In the wake of the arrest of Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the accused “Grim Sleeper,” residents across Los Angeles, particularly in Black communities, are wondering about themselves and some of their neighbors.

Psychologists have also offered their views and concerns on how Franklin’s arrest, perceived to be the capture of the man who murdered at least 11 people (10 women and one man), will have an effect on how African Americans in the Los Angeles area will relate and interact with each other in the short and long term.

“It’s a scary situation,” Anita Smith said. “Living in this box (79th Street to 83rd Street, north to south; Normandie to Western, east to west), most of the residents know or at least know of each other who live here. To know that one of your neighbors my have been a serial killer puts you on guard a little bit.”

Members of the South Central Los Angeles community who lived through the terror of the Grim Sleeper–whose killings took place from inside the circumference of Vernon Avenue, Imperial Highway, Figueroa Street and Crenshaw Boulevard– expressed shock that someone who was so woven into the fabric of the community would be the prime suspect of multiple, periodic homicides. “(Franklin) was a guy who was the neighborhood fix-it man,” Henry Powell commented. “Everyone knew him. Women all along this block weren’t afraid of him or anything.

“Then we came to find out, we didn’t know this guy. We didn’t know this guy. We didn’t know Lonnie Franklin. That’s very scary.”

The psychological affect this has on people within a residential area varies from community to community, according to Evangeline Canty, a psychologist in Long Beach. “This can lead to communities really cracking down regarding Neighborhood Watch programs and women limiting or eliminating visits to the homes of single male residents in the neighborhood,” Canty said.

“Something as shocking and traumatic as this can have a lasting affect. The community can feel betrayed to an extent. And no one likes to be ‘played for a fool.’”

There are people within the community where Franklin lived who believe they were deceived by his good-natured, easy-going demeanor. “This was a man who fixed our cars, gave us good deals on his work, had a beer and a hug for everyone who came into his path,” Charles Moore explained.

“Mind you, we were aware that he had accepted stolen property in the past. We kept that kind of ‘hush-hush.’

“A lot of the auto parts he used to fix our cars with, he may have gotten them under shady circumstances. But no one ever suspected that Lonnie was a serial killer. That’s crazy,” Moore added.

Los Angeles psychologist Maurice Douglass said such unnerving revelation can create mixed feelings among residents with regard to making friends with new residents who move into the neighborhood. “There is a great deal of cognitive dissonance,” Douglass commented. “Or, at least, there can be. Often times, people may not trust a lot of people. But you usually trust your neighbors, particularly in residential areas with homeowners. Generally, one doesn’t think of his or her next-door neighbor as a murderer.

“The arrest and resulting revelations in the Grim Sleeper case can cause the people to be less trusting of each other. And the new neighbor or neighbors moving in can be looked at with a highly skeptical eye by each of the long-time residents.”

The reality is that the residents of the residential area where the Grim Sleeper suspect was arrested must try to ultimately move on with their lives. However, the feeling is palpable that the way they interact may change.

“This thing has affected our neighborhood and probably every inner-city neighborhood in L.A.,” Powell says. “Many of us are having a hard time because his neighborly personality is what covered up the possibility that he was a vicious killer. If he hadn’t been so friendly and helpful; had we gotten deeper into his life, we may have seen the red flags. This situation reminds us that life is dangerous and nothing is certain. Everyone who smiles at you is not your brother. It makes you realize that a murderer can be your neighbor, and you could have been one of his victims.”