so I could go to the Tupperware party.
So I’m at the bus stop right there on Central. The bus was taking too long and I got frustrated. I see a dude coming down the street in a yellow Pinto. It’s a Black brother so I’m like, okay. He asked me if I wanted a ride and I said, "Yeah, I’m going to 64th and Central."
Now, I’m dressed regular. I really wasn't dressed like a hoochie or nothing. They say he was picking up prostitutes and stuff, but that wasn’t me. I was just dressed regular, with my boots on and my jeans and my sweatshirt and my jacket. I always dressed like a boy.
But I had my bottle of something with me and I was a little out there. I done jumped in the car to get a ride with a lot of guys, but they never really hurt me or did me wrong. But this time, I was high. And he spotted me. That’s the mistake I made. Sitting at the bus stop, high and listening to my little radio and singing and stuff.
I could tell he just got off work so he seemed regular. So I went to get in and he had to lean over to open it. But then, when I got in, the door wouldn’t open back up. He would have to open it some kind of way. But he still seemed cool. I looked at him close. He had a little Afro, dark skin, had his work tag on his uniform and I’m thinking, okay, it’s not far anyway. I just want to get to this party.
But then we pull off and he driving slow. I ask why he was driving so slow. He was driving real slow.
He gets to 108th street and boom, he stops real quick on the corner. I said, "I’m not going here," and he said, "Yes you are."
He backed his car up behind these trash bins near the Housing Authority and then he told me to get out. I was trying to open the door but I couldn’t get out. He was in the trunk doing something, and he was yelling for me to get out and take my clothes off. I said, "Take off my clothes for what?" I’m thinking he thought I got in the car with him to make some money, and I said, "Sir I don’t need no money."
I finally got out the car and there was a white sheet right there on the ground. And I’m thinking, I done messed up now. I guess he gon rape me. I hope he just do it and get it over with. I remember he had a screwdriver, and his hands was shaking real hard. He kept yelling at me to take my clothes off. I started taking my clothes off and someone nearby was walking down the street, singing loud and acting silly. I yelled out and he looked over and started asking what was going on? The man got mad cause I yelled out for help and I took off running. I had one leg in my pants and I just ran. I looked back and I see him get in the car and start after me. I ran like crazy. When I saw he wasn’t behind me I ran straight home.
I shut my door, I locked my door, I turned off all the lights. My old man was asleep with the kids. I couldn’t tell him what happened, because I knew if I did he would beat the crap out of me because I wasn’t supposed to be jumping in the car with anybody anyway. He would have beat the mess out of me, so I didn’t say anything. I stayed in the house for two days. Then I got scared that maybe he saw where I went.
I went to the Housing Authority and I told them about the man who chased me. They said, "What does he look like?" I told them about the Afro and the Pinto and how he was driving really slow. And then they said, "That’s the man who been killing prostitutes around here." I didn’t know anything about it. I had never heard anybody talk about that happening.
I didn’t report it. I thought I only had 24 hours to report something like that. And I just didn’t want to talk about it anyway.
I’ve been through a lot of stuff before but not like this. I jumped in a car with an undercover cop back in ‘84, and he offered me something, a drink, and I accepted, so they called that prostituting even though I wasn’t a prostitute. I’ve been back and forth to jail, just open containers and stuff like that. So I just didn’t report this.
I had to move out of there. I was afraid he would see me at the bus stop again or that he knew where I stayed at. I couldn’t stay there. I told my old man we had to go and he kept asking why. I didn’t tell him. But we moved.
I saw it on the news again. I saw his picture on America’s Most Wanted. They were calling him The Grim Sleeper. Then I told a few people what happened to me. I wanted to tell my mother and father. Then I saw the trial on the news, and I thought about going but I said I’m going to leave it in God’s hands. They said, "Anyone want to testify?" But I just said it’s too late for me to tell my story; this happened way back in 1986. God will take care of it.
Then I saw on television they had all these pictures in the courtroom. They had pictures of girls that maybe he killed or maybe just missing. It was a lot of pictures. And it made me think of Adrienne.
I had twins in 1986. The girl twin name is Adrienne. When Adrienne turned 18 she left home, and I ain’t seen her since. Her brother told me she been walking up and down South Central. She’s just gone. I stay in the same area and no one seen her. I thought maybe I would go down to the court to look at them pictures. Cause maybe I could find out if she was around him and…
I didn’t go. But I’m still asking about Adrienne.
That man killed a lot of women. Young women. Black women. I don't understand it. He was trying to get this one, too, but he didn't get me.
I think about what happened all the time. I even tell the man I’m with now about it and he says, "But Monica, you ain’t gotta worry about him no more."