Police Raked for Handling of Prostitute Murder Cases

Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, February 22, 1989

By BETTINA BOXALL, Times Staff Writer

Several community activists Tuesday complained to the Police Commission that the Los Angeles Police Department is mishandling and covering up an investigation o[ what appear to be serial killings of prostitutes In the South-Central area.

Condemning police silence on the slayings of at least nine women in the last three years, spokesmen for the NAACP and a group that was formed after an earlier wave of killings demanded that authorities release information about the kill­ings and call in federal authorities to investigate whether the slayings are in any way linked to the murders of women in other cities.

The department a refusal to publicise the slayings has further en­dangered the lives of poor black women living on the Southside, Margaret Prescod of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders told police commissioners at the start of their Tuesday meeting.

“We are outraged that you have made so deadly a calculation when so many lives were at risk, a deadly kind of calculation that would not have been made were it any other’ community at risk. Imagine 12 or 13 or 29 women killed in West­wood…. Would it have been such a well-guarded secret?” de­manded Prescod, who was accompanied by a member of the Altade­na chapter of the National Assn, for the Advancement of Colored Peo­ple.

Prescod also read portions of a statement from the U.S. Prostitutes Collective, in which the group complained that police harassment of prostitutes sends a signal that “it’s OK to hunt down hookers or alleged hookers.”

The criticism failed to pry any information out of police, and Po­lice Chief Daryl F. Gates instated that homicide investigators did not look at a victim’s color, occupation or life style in deciding how to handle a case. “We look to nothing except that the person is dead,” Gates said.

“We have to be very careful with what we say,” so as not to jeopard­ize the investigation, Gates added. “Whether there will be a statement forthcoming, I can’t say.”

Police Commission President Robert Talcott said his panel will look into the complaints but he would not comment on them.

Although news of the killings was leaked last week, police have refused to say anything except that they are investigating the slayings of women who sell sex for drugs. The timing of the killings appears to overlap by one year with those in the Southside Slayer case, in which 17 women were found stran­gled in the South-Central area between 1983 and 1986. One man has been convicted in one o[ those deaths, and two other suspects were charged separately in seven of the slayings.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s