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film

Nick Broomfield’s Tales of the Grim Sleeper

Nick Broomfield, Tales of the Grim Sleeper, 2014, digital video, color, sound, 110 minutes. Nick Broomfield and Pam Brooks.

HOW MANY WOMEN have been murdered by serial killers in South Los Angeles since the mid-1980s? No one knows. Police favor one number (the official tally is fifty-five, mapping to bodies found), while kin to the hundreds who have gone missing fear that the true figure is far higher.

Some things about the crimes are known—like the home address of the most infamous of the accused: 1728 West Eighty-First Street. Most other aspects elude us. Lonnie David Franklin Jr., who owns the house at 1728, currently awaits trial for ten homicides, but there is reason to fear he may have killed more than one hundred women. The additional dozens Franklin may have victimized await identification by other means, justice in other courts.

British documentarian Nick Broomfield’s profoundly unsettling new film, Tales of the Grim Sleeper, doesn’t unpack the story of Franklin and his victims so much as

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