Newsletter: Essential California: Grim Sleeper now one of California’s most prolific serial killers

Lonnie Franklin Jr. is led out from the L.A. County Superior Courtroom after a dramatic hearing Friday.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. It is Friday, May 6. Here’s what is happening in the Golden State:


OxyContin investigation


A Los Angeles Times investigation finds the hugely popular painkiller OxyContin wears off hours early in many patients despite drugmaker Purdue Pharma’s claim that one dose lasts for 12 hours. Times reporters reviewed internal Purdue documents that came from court cases and government investigations, which shed light on how OxyContin became one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in U.S. history. “You want a description of hell. I can give it to you,” said one patient, who spent a year and a half on the drug and contemplated suicide before checking herself into rehab. Los Angeles Times

Guilty verdict

A Los Angeles jury found Lonnie Franklin Jr., a.k.a. the “Grim Sleeper,” guilty Thursday of killing nine women and one girl between 1985 and 2007. He was also found guilty of one count of attempted murder. The verdicts make Franklin one of California’s most prolific serial killers. His victims were young, African American women; some were caught up in drugs and prostitution. Their killings failed to elicit much attention, and it wasn’t until decades later that Los Angeles police acknowledged a serial killer may have been preying on women in South L.A. Los Angeles Times


Without water: East Porterville became an international symbol of California’s drought after its wells failed and people were forced to truck in water. But even with nine government and nonprofit agencies descending on the community to help, progress has been painstakingly slow. “These families need so much more help than a tank,” said Roman Hernandez, a pastor who has watched people line up in the church parking lot for bottled water and mobile showers. Los Angeles Times



Not over yet: The gas leak at Aliso Canyon was capped in February, but that doesn’t mean the situation is over for thousands of families in Porter Ranch who don’t want to return until they’re assured it’s safe. “I’ve missed out on Thanksgiving because I was sick. We barely got a tree up in the hotel room for Christmas just so our kids had some sense of normalcy,” said one mother, who is living in a Marriott Hotel with her husband and five children. Pacific Standard Magazine

Clean slate: Vandalism and graffiti have forced the California Department of Parks and Recreation to close Corral Canyon Cave in Malibu Creek State Park. Rangers say graffiti there was manageable until a rumor went around social media that Jim Morrison wrote his songs in the cave. While it’s closed, the cave will be blasted with walnut shells to clean away the paint. Los Angeles Times

Poet Laureate of L.A.: A Luis J. Rodriguez poem and video for Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times


Apple’s taxes: Cupertino’s mayor wants to see Apple pay more taxes. Residents there complain that they’re struggling with old infrastructure while the tax rate on multibillion-dollar tech firms is too low. “They’re making profit, and they should share the responsibility for our city, but they won’t,” said Mayor Barry Chang. The Guardian

Woman’s card: Hillary Clinton spoke to the Los Angeles Times editorial board Wednesday on a wide range of topics. On the subject of Donald Trump and his accusation that she’s playing the “woman’s card,” Clinton said it “has just lit a fire under so many women across the country. And I think it’s because they see in his attacks on me or on Megyn Kelly or Carly Fiorina or whoever else he’s attacking at the moment, really a much broader attack on them.” Los Angeles Times


Passing notes: The Orange County Board of Education may investigate one of its own members over emails sent regarding an employee’s sexual orientation. Trustee Robert Hammond is also accused of referring to gay people as “Sodomites.” A fellow trustee says he wants to know whether the emails have opened the school district to potential litigation. Los Angeles Times

Landmark tree: A San Francisco pine tree now has landmark status. The Board of Supervisors voted to protect the tree, which measures 85 to 100 feet tall, after neighbors worked for a year to stop a property owner from cutting it down. It’s not unusual to see a Norfolk pine hybrid in California, but it is a rare find in San Francisco. Associated Press

Price-adjusted wages: Lawyers in San Jose, Los Angeles and San Francisco make significantly more than attorneys in smaller cities, but those small-town lawyers have the same purchasing power, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “If somebody making $50,000 in a place like Portland, Oregon, moves to San Jose and gets a $10,000 raise, she’ll actually feel poorer. No wonder so many Americans are moving to the cheap and roomy suburbs of the south and southwest.” The Atlantic


Money and companionship: Media mogul Sumner Redstone’s former girlfriends Manuela Herzer and Sydney Holland received gifts worth $150 million over five years from the 92-year-old billionaire, according to new court documents filed on the eve of a trial over Redstone’s mental competency. Herzer sued after she was removed as Redstone’s primary caregiver last October. Los Angeles Times

Police protests: Protesters brought San Francisco’s Police Commission meeting to a standstill Thursday with their calls for Chief Greg Suhr’s resignation. The movement began in December with the shooting of Mario Woods and has gained more attention since five activists began a hunger strike April 21. Suhr has said he has no plans to resign. SF Gate



Memorial planned: A group in San Bernardino County is planning to build a memorial to the victims of the Dec. 2 terror attack. Details on where it will be and what form it will take have not been determined yet. Los Angeles Times

Just imagine it: Continuing the trend of multimillion-dollar spec homes, a planned Corona del Mar house hit the market at $36.5 million. It’s still in the conceptual phase, but the home is expected to have retractable glass walls and sweeping views. Orange County Register

Singing voices: The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles is helping transgender men and women embrace their voices. “For me as a trans woman even to open my mouth in public is courageous. Singing takes even more courage,” said Lindsey Deaton, founder and artistic director of the chorus. LA Weekly

Camping trip: Here are 50 beautiful places to camp in Northern California. San Francisco Chronicle

Foodie scene: There are certain food truths everyone in San Francisco knows to be true. Buzzfeed



San Diego will see a thunderstorm and a high of 68 degrees. Riverside will have clouds and rain with a high of 67. Thunderstorms and a high of 68 are expected in Los Angeles. Sacramento will have showers, as highs reach 67. San Francisco will likely see a thunderstorm, as temperatures reach 61 degrees.


Today’s California Memory comes from Rick Gomez:

“When I was 11, my mother and I moved from Chicago to San Francisco in 1964. As we were driving to our relative’s house in Tiburon, just north of the city, it was the first time I saw the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay leading out to the Pacific Ocean. The bridge’s golden color and monumental structure spanning from San Francisco to Marin was an image I can still see when I close my eyes. This was the moment that I realized how beautiful this place was and how lucky I was to be living in California.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)


Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.