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Grim Sleeper survivor: 'You're at his will'

By the CNN Wire Staff
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'Grim Sleeper' survivor recalls attack
  • Enietra Washington is the only known survivor of the "Grim Sleeper" killer
  • At least 10 women fell victim to the predator between 1985 and 2007
  • A 58-year-old man is charged with the killings and could face the death penalty

(CNN) -- Enietra Washington doesn't remember the flash or the bang when she was shot.

All she recalls is a stunned silence in the orange Ford Pinto, driven by the man who'd offered her a ride to a party.

The bullet that doctors pulled from her body in 1988 became a key piece of evidence against the man now suspected of being the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer, blamed for the deaths of at least 10 women in the Los Angeles area between 1985 and 2007. The .25-caliber slug matched a weapon police now link to eight of those killings, which detectives say were committed by 58-year-old Lonnie David Franklin Jr.

Washington is the only known survivor of an encounter with the Grim Sleeper, whose nickname comes from a 13-year gap between slayings police blamed on him. But now, investigators are looking into whether Franklin can be connected to any more of another 230 Los Angeles-area slayings, including some they previously considered solved.

Washington told HLN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" that her attacker turned on her so quickly she hardly knew what happened.

2010: Arrest made in 'Grim Sleeper' case

"He does it unexpectedly," she said. "It's not like the woman is forewarned and can even protect herself. If she's not paying attention just as I was, you turn around to say something to him and he point-blank shoots you first.

"If you're not in the grace of God and you know how to keep yourself from panicking, you're at his will," she said.

Washington, then 29, said she was drawn to the orange Pinto with the striped top. When its driver offered her a ride, she turned him down, only to have him retort, "That's what's wrong with you black women. Men can't be men to you," she recounted.

She agreed to accept a ride to a gathering at a friend's house, thinking she could pawn him off on someone there. After he stopped at what he said was his uncle's house to get cash, she said he muttered something she didn't quite hear -- "then all of a sudden, everything just went real quiet."

Only when her attacker told her, "Bitch, I'll shoot you again," did she realize she had been shot a first time, she told HLN.

Most of the sleeper's victims were discovered dumped in south Los Angeles alleys and covered with debris, authorities said. All victims were shot; some were strangled too, an indictment alleges.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty against Franklin, who was arrested in July 2010. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for November 7, according to the district attorney's office.